Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Minneapolis: Most Literate City in US

I just came across the study on “America’s Most Literate Cities of 2008” by Dr. John W. Miller of Central Connecticut State University. Much to my delight, Minneapolis is ranked #1, tied with our snowbound (currently) friends in Seattle. This is our second year in the #1 spot!

I’m proud to share that the girls on our New Moon Girls Editorial Board & Launch Board certainly do their part in contributing to the high literacy rate. One member, Holly, lives in Minneapolis, and other members live in Minnesota and throughout the U.S. We benefit daily from their exceptional creativity, foresight and dedication to girls' creativity, reading and writing.

The girls' interest in literacy is also reflected in the larger membership community of NewMoonGirls. I was delighted that so many girls listed books as their most-desired holiday gift during our recent holiday poll. It's inspiring to be reminded by girls themselves that a great book is as wonderful a gift as the latest tech gizmo.

So, even though I’m a teensy bit biased as a Twin Cities resident, I want to end 2008 by giving a strong shout-out to the New Moon Girls Editorial & Launch Boards, whom we thank for their efforts to continually spread the word about the good literary work being done by girls their own age around America and all over the world.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Here We Go Again: Another “Imperfect” Movie Star

A big thanks to Cynthia Hart Werry for drawing my attention to the latest example of media frenzy about women’s bodies in Hollywood. This time the subject is Jessica Alba, the twenty-something starlet who gave birth to her first child five months ago and has been digitally "slimmed down" for her appearance in the newest round of ads for Campari. New York magazine gives all the details and images .

There has been much celebrity media ado about Hollywood’s baby boom, and unbelievably thin new mom actresses. Alba herself was interviewed toward the end of her pregnancy and expressed discomfort about her changed body and the challenges ahead for returning to her post-baby shape. I remember reading that interview and feeling sad that she was so worried about her appearance in addition to worrying about having a healthy baby.

But it turns out she was right to be so worried. Apparently her image as one of Hollywood’s most beautiful women, wasn't enough for the agency for Campari. When I look at the before and after pictures provided by New York, it's astonishing to me that anyone could think the before photos needed "perfecting." But her appearance is her career in some ways.

Of course, people will disagree with me about that. No one is physically perfect. But I'm not interested in getting into a discussion of what is beautiful enough. That conversation will only lead us down the path of comparing our bodies to other women's bodies. And, in the age of PhotoShop, comparing our bodies to artificially perfected bodies.

That's exactly what all our daughters need us to STOP doing. Stop buying in to the myth of appearance perfection. Stop talking about how new moms should try to look as though they never had been pregnant. Stop striving to look like a few genetic outliers who meet this year's standard for physical beauty. Stop criticizing our own appearance in casual comments that litter conversations with friends and acquaintances.

Our daughters absorb the message that they should hate their own appearance every time we do any of those things. It's hard to stop - believe me, I know that firsthand. But it's worth the effort. For many ways to help your daughter learn to love her body check out "101 Ways to Help Your Daughter Love Her Body" by Brenda Lane Richardson and Elaine Rehr. And for a great read about how to help us adult women learn to love our bodies check out "The Body Myth: Adult Women and the Pressure to be Perfect" by Margo Maine, PhD and Joe Kelly. The two books together would make a wonderful New Year's present for mom and daughters.

So, even though I doubt it's the case, here's hoping that Alba doesn't see herself, and her new daughter, as anything besides beautiful. After all, her body gave birth this year, which is an incredible physical and emotional achievement. An achievement far more important than appearing "perfect" in a Campari ad will ever be.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Nancy Needs Your Help


How to Explain New Moon Girls

I need your creative brains to help me find new ways to tell more parents and teachers about New Moon Girls magazine and online. Girls love NewMoonGirls but we need a lot more people to give it a try and see what it’s all about.


I’m looking for the best ideas and words to motivate parents and teachers to click an online ad.  Please reply to this email or send an email to and tell me how you describe why you love New Moon as a parent or teacher – in 12 words or less. Why should parents/grandparents/aunt/uncles get a membership for a girl. What do you think is New Moon’s strongest selling point?

Here’s some of the wording and themes we’re using in ads now – let me know if you like or dislike these:

1. NewMoonGirls lets Girls Discover, Create, and Share
2. You can Trust NewMoonGirls because of its commitment to privacy and quality
3. Both your girls and you will love NewMoonGirls (Moms & Dads because of the quality, girls because they can connect and create)
4. NewMoonGirls enables your daughter to grow stronger and confident
5. NewMoonGirls inspires your daughter to tap into her creativity

Please share your thoughts on what works and what does not. What other themes and words should we try using? 


Thanks so much for your help with this – I’ll keep you posted on the results and the new ads we are developing.

All About Family starting Dec 13

Features include Amber and Heidi’s foster family in “We Belong Together,” mother-daughter communication tips from Maddy and her mom Sally in “Making Myself Clear,” and how to make a memory book in “Thanks for the Memories.” Girls can also share their favorite family stories with us at the Spotlight hub at all this week!

New Moon Girls Gift Ideas

New Moon Girls has some great new gifts this holiday season! We’ve got New Moon Girls notebooks, hoodies, messenger bags and more! You can buy a few New Moon Girls gift online at Café Press, and visit the New Moon Store for even more!

Welcome, Malia and Sasha Obama!

The deadline for letters, artwork, videos, and everything else girls are creating to welcome Malia and Sasha to the White House is coming up fast! Upload her creations to the “Your Stuff” section on, submit them to the Sister to Sister hub, or email them to by December 15th, 2008.


We’ll put all your wishes for Malia and Sasha together in a package that will be sent to them with their first issue of New Moon Girls magazine!


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My Daughters/My Self

This morning I read Judith Warner’s NY Times blog post “My Daughters/My Self.” I’ve always enjoyed reading Warner’s columns, blog posts and books, and was surprised by her subject today. She usually writes about the high-pressure culture of motherhood in the U.S., and the anxiety felt by mothers to raise “perfect” children. Today’s subject was herself, and how she has noticed herself becoming emotionally enmeshed with her daughters in a way she wasn't when they were younger.

I've been there. I found it comforting to read Warner's thoughts. And they triggered me to reflect again on something related to but different from Warner's perspective.

It's that being a parent has taught me more about myself than I've learned in any other way. From their infancy, my daughters' personalities, actions and feelings fascinated me as I sought to know and honor them as individuals separate from me. Still, as they grew up, I often felt emotionally linked to myself at their age.

It was an unexpected bonus that my keen observation of their developing selves also shed a bright new light on my childhood and how I developed into myself. Sometimes it felt as though I was looking through a one-way mirror at my younger self, understanding and accepting truths about myself in a new way. A few times it even helped me to forgive myself for childhood actions I was guilty about.

But the most learning happened when they broke through my sense of the one-way mirror and brought me back to the present moment in their lives. Kids have a way of persisting until we notice their needs and focus on them. When that happened, it linked who I was as an adult and parent to who I had been as a girl. It felt deeply satisfying, like the completion of a circle I didn't even know I was drawing. And it gave me the freedom to set aside my past and focus on the here and now.

If you have the time, I highly recommend reading Warner’s post and the corresponding comments. It's so good to hear other parents' thoughts, too. One comment recited a favorite quote of mine from Khalil Gibran: “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and the daughters of life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you they belong not to you.”

It's a good reminder that even as parents, we must first be ourselves, continuing to grow and develop as human beings. It's wondrous to me that our children can help us do that just by being themselves, different from who we are.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Human Rights Day

Although we’ve been talking about and celebrating Human Rights Day all week at New Moon Girls, yesterday was the 60th anniversary of the day the United Nations Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The history of Human Rights Day is rooted in post-World War II commitment to equal rights for all, and can be read about at the U.N. Web site.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is more important today than ever, especially as we continue to see acts of genocide like the ones being committed in Darfur, and acts of violence against women in countries around the world. To find out how you can help, visit Amnesty’s Global write-a-thon to support political prisoners like Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi – more than 191,000 letters have been written so far to protect people around the world from human rights violations!

Girls can also participate in this advocacy and will learn a great deal about the situation of girls' and women's rights around the world that way. Please consider taking a moment and adding your voice to the growing chorus. And introducing a girl to the definition of human rights. Now more than ever, it’s essential that we all speak up and help each other obtain and maintain our rights as human beings and citizens of this planet.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Serve our Nation and Each Other

Barack Obama's inauguration is just about a week away. I'm excited and can't wait to watch this historic event unfold. Many parents tell me that they are preparing their children to understand the significance of the day.

Here's an idea that could help. With the huge challenges we face as a nation and as individuals, how about joining others for a day of service on January 19th, Martin Luther King Day? It's fun and a great way to show our children the true meaning of citizenship the day before the inauguration of our 45th president.

I can't wait to hear the stories of how you all celebrate on the 19th & 20th - the parties will be fun and the service will add heart and depth to this memorable passage for all Americans. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Children’s Flu Vaccine - Check it Out

A quick reminder passed along from the Centers for Disease Control that today is Children’s Flu Vaccination Day.

I know that vaccines can be a controversial topic. What I didn't realize is that a surprising number of children die from the flu every year. I always thought it was a disease that mainly affected the elderly. While I can't tell you how to weigh the pros and cons for your children, it's definitely something to give serious consideration to. One of our daughters had a bout of pneumonia in 3rd grade and the next fall her doctor recommended that we all get flu vaccines which we've done every year since.

The CDC recommends that kids ages six months to nineteen years be vaccinated annually, as well as pregnant women, people 50 years of age and older and healthcare workers. To get this year’s flu vaccine, reach out to your primary care physician or pediatrician to set up an appointment.

In addition to the vaccine, you can protect your kids and family from flu germs by washing hands very often, teaching kids to sneeze into their elbow instead of their hand, staying away from sneezers and coughers and getting plenty of rest. To learn more, visit the CDC’s Seasonal Flu website.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Note to Pepsi: Suicide Isn't Ad Material

Following the recent uproar about Motrin’s ad suggesting that baby slings “hurt” moms, it was beyond discouraging to see yet another ad - this time from Pepsi - that challenged the health and well-being of consumers. In this case the group I was concerned about was teen girls and the issue was much more serious than whether or not baby slings create aches.

Pepsi Max, the one-calorie soda from Pepsi, launched a new campaign depicting a lonely “Calorie” cartoon character exploring different ways to commit suicide. Matt Creamer wrote about this ill-conceived campaign in AdAge, and at left is an example from his article.

The teen girls I know drink diet soda and are also very tuned in to advertising run by huge brands like Pepsi. And, needless to say, suicide attempts are a serious concern in the teen age group. That's why I think these ads were much worse than the Motrin ads.
Teenagers are already navigating difficult changes in their lives. They often experience loneliness and even depression. So it's shocking when an ad that is partly targeted to teen girls presents suicide as a humorous "solution" to feeling lonely.
Both Pepsi and their ad agency were seriously out of touch with the needs of their customers in putting out such a cynical and insensitive campaign. Fortunately, many customers voiced their disgust and disapproval, and Pepsi pulled the ad.
We need to be constantly aware to hold companies accountable and to keep our kids safe from these kinds of harmful messages.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Online Safety ABC's

If you’re looking for a simple set of rules to set for your daughter’s online time, FEMA (of all places - not sure how this qualifies as a FEMA responsibility, but it is good advice!) offers six must-remember points. These include basics, such as never giving out personal information or pictures, and never agreeing to meetings with strangers met online. They also include a rule that kids must always let their parents know who they’re meeting online.

For younger children, the FBI offers age-specific guidelines for grades K-5. These include letting an adult know if something or someone online makes girl uncomfortable or scared, in addition to the basics about never sharing personal information. Regular, casual conversations about feeling comfortable and safe online is a great way to guide and monitor your daughter’s online experience, no matter how old she is.

As with any really important influence in her life, it's most important that you actually know and experience what she's doing online. That means spending time at the same sites she does both with her and on your own. Get engaged in what she's doing online as a fun thing to share, not a way to spy. You'll learn a lot about her and her peers in the process (like the conversations you overhear when driving the carpool). Just "listening," or watching (in the case of the web) will teach you a lot.

Last but not least, be totally above-board and open with her about the age-appropriate boundaries you set for her web use. You can create an “online contract” with her input that includes the things you feel are most important. Involving her in writing the contract is particularly effective in providing the opportunity to talk with her about your concerns in an non-threatening way.

Let me know how you negotiate this new media arena with your daughters - share your tips so we can all learn from each other.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Welcoming the Obama Girls

Hi! Blog

New for Girls in December

It’s almost December, and brings girls a new theme each week! First up is Money Week including articles about the stock market, what investing means, what the diamond business is really like, and how working to raise money for a charity is just as rewarding (if not more) than receiving gifts! Check this all out (and more) at Additional themes this month are Human Rights, Family, and Winter Holidays! Be sure to check every week for new exciting new content.


Wishes for Malia and Sasha Obama

It was so exciting on election night to see president-elect Obama’s daughters come on stage. It’s fun to think about girls just like yours living in the White House—and we weren’t the only ones that thought that! Later that week, a member’s mom called our office to order a four-year gift membership to New Moon Girls for Malia and Sasha! She said she knew what a difference New Moon Girls made in her daughter’s life, and she wanted to offer the same to the Obamas’ daughters.


We’re  asking our members to help us welcome them to New Moon Girls AND to the White House in a big way! We’re collecting letters, artwork, video, and anything else that girls create for Malia and Sasha. Girls and adults can upload girl created content to their “stuff” on, or submit it to the Sister to Sister hub, or email it to


All of the good wishes will be sent in a package for Malia and Sasha along with their first issue of New Moon Girls magazine! To get girls’ wishes to Malia and Sasha on time, make sure to have them to New Moon Girls by December 15th, 2008.


Special Holiday Price

For the next month, we’re offering both the magazine and to you for one low price of $29.95! This offer is good for both new orders and renewals. It makes a great gift for your daughter’s friends – and then they can share the experience with each other.  Not only will they receive 6 issues of the award-winning, international New Moon Girls magazine, but they will also have 24/7 access to 15 years of archived New Moon Girls content, discussion boards, their own creative room online and so much more!


Great Gift Idea

Still looking for that special gift for the girl in your life or her friends for the holiday season? Look no longer! For a limited time, your girl can enjoy classic issues of the magazine in special themed collections! Just to mention a few: our 25 Beautiful Girls Collection includes nine different inspiring issues featuring 225 girls from around the globe. And with the New Year approaching, our Coming of Age Collection is perfect for the girls in your life that are growing up! To check out even more New Moon Girls Magazine Collections, visit us online at our New Moon Girls Store!

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Stop Violence Against Women

It's International Stop Violence Against Women day - November 25. So this is a post I wish I didn't have to write. Because if there were no violence blighting the lives of girls, I'd be able to write about something more fun.

It's obviously not fun to cover this topic in our age range of 8-15. And most media for girls won't cover the topic. We don't want to scare girls. But we do want them to know that if they face violence, they aren't alone. And I determinedly "think positive" about the day when we won't need to prepare girls to protect themselves or to know how to help a friend or family member in danger.

Just imagine that day. Our daughters will be able to walk down the street, get on the bus or subway, and be safe anywhere. Their schools will be free of sexual and physical harassment. Arguments at home will be resolved without violence. TV and movies that include violence against women will seem unreal to girls because it's become part of history, like legal slavery.

Of course, we're not there yet. And so New Moon has a special piece that introduces girls to the significance of SVAW Day in an unsensational way. (We don't want to scare girls or make them feel that they are responsible in any way for violence against women.) It also gives accessible resources for girls (and their friends) who are experiencing violence or other forms of abuse. While no girl should have to deal with violence on her own, we know that every day girls are put in that situation.

We want them to feel supported by knowing that they aren't the only girl facing the problem and that there are people who will help them.

Until we succeed in making a world without violence against women and girls, that feels like the best thing we can do.

Monday, November 24, 2008

New Report: Kids Online Safety

While I was at the Kids Online conference recently, released the results of a survey commissioned to determine the number of parents who speak with their kids about online safety.

More than 500 parents responded to the online poll, and some of the answers were very surprising to me. While a heartening 77% of parents reported having spoken with their children about staying safe online, it was discouraging to me that 75% of parents also indicated their kids access the Internet without supervision.

A parent recently confided in me that she’d discovered her 10-year-old on Facebook. Although her daughter had been savvy enough not to reveal her last name, hometown or other personal information, this parent was still aghast that her daughter had been able to set up the account without her noticing. Although they’d discussed online safety in the past, today that parent is monitoring all Internet use.

As parents, of course it’s important to speak with our children about staying safe. But that one conversation isn’t enough. We taught them how to walk, tie their shoes and ride their bikes, and none of those things were learned in a single afternoon. We owe it to our kids to monitor their online usage and to keep talking with them to keep them safe.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Kids Online Conference

Last week, I was excited to be part of the first-ever Kids Online: Balancing Safety and Fun "unconference" at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. . It came on the heels of the 7th Internet Identity Workshop, and both conferences were organized by Identity Commons, which addresses the many identity and privacy issues encountered online.

The day brought together many leaders of online services for children up to age 12. It combined small-group and full-group discussion of how companies like New Moon can improve children's online safety. This hit home for me as our online practices and guidelines at are specifically designed to maintain a safe and fun environment for girls 8-12. I learned that our moderation practices meet the highest standard of safety which sure felt good. I also learned that the cost of moderation is high for sites that do it well and that there are many pressures to shortcut the moderation. All the companies also discussed ways to generate revenue (to cover the cost of moderation) without exploiting children by allowing advertising. It's a challenge, that's for sure!

But what about spaces like Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube, which say they are only for consumers age 13+ (wink, wink), but which our kids are eager to join? Is it possible to keep our kids safe there? So far, the consensus is no. But, we talked about solutions for this and other questions throughout the day. Even better, we're going to regroup monthly to plan additional meetings with one another, as well as organize online safety conferences for parents and kids.

I came away hopeful that this meeting will lead to continuing improvement of online safety for our kids. The Internet changes every day, and it’s essential we always be looking for the next way to protect our kids.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Today's Launch of the New Online Community

I am thrilled to share some very exciting news today. This morning, we launched our new online community for girls ages 8-12. After fifteen years of encouraging girls to be writers and editors at New Moon Girls magazine, we’re delighted to provide girls with a second forum, this one online, where they can create content, explore the community and support one another.

As we celebrated the launch this morning, it brought back memories of the beginning of New Moon, when I was eager to create a magazine that would give my twelve-year-old twin daughters the opportunity to express and feel great about themselves. From the beginning, our entire purpose for being has been to help girls reach their full potential by challenging them to create, explore, and connect with each other.

Today, for the first time, we’re truly able to reach every girl around the world and provide a safe, secure place for her to grow.

It is with heartfelt thanks for fifteen wonderful years that I say to every New Moon Girl, and New Moon parent, past and present – come join us online, too! click below for a short video tour of the site so you can see how it works. And please let me know what you think!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

MTV's Model Maker Ends Before It Begins

After this week’s news that Libby Lu is being shut down, I was contacted by a sister Mom of daughters, whose girls are 15 and 17, to let me know about the end of another venture: MTV’s Model Maker.

The casting call for Model Maker began in April, and the goal of the show was to film women pursuing the chance to become a fashion runway model. The catch: all models who joined the show had to be ready to lose up to 30 lbs. And the tagline? “Women come in all shapes and sizes, but models don’t.”

Although it’s disheartening that physical beauty continues to be paramount on television, there’s a silver lining to this story. Darryl Roberts at Huffington Post reported that public outcry from individuals and organizations put an end to the filming of Model Maker, and there are now no plans to release this show.

After a great week of examples of how grassroots efforts can make a difference on the political scene, I’m proud to know that individual activism can also put an end to harmful gender themes and portrayals on our TVs.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Club Libby Lu Bites the Dust

As a small business owner, I don't often applaud when a company goes out of business. A dream dies, people lose their jobs, and it's awful. But today's the exception.

Club Libby Lu, which specializes in selling makeovers to tween girls, is being shut down by its parent company, Saks. As my friend Lisa Ray of Parents for Ethical Marketing tweeted this morning, that's something to celebrate! This is a dream that deserves to rest in peace.

As said:
"For $25-$40 girls could paint themselves with temporary tattoos, make bracelets
and get a "Club Libby Du." (We think that last thing is a hairstyle. At least,
we're hoping that it is.)"

But what truly made me happy they're closing was reading the company's mission on their website:

"At Club Libby Lu®, our mission is to create special memories by encouraging
tween girls to express their imaginations and individuality. Club Libby Lu
offers products and experiences that promote a unique shopping experience that
makes every girl feel special. Our staff (called Club Counselors), “Club”
environment and merchandise mix provide the ultimate girl experience. Girls join
the Club, where they become V.I.P.s (Very Important Princesses®) and enjoy a
fun, safe and special place where they can unlock their inner princess!™ "

Of course, I'm 150% in favor of encouraging girls to express their imaginations and individuality. That's why I founded New Moon in 1992. What bothers me about Club Libby Lu is how they equate shopping and makeovers with girls' "imaginations and individuality."

In fact, Club Libby Lu shopping and makeovers are not about imagination, self-expression or individuality. They are about conforming to someone else's idea of who you should be and how you should look. What Club Libby Lu really does is indoctrinate little girls into a culture of comparing themselves to others and striving to change themselves into someone else. Yuck.

I am very, very sorry for the people who will lose their jobs. But I'm not one bit sorry that girls won't have Club Libby Lu shaping their sense of who they are as they grow up.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Toeing the Party Line, Not

Like everyone else, my mind is on our new President-elect and the extraordinary grassroots and voting efforts that resulted in his victory during these challenging times. But I 'm also thinking about our children and how they grow into responsible, active citizens and voters.

In the days surrounding this monumental election, New Moon girls have been learning about voting through our “Mock Election,” where girls voted for a presidential candidate and learned more about important issues facing our country today.

At same time, in discussions with our Girls Editorial Board and girl writers, we’ve observed that the vast majority of our girls hold the political beliefs of their parents. Lior wrote about this for New Moon in Under the Influence.

So where does this leave us as parents? What do we need to teach our children about voting and the election process if our kids are just going to vote like us anyway? Over at Struggling Teens , Rose Mulligan writes that parents must help their children understand politicians in terms of character and achievement, rather than simply toeing the party line. How do you do this with your children during the campaign season and beyond? I'd love to hear about it.

In our Mock Election, we’ve been impressed by how much New Moon girls know about the individual candidates and their stances on issues in this election. And as we move forward, let's remember to keep teaching our girls how important it is to elect our politicians based on knowledge of their viewpoints and goals.

Who Can Be President?

As our nation celebrates the election of our first African-American President, I'm very aware of the deep symbolism this historic event holds. Senator McCain and President Bush, among many others, acknowledged the importance of seeing the highest African-American glass ceiling shattered. It's important to adults, but even more important to children.

Children see the entire world through the lens of their individual experiences. Now that Barack Obama will be Mr. President, kids will quickly see that as "normal." There's nothing like reality to change a child's worldview. How wonderful!

A recent message from our friends at The White House Project explains further:

With so many glass ceilings shattered, we take for granted that little
girls know they can grow up to be whatever they want. But according to a new
study, one in four children believes it is illegal for women and minorities to
hold the office of president. And one in three attribute the lack of female,
African-American and Latino presidents to racial and gender bias among voters.

The same study also found that girls who attributed the lack of female
presidents to discrimination were more likely to report that they could not
really become president, even if they were interested in doing so. "[Children]
have seen [the Presidents] all over the media, on posters, in classroom history
books," said author of the study Rebecca
in an interview, "yet no one ever explains to them why they have all
been white men. There is never a conversation about that so children start to
come up with their own explanations."

Today is the perfect time to start that conversation with the girl in your
life. The 2008 election has the potential to significantly alter children's
views and presents an excellent opportunity for parents to educate their
children on gender and racial discrimination as well.

Yes, yes, yes! I don't think the gender glass ceiling will be shattered until we have a woman elected president. If we want girls and boys to truly know that women can be presidents, we will need to elect one. Fittingly, as Malia and Sasha get ready to move into the White House with their parents, there's all the more reason to redouble our efforts to get women into the pipeline to the presidency and help all Americans think of a woman president as "normal."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Going on 13: A Documentary About REAL Girls

Recently, I had the privilege of creating a study guide to accompany the new documentary, Going on 13, which follows four girls from ages 9 - 13. I loved this film because it showed REAL GIRLS. I could watch the film again and again (and I did!) because the girls in it became very dear to me. They reminded me of girls I know: of my younger sister, my cousins, and the many amazing girls I've had the opportunity to work with through New Moon. It was so refreshing to see girls who spoke for themselves onscreen; it made me realize anew just how incredibly limited a portrayal the media usually gives girls.

See this film if you can. Even better, see it with other adults who care about or work with girls, or bring the girls you care about to it. The film can be a springboard to discuss many important topics, such as growing up, mental health, sex education, immigration, and more. There is one instance of 'the f word' and some mature subject matter, such as sex education and mental illness, but I find the film appropriate for girls ages 9 and up if they view it with an adult who can help them contextualize and process what they see.

The next screenings are:
1) LA Latino Film Festival Sept 13
2) SF Documentary Film Festival some time in Oct 17-30
3) South Asian Film Festival (NYC) Nov?
4) Leeds (UK) Youth Film Festival April 2009

And here's the trailer:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sexiness and Girls

Sexiness and girls is a topic I wish I didn't even have to think about. I'm deeply disturbed by the hyper-sexualization pressure girls face today, even when they are very young. From Braatz dolls to World Wrestling tv to videogames and movies, girls are surrounded every day by examples of girls and women dressing, pouting, strutting, bumping & grinding and generally performing like "exotic dancers."

Learning accurate information and facts about sex too soon isn't the issue. That's been shown to be healthy for kids.

The problem is the cynical commercial manipulation of "sexy" media messages given to girls starting at a very young age. These messages teach pre-adolescent, even pre-school age, girls and boys that looking and acting "sexy" is normal, popular and something they need to do. And they also teach girls that they need to buy things to make themselves more sexy because, of course, they don't measure up to the media images.

But, being so young, they don't have the emotional sophistication and psychological development needed to understand what they are being sold. These messages deeply influence how they feel about their bodies, their sexuality, their self-image and how they think about gender and relationships.

As parents we're left with little girls wanting to go on diets, wear make-up, adopt sexy poses, and wear provocative clothing so they can be "sexy," and little boys getting suspended from school for mimicking sexual harassment they've seen in the media. And as parents we're in desperate need of support and guidance on how to fight the deluge of negative results.

That’s why I'm so excited about the new book "So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids" by long-time children’s and media advocates Dr. Jean Kilbourne and Dr. Diane Levin.

It deals with children from infancy through adolescence (and is very much about boys as well as girls) and will spark a lot of discussion and action for you, your family and your colleagues. It's for parents, teachers, and everyone who cares about children. The book helps us understand how sexualization affects children of all ages and genders and gives us practical things to do about it.

So Sexy So Soon provides in-depth analysis of the media's effect on impressionable kids, and gives parents the information, skills, and confidence they need to play a proactive role with their children around sexual issues. It includes poignant stories that demonstrate how our kids internalize what they see and hear, guidelines and sample conversations for talking with kids about these sensitive subjects, and offers practical strategies for counteracting the disturbing messages that bombard our children every day.

Please post a comment here and let me know about the fake and hyper-sexuality messages influencing your girls—and what you think about So Sexy So Soon once you read it.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Hot in California

I'm having a marelous time at Stanford University's profssional publishing course. The weather's been unseasonably hot but it's worth it.

Meeting interesting publishers as well as some of the icons of magazine & book publishing. And everyone's trying to figure out how to use the internet for good, not junk (well, maybe not everyone!).

Visiting was particularly thoughtprovoking - wondering if parents of 8-12 year old girls would like to get similarly age-appropriate info about your daughter's growth & development? Would you? Let me know.

Friday, July 11, 2008

New Moon Girl Media YouTube Channel!

Hi everyone,

This is Julia, guest blogging to share my excitement about our new New Moon Girl Media YouTube Channel! The first video posted is a trailer for our orb28 blog for teen girls, which shows New Moon girls in action--brainstorming, working together, speaking out, and making their dreams for orb28 into a reality. I am so honored and inspired to work with these girls, and it was quite nostalgic editing the footage from the retreat into this trailer! (I also really enjoy the accompanying song, "Race You Back Home," and am glad indie female songwriter, Elizabeth Ziman let us use it! Check her out with her band, Elizabeth and the Catapult.)

The New Moon Girl Media YouTube channel is also the kick-off to more multi-media-filled days at New Moon. We'd love to receive your videos on why YOU love New Moon! Why do you think New Moon is positively unique? Why is it important in your life and for girls everywhere?

You can submit your video to add to the trailer excitement! And we of course welcome your written testimonials of why you value New Moon as well.

Please help us spread the word about this video and our YouTube channel by rating, commenting, and sharing the trailer with family and friends. I'm excited to hear your feedback...Thanks!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

In the Circle with Girls

Today I had the opportunity to attend a Girls Circle training with the Girls Circle co-founder, Giovanna Taormina. I first heard about Girls Circle through my work as an editor with New Moon magazine about four years ago, and I remember thinking, "Wow! What a great thing for girls!"

Being at the training reaffirmed that for me. Not only did I get to meet dozens of women (and one man!) working with girls in many different capacities, but I had the opportunity to be reminded of why working with girls in a different way is so crucial.

At New Moon, we work under a principle called "Share the Power," in which girls and adults make decisions together about the content of New Moon Girls magazine and our upcoming online experiences. Part of "Share the Power" involves creating a safe space where girls feel comfortable speaking up and disagreeing with one another -- otherwise, we'd never get to what girls really wanted and needed from New Moon. The Girls Circle philosophy also talks about sharing the power; in Girls Circles, the power is about girls helping one another to make good decisions about their lives. Girls Circles can happen in many different settings, such as schools, community programs, after-school programs, churches, and juvenile justice systems, to name a few.

Girls Circles are built around the understanding -- finally becoming mainstream -- that girls are not the same as boys, nor are they the same as adults. The Girls Circle model is rooted in the facts about how girls' brains and development work, so that girls can come together in a model that's designed for them. It's no wonder girls love coming to the circles, and no wonder that they raise girls' self-esteem (and lead them to making better choices).

There was so much wisdom at today's training that I could fill 10 blog posts. Some of the ideas that struck me the most were that
  • Girls' (and women's) psychological well-being is closely tied to their relationships. This means that girls and women in unhealthy relationships are more likely to abuse substances, have a low opinion of themselves, and struggle with depression. On an instinctual level, this makes sense. But now we have the science to prove it: when it comes to girls, relationships matter.
  • Similarly, the primary goal of the female brain is to form community; talking activates female's pleasure centers in the brain, but rejection activates the stress centers.

This is the foundation for the work that Girls Circle does with girls. The circle creates trust among the girls participating by

  • laying down groundrules that all agree upon
  • letting everyone have their turn to talk (a "talking stick" or other talking object helps with this)
  • turning things "back over to the group" as much as possible, rather than having an adult step in and "fix" any issue a girl brings up
  • committing to confidentiality, except in cases of mandatory reporting.

Once that trust has been established in a circle, the female brain is happy because it has a safe, healthy relationship to depend upon. This gives a girls a jumping off point to take the risk of being their authentic selves in the world, because they've seen a place where being authentic didn't lead to rejection. Wow, powerful stuff.

And the best part of all? Anyone can start a Girls Circle, anywhere. Girls circle or not, my hope is that all girls would find a place that felt that safe.

Monday, July 7, 2008

You Never Know What the Mail Will Bring

Talk about a wonderful way to start the week! Opening the mail at New Moon is often an adventure with all the great letters and artwork we receive from girls. Today, Sandra opened a normal looking envelope at our office in Duluth, MN, and found a different kind of great story inside.

It seems that Mary Jo of North Brunswick, NJ lost her wallet. Jennifer of Highland Park, NJ found the wallet and returned it. That's a heartwarming story in and of itself, reinforcing my faith in people from New Jersey (my husband Joe was born there!).

But it gets even better. When Mary Jo asked Jennifer how she could return the favor, Jennifer asked her to order a subscription to New Moon magazine for the Highland Park Library. Now Jennifer's act of kindness in returning the wallet is going to give the girls of Highland Park the chance to discover New Moon.

Jennifer & Mary Jo, our deep thanks to both of you for being such caring women and for extending your caring to girls you don't even know.

P.S. If you're inspired by the generosity of Mary Jo and Jennifer, you can donate a New Moon magazine subscription to your library or school by ordering online or calling 1-800-381-4743 M-F 8am-5pm, central time. The girls will thank you!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Kit & Eve - An Unusual Duo

I'm so happy to share that two people whose judgment I trust say there are a couple movies out now that are worth seeing because of the interesting, complex girl characters in them.

Melissa Silverstein of Women & Hollywood gives a strong thumbs up to Kit Kittredge: An American Girl starring Abigail Breslin. (I adored Abigail Breslin in Miss Sunshine.) Even though I haven't seen Kit yet, based on Melissa's review, other positive reviews, and a charming piece by A.O. Scott in the NY Times about seeing the film with his daughter, I look forward to it.

Have you or any girls you know seen it yet? I'd love to hear what you think.

And actor Kathy Najimy blogs about why she loves the character of Eve the robot in the new animated film, Wall-E:

Eve's a fantastic example of a strong non-compromising, female character
for girls. (One of the best I have ever seen and as the mother of an 11 year old
girl--I have seen them all and am frequently disappointed--I LOVED EVE!) The
thing that impressed and delighted me the most is that Eve is one of very
few female animated characters that isn't female identified by red
lipsticked lips or a big pink bow in her hair or long false eyelashes or
high heels to indicate she is female. She is, instead, a sleek white round
ipod looking character that could be any gender. I applaud Pixar for not
drawing or writing her in the usual gross, stereotypical manner. She is strong and in charge and saves the day.

In this case, I'll go see the movie, which I wouldn't have otherwise, just to see this character. Thanks for the tip, Kathy!

You're Amazing! A No-Pressure Guide to Being Your Best Self

Julia guest blogging here...

I just got word from our friends at 5 Resolutions that Claire Mysko's book for girls is out this week!

Claire writes:
"You're Amazing! A No-Pressure Guide to Being Your Best Self is based on the Girls Inc. "Supergirl Dilemma" study, which shows that girls are feeling increasing pressures to be perfect and please everyone. Perfectionism is a major source of girls' stress (60% of girls in the study reported that they often feel stressed), low-self-esteem, and poor body image. That's the bad news. The good news is that with the right tools and support systems, girls can learn to give up the quest to be "super" and start celebrating what makes them amazing. My hope is that this book will help to kick-off that celebration. I would like to say a big, big thanks to you, dear readers! Your support and kind words have meant so much to me. Speaking of all fit the bill."

To kick things off, Claire is doing a book giveaway for girls on her blog! Girls who post a comment about what makes them amazing will be entered to win an autographed copy of the book. The contest runs through July 7th and girls can enter here.

Woohoo for positive change!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

How to Counter Harmful Tween & Teen Magazines - Part Two

My daughters are 27 now (twins) and never acquired the habit of relying on fashion magazines for advice about life. That's not to say that they never read them! In their early teens, they read Seventeen and similar publications even though we had started New Moon magazine as an alternative to the typical girls' mags.

At first, I agonized about whether or not to let them read those magazines because I knew firsthand how damaging they were. I'd been a girl who looked to Seventeen, Ingenue, and later Glamour for instruction on how to be prettier, more popular, more confident, and all around different from who I really was.

Of course, every time I read one of those magazines I ended up feeling worse about myself instead of better. Each copy was filled with contradictory propaganda and advice. The quizzes pinpointed my personality shortcomings and the fashion spreads showed clothes I knew I'd never own. I saw myself in the "fashion crimes" photos and faithfully tried each new diet (and faithfully failed at each one). One year, most of the money I earned babysitting was spent on a secret stash of new makeup products recommended each month that were touted as so much better than what I had bought the previous month. (And I barely ever used them as I could only put them on in the bathroom at school since my parents wouldn't let me wear makeup.)

Even the advice columns made me feel inadequate since I didn't have the problems (mostly about boyfriends and I didn't have one) they gave advice about! As a mom, I obviously didn't want my daughters to be subjected to the undermining propoganda in typical girls' magazines. But the magazines are everywhere and I knew that trying to prohibit them (the way my parents had tried to ban makeup) would just lead to sneaky reading.

So when they asked for the magazines I bought them. But I didn't stop there. I also read them and talked with my daughters about them. That's what led to these strategies about how to help girls resist the harmful influence of popular tween & teen magazines.

  • Ask her what she thinks is real and unreal in each issue. It can be a game to score how much fakery there is from month to month - is the magazine getting more fake or more real?
  • Are the photos altered? (Show her this example of how photo manipulation makes an average looking woman into the fake perfection we see in magazines.)
  • Count how many of the total pages are ads (often more than 50%). What are the ads selling?
  • In its subject matter, does the magazine leave out things that she cares about and that are on her mind? What are those things?
  • Ask her what effect she thinks an article or ad is trying to have on readers.
  • Ask her how she feels (different from what she thinks) after looking at or reading an article or ad. Listen without judging or arguing about what she says.
  • Tell her how you feel (give her your feelings - angry, sad, afraid, guilty - not your thoughts) after looking at or reading a different article or ad.
  • Express your opinions (thoughts) about the articles and ads.
  • Provide her with alternative magazines like New Moon and Teen Voices by subscribing and keeping them in the house all the time. Having them available is like having healthy food in the kitchen. Even if she might always want to eat pop tarts, it's not the only food we provide!

These resistance strategies helped me stay connected to and support my daughters as they learned for themselves that they didn't want the propoganda churned out by most teen girl mags. It was a happy day for me when I noticed that they had stopped asking me to buy the magazines. After a while, I asked them about it and Nia said, "Reading those magazines made me feel so depressed. I don't need that!"

Please let me know what bothers you most about the messages in teen & tween magazines by posting a comment.

Friday, June 27, 2008

How to Counter Harmful Tween & Teen Magazines - Part One

University of Minnesota research finds that teen girls "who frequently read magazine articles about dieting were more likely five years later [emphasis added] to practice extreme weight-loss measures ... than girls who never read such articles."

That's terrifying for parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles, teachers and youth workers because we know most girls will read those magazines at some point. What to do? Here's Part One of how you can counter their harmful influence.
  • If she's not a tween yet, decide ahead of time at what age you will allow her to read which magazines.
  • Try to avoid censorship, which makes the magazines “forbidden fruit” she reads in secret—where you can’t discuss them with her.
  • Read her magazines yourself (yes, this is excruciatingly painful to do, but it's crucial) so you can converse casually (not lecture her!) about them.
  • Look critically at the magazines you read (both the articles and the ads). Do they objectify females or reduce them to body parts? How would you feel if it was your daughter in those photographs/stories?
  • Do your magazines make you judge your body? Do they make you crave certain clothes, cars, products, etc? Look for the parallels in her magazines.
  • Ask your daughter to identify her favorite article and ad in each issue. Listen for her underlying emotional need and think about other ways you can help her meet that need. Is she concerned about her body? Is she worried about fitting in or getting male attention?
  • Provide positive attention for ALL of who she is and she’ll have less desire for “appearance-only” attention from others.

To be continued tomorrow with Part Two ....

Monday, June 23, 2008

Dear Myles Brand: Title IX is HOW old?

As a girl in the 1960's, I was a huge baseball fan, falling asleep on muggy summer nights listening to the Yankees on the radio. Mickey Mantle was the undisputed star but my favorite was the shortstop Tony Kubek. To this day, listening to a baseball game on the radio is guaranteed to relax and entertain me at the same time.

I loved playing catch with my dad, brother and cousins. Once I even manged to break my cousin Rich's nose with a hard throw! (I don't remember ever playing catch with another girl or a woman.) But I never thought of myself as an athlete and instead put my physical energy into modern dance, which I also loved.

When I was 18, Title IX - the federal law that illegalized gender discrimination in any educational institution that receives federal funds - was born. I didn't hear anything about it at the time.

Well-known now for its dramatic effect on equalizing athletic opportunities for girls and young women, Title IX stayed totally off my radar screen until a good 20 years later when my friend Emily, a rabid hockey player who took up the sport in her twenties, started fighting for the creation of girls' hockey teams in Minnesota high schools. She and an equally passionate group of women made it happen, against many odds. And Title IX was the key they used to open the door of ice arenas all over the state to girls. Emily's daughter Laurel went on to play Division I hockey at Boston University, a great testament to her mom's vision.

So by the time Title IX turned 36 years old earlier this week (June 23), I had become a huge fan of it. That was a quick 1/3 of a century! The results of Title IX's ban on gender discrimination in education are all around us in girls' high school & college teams, and in the WNBA. Less well-known but just as important is how Title IX pried open the door for admission of many more women to medical schools, law schools, engineering schools, architecture school and traditionally male-dominated careers like auto mechanic and computer programmer.

While there's been resistance to Title IX in many educational institutions, the NCAA has become a strong supporter of Title IX under the leadership of Myles Brand. When the Bush administration mounted a full court press in 2003-05 to weaken Title IX, the NCAA joined the Women's Sports Foundation and many others to successfully defend Title IX.

So imagine my surprise and dismay when I saw this NCAA psa while watching the underdog Fresno State team win the College World Series. The PSA shows 10 athletes playing basketball, dressed as professionals ranging from doctor to judge to police officer, making the point that most NCAA athletes "go pro" in something other than sports. (Of course, that's especially true for women since there are still very few sports that even the most talented women can "go pro" in!)

The thing that irked me is that only 3 of the 10 athletes on the court in the PSA are women. The message that sends to both girls and boys is painfully clear - even 36 years after Title IX became law, things still aren't fair to female athletes and professionals. I have to admit that's reality, but I hate to see the NCAA present a powerful vision of inequality that will stick with both girls and boys sub-consciously. It's the subconscious "realities" and biases that are the toughest to change.

Mr. Brand, it's unworthy of the NCAA to create and air anything giving a message of inequality. I'm very disappointed and hope for better next year. I know you can make that happen.

Note: Readers can help by emailing Myles Brand with your Title IX stories and your suggestions for future NCAA PSAs.


Listen and you can hear it: the roar of airwaves buzzing, keyboards clicking, presses clattering, talk radio gasping and tv commentators shouting. Why?

Because some 14 and 15 year old girls in Massachusetts appear to have gotten pregnant on purpose and be happy about it.

Judging by the media furor, the fact that these girls chose to get pregnant means the world is going to end soon. Oh, and it means teen girls are certifiably insane. Oh, and it means that feminism is to blame. And celebrities and movies and the depressed economy of Glouscester, MA, etc., etc., etc.

One of the most thoughtful blogs I've seen on this is Courtney Macavinta's post at RespectRx that focuses on how self-respect and respect from others (and their lack) play such a critical role in the decisions that teens make.

Teen girls are confronted by lack of respect daily in the media. The media act like ocean waves eroding the already shaky self-respect of teen girls. In part, teens are susceptible to disrespecting themselves purely because of their developmentally normal confusion about who they are and where they belong. That's understandable.

What's NOT acceptable is the way media undermines girls' self-respect in countless ways.

What are the ways you see girls being disrespected in the media? Let me and other readers know by commenting. Let's start a list and then we will keep on working to make that list shorter.

Friday, June 20, 2008

When Do You Feel Beautiful?

Last night I saw a powerful and disturbing film America the Beautiful and met its amazing filmmaker, Darryl Roberts. Thanks to The Emily Program Foundation for bringing him to Minneapolis.

I can say a lot about both the film and Darryl. But the most important thing is, GO SEE IT! And TAKE ALL YOUR FRIENDS! (It's R-rated due to something Eve Ensler says in an interview but is far more appropriate for teens than any other R-rated movie I can think of.)

After getting home, I kept thinking about the film and what I can do to help pre-teen and teen girls believe in and honor their inner beauty and fight the popular media who hold their self-esteem hostage.

From my fan email to Darryl at 1.30 am this morning: Your film moved me so deeply – I’m very grateful that you’ve made such a powerful film and that your motivation for doing it is so personal and genuine. Your powerful spirit and conviction come through so strongly in the film and in person. Having heard about the film from my friend Carolyn Costin, I’ve been eagerly waiting to see it.

My personal passion and life mission is to help girls recognize the value of their own unique spirit and experience the power of their voices in the world. That’s why my twin daughters and I started New Moon Girl Media when they were 11 years old.

For 16 years at New Moon, we’ve pioneered and developed our Share the Power method with girls ages 8-15 as creative decisionmakers to create healthy media for girls. Our mission is Bringing Girls’ Voices to the World. We’ve done this with New Moon magazine and by creating opportunities for girls to be activists in the world. And on Sept. 1, we're launching a creative online community for girls ages 8-12 that will bring these opportunities to even more girls.

The issue of New Moon magazine that I gave you is a special annual issue called “25 Beautiful Girls,” that we’ve published since 1999. The idea for this annual issue was brainstormed by our Girls Editorial Board as an antidote to the malignant “beauty as physical perfection and material excess” culture that girls and women are being drowned out by every day.

Every issue of our magazine honors girls for their inner beauty – the beauty of compassion, action and creativity. We started the “Turn Beauty Inside Out” campaign to give girls and boys, women and men, tools and space to speak the truth to popular media about the great harm our culture’s narrow and exclusionary definition of beauty causes to us all. One of the things I particularly value about your work is the compelling way you show how this warped definition of beauty hurts boys and men just as much as it hurts girls and women.

I look forward to exploring how we can work together to bring the message of America the Beautiful and Turn Beauty Inside Out to tween and teen girls and inspire them to action on behalf of their inner beauty. I am excited to envision how we can help you spread this message to girls – it will be an honor!

Readers - please comment and share YOUR ideas for how we can all help each other, and especially girls and boys, in this critical work.

And please share with me when you feel beautiful -I want to make a long, long list of when women and girls feel beautiful for who we are and what we do - not for how we look or what we own!

I can't wait to hear from you about it.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Girls growing New Moon

Here's a message from Julia for all girls & parents (see the end of the message if you're a parent or caring adult) who want to help New Moon reach more girls:

Hey girls,

You're the most important part of New Moon Girls and we want to invite you to be on the new Street Team that I'm coordinating-take a look at what this is about! At New Moon we want the world to hear from girls, respect girls, and support girls' dreams. The Street Team will help more and more girls everywhere use their voices, achieve their dreams, and work together in ways that matter.

You can use your voice and spread the word about New Moon Girls magazine and New Moon Girls online! Find out more about what the New Moon Girls Street Team is doing in June and all the fun ways YOU can get involved. New Moon plans are always centered on girls and their ideas so I want to hear from you!

Feel free to e-mail me and with questions and ideas, and I'll send you an application to join the team and get some street teamer goodies. Now you can share your love for New Moon while being an ambassador for girls and their dreams!

If you want to join the street team or if you've got thoughts on what Street Teamers could be doing...or even what we should name our street team, give me a shout!



For Parents & Other Adults: You can join the Street Team, too - email Julia for more info on what you can do to help.

Thanks for helping us reach more girls - they benefit from New Moon and you can get it to them.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Bill Moyers Has Spoken!

Nancy Gruver and I are back at the National Conference for Media Reform today! I'm feeling tired but excited by--as Bill Moyers just said in his keynote speech--being surrounded by "kindred spirits."

Moyers' speech was of course excellent. He handed us the challenge and the power to insist on free media, accompanied by the inspiration and feeling of community to continue to do so. His words even brought a tear to my eye.

After his speech, Nancy Gruver and I agreed on what a great speech it was. And then Nancy said, "But out of all those quotes, examples, stories, and anecdotes he mentioned, not one involved a woman." That fact had slipped right past me, the feminist that I am, because I was listening to value of his words in my life and my work. And his words were incredibly valuable! But it's just worthy noting that yet again, female voices have been excluded from media, even at the Free Press conference for media *reform.* (There IS an awesome panel coming up today regarding how "there is no media reform without women" that I'm really looking forward to, and I hope they keep panels like this in the future and increase their number.)

I'm not criticizing Moyers for a personal oversight; his speech simply reflects the male-dominated history of media that continues up until today. When women's voices have been absent and silenced, their quotes and stories are much harder to find.

Our work at New Moon obviously addresses this issue - What else do you think we can do to help girls' and women's voices matter? What actions are you taking that you want to share? We're all together on this, and we'd love to hear your comments and ideas!

Friday, June 6, 2008

More from the NCMR

I'm done with sitting in on panels for the day, and my overall feeling is of inspiration. Many experts feel that we're at a cross-roads of change, and that calls for media reform and social change are stronger than they've been in a long time.

Also really important to me is the emphasis on collaboration I've been hearing. Events like this conference make the possibilities of the change that can happen with collaboration seem within reach. There are so many passionate, hard-working people here, gathered together to meet each other and work together. It's easy to become embittered or cynical when working alone, but remembering that each of us here today (and many others who aren't!) are out there, contributing to improving life on this planet, refreshes me and helps me keep going.

For now, I'm off to the art opening for Project Girl, a really exciting project where girls respond to negative media images with their own art and media pieces.

More tomorrow!

From the National Conference for Media Reform

Hi everyone! This is Julia again - I'm writing from the National Conference for Media Reform. So far we've heard some opening comments full of information, passion, and calls to action.

Everyone here has goals of shaping a free, tolerant society with open communication; this is the kind of world I want to help create for girls. The girls that I'm lucky enough to work with have the passion and energy to change things that frustrate them, and I hope that vigor never gets kicked out of them. When girls continue to speak out as they turn into women, it's much more likely that they will be future leaders in many industries as well as government. I'm really proud to be part of New Moon, where we help girls' voices stay strong!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Guest Post: Girl Media Maven Spreads the Word

Hi Girl Media Maven readers,

I'm Julia, an Online Editor at New Moon. I'm just dropping in to guest blog a bit about some of what I've been up to at New Moon.

I am really jazzed about and dedicated to New Moon's goals which help girls have confidence to realize their dreams. New Moon is growing these days to reach more and more girls and expand with its new online presence. As part of this process, I am working to help us have successful websites and blogs by spreading the word and my excitement for what we do at New Moon! I help to run our blog with girl teens, orb28, and I talk about New Moon with adults through blogs on many topics from media literacy to parenting to feminist news.

I'm excited to say that Girl Media Maven is now part of and, listings of blogs pertinent to the interests of moms and women in general. I hope that our listings in Alltop, along with,, and some others, will help parents (dads too!) and adults who care about girls to find our community.

And speaking of community, I'd love to invite you to join us on Facebook and MySpace if you haven't already! We're also on Twitter and FriendFeed, if you'd like to find us there! These communities are a good way to stay updated on New Moon happenings and share the work of New Moon with friends.

I also hope you love our spiffy new buttons on the left sidebar that will help you share this blog and subscribe to the Girl Media Maven blog feed! (I just discovered the magic of RSS feeds myself, and I definitely recommend getting yourself set up with a reader if you're not already. It makes staying up to date with news and articles so much easier than receiving tons of emails. I use Google Reader and there are lots of other good ones out there too!)

As you can tell, I'm really passionate about using the internet to help us come together to improve girls' and women's lives. And I'd love to connect with you! Please feel free to email me at with questions and comments. If you or anyone you know would like to become involved in guest posting, content sharing, or other forms of partnership with New Moon, feel free to email me as well.

So far in my web travels I have met many kind and interesting folks doing great work for girls, and I'm excited at what we can achieve if we work together. I'd love if you could help spread the word about New Moon, and hope to learn that you're interested in working collaboratively so we can help your valuable work as well. I look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, May 5, 2008

e-nudity & Self-Objectification

In a small Wisconsin high school, two boys printed and distributed nude cell phone photos of a former girlfriend that she had taken and emailed to them in the past. I'm imagining the feelings of anger, shock and betrayal this must have created.

This story surfaced in the StarTribune last week, on the heels of the controversy about Annie Leibovitz's photos of Miley Cyrus for Vanity Fair. I'm disturbed that Miley's parents allowed such a private-feeling photo of their daughter to be published in a major magazine--it feels like commercial exploitation of a 15 year old, pure and simple.

Over the weekend my thinking on all this was expanded when I read, in the spring issue of Ms., an excellent piece by Caroline Heldman on the high costs of the self-objectification that girls are taught by our culture.

From Heldman's piece:
A steady diet of exploitative, sexually provocative depictions of women feeds a poisonous trend in women's and girls' perceptions of their bodies, one that has recently been recognized by social scientists as self-objectification--viewing one's body as a sex object to be consumed by the male gaze. Like W.e.b. DuBois' famous description of the experience of black Americans, self-objectification is a state of "double consciousness...a sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others."

Bingo - now I have the term to describe even better what was bothering me about the Cyrus photos. And it's the same thing that upsets me in the Wisconsin incident. Girls are being taught (as they have been for centuries) that they are sex objects. Sexual objectification turns a girl into a thing and diminishes her sense of value as a human being. When a girl self-objectifies she turns herself into a thing and diminishes her own value to herself.

In a very real way, girls and women who self-objectify are hurting ourselves. I well remember the deep despair I felt about my body (and by extension my entire self) whenever I was assaulted by unwanted sexual comments in public. I felt dehumanized, belittled and ashamed--like I had done something wrong. At the time, I didn't realize that I also hurt myself, by "buying into" the objectification and viewing myself exclusively through the eyes of others.

That was painful and harmful enough. And now the technological trappings of daily life like cell phones, digital cameras, YouTube, Flickr, MySpace and Facebook are facilitating the viral spread, and multiplying the harm, of self-objectification.

When self-objectified images of girls (like nude photos taken by a girl on her own cell phone) are widely distributed, I think girls are harmed even more than they are by sexual objectification that takes place in real world, one-on-one situations. The powerlessness created by others broadcasting her image can be crushing. That total loss of control over her own body (through the image of it) is a graphic example of how sexual objectification can steal a girl's self confidence.

From Heldman's piece: Numerous studies have shown that girls and women who self-objectify are more prone to depression and low self-esteem and have less faith in their own capabilities, which can lead to diminished success in life.

So what can we do as parents to help our daughters resist the pressures to self-objectify? I'll write on that in the next few days.

Please send me your thoughts, too, by commenting.