Barbie News Roundup

Mattel announced this week that the company has decided to give Barbie a range of diverse looks and


Mattel announced this week that the company has decided to give Barbie a range of diverse looks and body types, completely remaking the image of the iconic blonde. The news exploded across news streams with both positive and negative remarks about the Barbie makeover. We’ve collected a few articles that encompass the variety of comments Mattel is receiving about Barbie’s new body types.


At Last, My Long Parental Nightmare of Avoiding Barbie is Over: TIME – Mothers who have had to refuse purchasing Barbie dolls for their children in the past are now breathing sighs of relief with the new body types available. Previously opposed consumers can finally support Barbie and the brand with the inclusion of a variety of body types and dolls that look more similar to real women.

Barbie’s Hips Don’t Lie: TheAtlantic – Mattel is attempting to make things better for their consumers as a byproduct of improving sales for shareholders. The new Barbie body types are a feel-good body image win, but the changes were sparked by falling sales, not moral obligation. Capitalizing on cultural changes (in this case, increasing diversity) is an age-old strategy to lift sales and turn profits.

What I learned Watching Moms and Kids Meet Curvy Barbie: TIME – Although mothers are more adamant about having body positive dolls than their children, young girls still love the new Barbies for a variety of reasons.  The assortment of looks and body types allows girls to choose dolls that resemble themselves and their peers. Researchers noted interesting findings when watching mothers and daughters meeting the new line of Barbies, including mothers not favoring the term “petite” and girls actively avoiding fat-talk.

Social Media Users Slam Barbie’s Diverse Makeover: DailyMail – Many consumers praised the Barbie makeover, but still have lingering issues with the doll. Yes, Mattel created more relatable versions of the Barbie doll, but the new body types still largely embrace the ideal body and segregate groups of women into specific stereotypes. While the company is attempting to be more inclusive and politically correct, consumers are feeling the need to point out how far they still have to go.

Little Girls’ Reactions to the New “Curvy” Barbie Prove Why We Need “Curvy” Barbie: Slate - Some shoppers reason that girls playing with Barbie are too young to be affected by her perpetuation of the thin-young ideal body, but a recent observation of a focus group playing with the new diverse collection of Barbie dolls reveals that girls already understand that the curvy Barbie is less accepted at a very early age, suggesting the need for more diverse body type dolls for young girls.


Overall, people seem to be happy with the changes, but they are quick to point out things that could still be improved with the popular doll.  Further, people have wondered- have these changes been made because it’s a good thing to do or because it’s good business? Changing a toy may not make a big difference, but regardless, the action is opening up a big conversation on body diversity that may or may not have an impact on young peoples’ perceptions of the acceptability of varying body shapes and sizes.


Holiday Wrap-Up

Body Image moments of 2015The past year has had some major body image moments, from media breakthrou


Body Image moments of 2015


The past year has had some major body image moments, from media breakthroughs to normalizing every day conversations about our bodies.  It seems like each year we are moving forward with embracing our bodies inch by inch.  Here is a look back at some of the biggest body image moments of 2015.


Ideals, Standards, and Stereotypes Take a Hit

Celebrities really pushed against the media this year in their body image commentary, minimizing the importance of fitting the “ideal” body type. Many famous women commented on the love of their diverse bodies and praised the unique beauty found in everyone. However, these revelations did not come about without some serious soul searching. Celebrities are starting to talk realistically about their “imperfections” (things that don’t fall into the cultural standard for beauty), allowing the general public to better identify with them and to start tearing down the idea that these people we see in the media are “perfect”. Even they don’t reach the unattainable standard that we have created in our culture.


Further, the awareness of celebrities about the focus of female appearance is gaining traction. For instance, a movement is starting on the red carpet to #askhermore than about who she is wearing or the color of her nail polish. A clear distinction between males and females at award shows, in interviews, etc. is the focus on appearance over talents. Why do we ask men about their work and women about their workouts? One poignant example of this media habit was brought to light in the past year when a famous athlete transitioned to a female. Caitlyn Jenner quickly realized that upon her transition, her worth became more so dependent on her appearance rather than achievements.




Major Athletes Back Body Image

Misty Copeland made history this year as the first black female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre. Not only is her race unique to this position, but her body differs from most other ballerinas. In fact, as a young ballerina Misty was told that she had “the wrong body for ballet.” Her catapult into the spotlight has allowed her to share her body image perspective, sharing how she has succeeded in her career without having to fit into the ballerina mold.



Rhonda Rousey also made headlines this year as she dominated the UFC circuit, often speaking out about body image. Critics of Rousey called her body masculine for not looking like the ideal woman’s body.  However, Rousey quickly turned the conversation to the function of her body over its appearance, stating that it has been “developed for a purpose”. Her brazen personality has turned a few heads, but her self-confidence and outspoken body security remains to keep her in the spotlight.


Men Have Body Insecurities Too

Most of the body image conversation has centered on women, but this year a large focus was put on men’s body image insecurities as well. Men are generally expected not to care as much about their appearance due to the stigma attached to male vanity. However, this way of thinking only contributes to misogyny and gender inequality. Men suffer from appearance worries as well. In fact, many men are concerned with not being big or muscular enough, sometimes leading to a clinical level of psychopathology associated with Body Dysmorphic Disorder. This “bigorexia” condition (as it is being called) can not only lead to anxiety and depression, but also the use of steroids to achieve this look can cause heart attacks and strokes.


This year has increased traction on the body image forefront. Hopefully, we can expand the conversation in 2016 and continue to shift views towards embracing our bodies.


Cheers to a bright body image future!





Banning Together

Imagine what we could do if we refocused our attention to empowering ourselves and one another. We



Imagine what we could do if we refocused our attention to empowering ourselves and one another.

We see it all the time…women tearing each other down.  It has become a part of our culture to fight against one another instead of working together.  We’ve been taught to seek validation and to compete against other women for that validation.  It’s time for change.


Organizational Misunderstandings

One contributor to this clawing to the top is the format of organizations traditionally valuing and rewarding “masculine” behaviors.  Basically, behaviors more commonly associated with men are rewarded, while behaviors more commonly associated with women are discouraged.  Let’s dive into this a little more…

Some examples of traditionally thought of said “masculine” behaviors include being extroverted, aggressive, authoritative, taking risks, and exuding confidence.  These traits are praised of men in the workplace, but are often frowned upon when women do the same.  For example, leadership qualities or demonstrative behavior is seen as good when coming from men, but are seen as brash when coming from women.


Bitch vs. Boss

For some reason, when women do lean towards these rewarded “masculine” behaviors, their intentions are often misinterpreted.  If a woman leads in a way that is not characteristically “female”, people tend to associated it with “bitchiness”.  It is difficult to establish the friend versus mentor/leader/boss relationship without appearing “bitchy” in society.  Female friendship is based on equality, while male friendship often places value on hierarchy.  This distinction makes it hard for a female boss to lead a subordinate in a seemingly “friendly” manner.

 

Interoffice Gossip

Sharing information is often a bonding ritual between women, but what about sharing gossip in the workplace? Gossip often breaks down the strength of a group of females and creates an environment of distrust.  This type of communication built on secrets, back-stabbing, and capitalizing on vulnerabilities typically tears down a community.  In fact, a woman’s appearance can be the center of office gossip even though it has nothing to do with performance.  On the other hand, relevant non-judgmental information within circles/groups may help build it up.  Therefore, women need to work together and help each other succeed.  Together, women can work to accomplish great things obtain the credit we deserve!


So What Can We Do?

Now that we realize the dynamics of women and how we operate in organizations or competitive situations, we can better understand our behaviors.  When women are called out as being “catty”, a lot of us accept it as the way we are.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Instead, we can do our best work while supporting other women instead of tearing them down.  Even if we are competing for a spot, we don’t need to be malicious and immature. This includes appearance.

Women often turn to negative comments about another woman’s appearance to bring them down.  Appearance has nothing to do with performance…so let’s leave that catty behavior out.  Instead, we need to shift our view as women to eliminate gossip and the judging of appearance in the workplace.  Creating these divides only hurts each other in an environment where women need to support each other.

It all starts with how we interact with the women in our lives.  If we show others that we can have good, empowering relationships with other strong women, then those relationships will spread.  It is difficult to be our best career-selves and still support others competing for the same position, but if we take out the “female” behavior expectations and appearance comments, we can create a more friendly work environment. We can create a world of women banning together to create the next top positions hand-in-hand, instead of against one another.



Self-Deprecation

We’ve all heard people talk badly about themselves before.  We may even do it sometimes ourselv


We’ve all heard people talk badly about themselves before.  We may even do it sometimes ourselves.  An “I need to lose 10 pounds” comment here and a “don’t let me eat that cookie” comment there and our whole day turns the focus on deprecating comments about our bodies or unhealthy relationship with food.  Let’s take a further look into these habits and see the root of the matter as well as the damage it can cause.

 

Why? Connection and Culture

Sadly, self-deprecating comments have become a way of connecting in our culture.  Women (and men) get together and list the parts of their bodies they don’t like.  From Mean Girls to Amy Schumer, it’s an issue that is addressed as a somewhat comical and ridiculous cultural habit.  At times, we use it as a way to apologize for our bodies.  We think that by addressing our perceived body issues we are letting others know that we are aware of our own “atrocities” and address them as so...like an apology.  We also use self-deprecating comments as a way of expressing guilt.  We can be hard on ourselves out loud to express guilt as a cultural norm.  For instance, it’s not uncommon to hear “I shouldn’t have eaten that” or “I should have gone to the gym”.  So why is it acceptable to berate ourselves?  Would you say that to a friend?



No. In fact, to our friends we do the opposite.  We hand out appearance-based compliments like they are going out of style.  But to others we don’t know, we often judge their appearance.  So just a recap: We criticize ourselves, praise our friends, and judge strangers all based on appearance because it is what we have learned to do as a culture.

                                         

Result? Spreads Insecurities

This common attitude perpetuates low self-esteem.  Like a snowball effect, one person says a self-deprecating comment, which encourages a friend to say another about themselves to make the other person feel better, and so on... But would you have brought attention to your appearance insecurities or even known you were insecure about them otherwise?  The body negativity spreads until everyone is unhappy with something.

 

What to do? Change the Habit

Change is easier said than done, but we can practice going about self-deprecating comments in a different way.

  1. Break the chain.  First, don’t start the self-hate snowball of comments among friends.  Secondly, when a group does start it, change the pace to positive comments and shift the focus to body function.  When we learn to appreciate what our bodies can do we often lessen the negative views we have of it.
  2. Stop justifying.  We use these comments as a way to justify behaviors and apologize for ourselves.  We don’t owe anyone an explanation for our bodies!
  3. Hate is learned. We weren’t born hating our bodies; we learned how to and that it was culturally acceptable from others.  Instead, we need to switch our body view from what we learned with our minds to what we feel in our hearts.  In a spirit of body acceptance for what it is, we can learn to appreciate it as everything it is and does.


Media Exposure

We’ve talked about protecting little girls from harmful messaging by contributing positively to what



We’ve talked about protecting little girls from harmful messaging by contributing positively to what they know about body image and expectations.  What we haven’t addressed is what we can control and contribute in terms of media absorption directly.  Yes, we can help to make them durable to the negative impact of harmful media through our interactions with them, but we can also make sure they receive appropriate messaging at a young age and contribute to their environment early so that they are prepared for exposure later.

So what is appropriate media for young ones to consume?


YouTube, Television, & Movies

Almost everyone has access to an iPhone or iPad these days.  Parents are often quick to give them to their children as a way to engage or pacify them.   In turn, children as young as 2 and 3 are learning to operate them and access a variety of content on their own, with no supervision.  Video services (e.g. YouTube) allow access to a variety of video content from shows to how-to videos to music videos.  Services like YouTube do have a lot of children’s content that is short, musically-oriented, and graphically pleasing.  Some of this content is acceptable, but kids are often exploring the apps on their own, opening their eyes to a wide variety of inappropriate content.  Your little girl may be content watching music videos or reality tv shows, but kids pick up on more than we think.


Why it’s Harmful

Even kid/teen shows have content that isn’t necessarily appropriate for little girls.  We often allow them to watch grown up movies or reality television shows with us, thinking that they are entertained and not understanding subtle messaging.  However, even if programming doesn’t seem overtly harmful in our opinion, it could include subtle, and often harmful messaging.  Much of the media focuses on extreme standards and social dynamics.  Kids can pick up on this and have an expectation that this is the way the world is when really, this is just simulated reality.

Children learn a variety of harmful messages from the media including, but not limited to:

  1. Stereotypes
    We may be used to seeing stereotypes in the media, but children are not.  When they continually see specific races and genders in the same situations, these stereotypes become engrained before they even have the chance to interact with others and come to their own conclusions.  These learned stereotypes create a pattern of sweeping judgments rather than individual acceptance.
  2. Interactions 
    Children also learn how to interact with others through the media.  Without much of their own experiences to guide them, children pick up on how to treat others in friendships, family relationships, and other types of relationships through how they see those play out in the media…which is often inappropriate.
  3. Cultural Expectations 
    Young kids aren’t born with what is expected of them on board…they learn it.  The sources they learn from are up to us.  When we saturate their minds with unattainable expectations (often fostered by the media) or present them with specific boxes they must fit in, we limit their growth and freedom to be their unique selves.
Not only is media content itself harmful, but research shows that too much screen time actually can impact health in negative ways. For example, Screen time can lead to decreased health habits and put children at risk for eating issues and obesity.  Sitting instead of being active, being exposed to advertisements of unhealthy foods, and eating while watching are all components of screen time that increase the risk of obesity.  Too much time in front of the TV can also interfere with children falling asleep and increase attention problems, anxiety, and depression.


Media “Value System”

Children are impressionable.  The early stages of life encourage fast learning and personality shaping.  For this reason, it is our responsibility to filter the content they receive.  The only way we can have a firm grasp on what is/isn’t acceptable is to form our own “value systems”.  When we decide what the core values are related to what we will allow our children to watch, we can more easily create an environment of healthy growth and development and say “no” when opportunities arise for our kids to be exposed to things we don’t see fit. 

These rules must tune into our core beliefs on what is helpful and what is harmful, and we must explore the subtleties in programming to navigate what fits into our “value system” and what does not.

If we don’t set some criteria for what is OK ahead of time, each media experience will require an individual evaluation of sorts, which over time is too labor intensive and easier to give in to in situations where there is pressure from the child or pressure from social situations to allow media in that goes against the value system.  Instead, it is easier to decide if something qualifies according to previously established criteria.


Criteria to Consider

There is so much gray area in the world of raising children (and there is no clear “right” way), but we believe there are a couple simple things we can remember when evaluating if media is appropriate and fits into our “value system”.

  1. Does it enrich the child’s life? Many shows incorporate useful lessons and skills into their programming!
  2. Is the content representative of a world you would want the child to be a part of? If you don’t want your little girl to someday be fighting over a man in a pool of half-naked women, don’t let her watch The Bachelor.
  3. Screen Time Limitations.  Regardless of the messaging in the media, science shows the harm in excessive screen time.  Set limitations and stick to them. (We recommend 1-2 hours per day)

Media messaging saturates our lives and the lives of our children and it’s up to us to provide them with healthy messaging and appropriate media at a young age.  We are perpetuating all these standards into the next generations if we continue to engage in it. Thus, we too become part of the problem. Instead, we can limit exposure, choose exposure to healthy sources, and in general, particularly at young ages, limit screen time and turn to more enriching activities for the brain and spirit, like reading, playing outside, playing games, etc.  Hopefully, these simple guidelines can help lead our little girls (and boys) to be strong adults that contribute to a healthy, productive society, leaving behind unrealistic media standards and harmful social dynamics that have been perpetuated throughout our mass media culture. 

All She Knows

Let’s imagine a scenario for a minute about a little girl named Mia.  Mia is 5 years old and ge


Let’s imagine a scenario for a minute about a little girl named Mia.  Mia is 5 years old and gets stopped by a stranger in the grocery store who tells her, “What’s your name? You’re so pretty! And look at that beautiful dress.”  At that moment, she learns that she is praised for her appearance, because that’s all she knows. When Mia is 12, she is at school in the bathroom and sees the other girls putting on makeup in the mirror so they would be “pretty” and “the boys would like them”.  At that moment, she learns that girls are praised on their appearance, because that’s all she knows.  When Mia is 16, she is thumbing through a magazine at a friend’s house and realizes that she doesn’t look like anyone in the magazine.  At that moment, she learns that women are praised for looking exactly like these ideal images, because that’s all she knows.  If Mia has learned that her and her friends are valued on their appearance, a specific unattainable appearance…can you imagine her limited view of the world and where she fits in it?  In her mind, her value is based on what she cannot achieve, leading to constant failure and dissatisfaction with her appearance and perceived worth.

How do we change this? We change/contribute to what she knows.

With all the media saturation in society, we can’t control the negative messaging that young girls are receiving, but we can contribute positive messages that set girls up with tools to combat gender and appearance standards.  Here are a few ways to change the messaging we are sending:


Talk to girls differently

The norm in our culture is to tell girls how pretty/cute/beautiful/well-dressed they are.  However, doing this teaches girls that their appearance is the notable thing of value they have.  Placing so much value on appearance from the beginning perpetuates a life based mostly on looks, lacking meaning and intrinsic value.

If we change the dialogue to focus on activities, personality, intelligence, or their passions, etc., we can send alternate messaging to combat society’s focus on appearance and start building up resistance to false media messages.  Such a conversation might center on a book she’s reading or how fast she can run in her sneakers.


Allow girls to be comfortable with their bodies starting young

With all of the media images saturating the brains of girls, it’s important for them to have a strong connection to what a body is as opposed to what it looks like.  The more girls are comfortable with their bodies the better they will fare when saturated with “perfect bodies” by the media.

In a 2007 study by Dove, researchers found that by the age of 12, a girl has seen more than 77,000 advertisements.  When questioned, these girls said they were unhappy with their bodies because they didn’t measure up to the images in those advertisements.  Let’s try to alleviate the blow and accompanying low self-esteem by providing a plethora of body confidence from the get-go.

Allowing self-expression is one way to help girls become comfortable with who they are.  Why can’t she wear sneakers with a dress?  Why can’t she wear her ninja turtle mask with her pink tutu?  When we let girls grow and establish their own identities, they can flourish into their authentic selves without suffocating shaping from their environment.


Erase talk of good and bad

It’s not good or bad…sometimes it just IS…

We learn so much is classified as good and bad and that the world is black and white…but that is not true! The good and bad classifications often come as a result of society’s “rules”. That said, if the rules are dropped for a  minute, it becomes clear that wearing a dress with sneakers is quite fine if it expresses the authentic self of a little girl in that moment.  In this life of gray area, it’s important for girls to understand that it’s ok to not be what society deems as “good” such as the thin ideal images in the media.  It’s also important to understand that eating dessert isn’t “bad”.  Creating a negative relationship with certain things such as food is unhealthy.  Instead, we need to see life as a spectrum where everyone is allowed to be themselves.  Certain behaviors are not “good” or “bad” either and everything exists as a part of a greater situation called life.  It’s not “bad” to say NO and it’s not “bad” to question the status quo!  It’s all part of learning and challenging beliefs as a combination of our experiences and what we’ve been taught.  There is no right or wrong when it comes to being who we are.


So let’s break the chain of playing along to society’s rules.  Start today moving forward with the interactions in your own life.  If what a girl becomes is highly shaped by society’s opinions, then we are changing the natural course of her development into a unique, unrepeatable self.  Let’s challenge society’s rules by changing all she knows to be so much more than some standard that at some point society deemed as “good” and “worthy”.


Breaking Barriers: People Who Inspire Us - Ronda Rousey

She’s not a “Do Nothing B----” Ronda Rousey is America’s newest fascination.  She has quickly


She’s not a “Do Nothing B----”

Ronda Rousey is America’s newest fascination.  She has quickly risen to fame with quick knock-outs and no apologies.  Instead of being America’s “sweetheart”, Ronda has become the fierce American girl with strong values and an even stronger right hook.  Here are just a few things we can learn from this All-American renegade.


Function First

“There’s not a single muscle on my body that isn’t for a purpose”

Ronda does not have the average female body, nor does she match up to the thin-ideal appearance.  She knows this and accepts it is proud of it.  We can learn from her intense passion for body purpose. She has developed her body for the purpose of taking care of herself.  Her focus on what she can do overrides media and society pressures to look a certain way.  We too can focus on the abilities of our bodies over appearance to fuel body acceptance and pride.



Confidence

“Somebody told me once that it’s the pretty fighters you have to watch out for.  If someone’s all gnarled and mangled up, obviously they’ve been getting hit a lot.”

Ronda is a champ when it comes to confidence.  She’s been accused of being cocky, but she’s backed up everything she’s claimed.   She’s not afraid to say what’s on her mind or go against the grain.  She’s been chastised for not giving a handshake after a fight because she didn’t feel that respect for that particular opponent was warranted.  We too can learn to center on our true selves and not apologize for being who we genuinely are.



Woman Power

“I call it a do nothing b----. A DNB.

The kind of chick that just tries to be pretty and be taken care of by someone else.

I’m not a do nothing b----.”


Ronda is clear that she is in control of her life and her body.  She may not need to be taken care of, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to share her life with someone else.  Her body isn’t designed to please anyone but herself.  By taking on the traditional male sport of fighting, Ronda is breaking gender norms with grace.  She is taking strength and reclassifying it as also being a feminine trait.  We too can step outside of traditional gender roles and be in control of what we do with our bodies.


 

Ronda may be an unlikely role-model, but we can learn a few things from her whether she wants us to or not.  She’s got her eye on what she wants and won’t let anyone get in her way.  We can totally be just as fierce as Ronda when we allow ourselves to be who we are meant to be (natural body type, genuine personality, etc.)…without apologies.


Be Kind

The world can be a cruel place.  We all experience some type of unkindness in our lives, but wh


The world can be a cruel place.  We all experience some type of unkindness in our lives, but why?  Our bodies are a large source of malicious comments…even to ourselves.  What we don’t realize is the impact of our words and actions, whether they are directed at someone else’s’ appearance or our own.  These words cut deep.  Even if comments are not made, the mentality of thinking that people are lesser because of how they look (e.g. birthmarks, weight, race, etc.) is a dangerous viewpoint to have.

A new study published in Pediatric Obesity found that being “fat” was the most common reason for bullying.  Children learn weight stigma at an early age that passes onto adulthood.  Recently, a picture of a couple went viral simply because a smaller woman was dating a larger man.  Online comments suggested that he didn’t “deserve” to be with her because of his size.  But weight isn’t the only reason for appearance bullying.  Many people are born with abnormalities that they must live with for the rest of their lives and people bully them for it…even though they cannot change it.  The most troubling aspect of this type of bullying is idea that these people are less deserving of appreciation and basic kindness.

1: Embrace Diversity

No two bodies are the same.  Just like artwork, although each piece differs, they can all be appreciated.  Instead of judging and separating each other based on differences, we should celebrate our unique qualities that make us unrepeatable.

2: Cultivate Compassion

Genuine compassion and judgment cannot co-exist.  When we decide to cultivate compassion, we leave no room for punishment and criticism.

3: Golden Rule

Since when did the golden rule not apply to everyone?  We must remember to treat others as we would like to be treated, with no exceptions.

 

Ripple Effect

Being kind comes down to making these changes starting with ourselves and the small communities in which we belong.  Small changes have ripple effects and impact others around us to do the same.  The more we embrace and not bully, tease, and point out differences (when we are all really the same beings inside), the world really in fact could change...really.


Transgender News Roundup

Earlier this week we posted about the specific body image issues that many transgender people face.&


Earlier this week we posted about the specific body image issues that many transgender people face.  However, there are many other articles out this week on transgender issues.  Here are some recent articles discussing the many obstacles encountered by transgender people and the strides we are making to overcome them.


Caitlyn Jenner Says She’ll Push for Acceptance of Transgender PeopleTheNewYorkTimes:  “I’m clear with my responsibility in going forward: to tell my story the right way, for me; to keep learning; to do whatever I can to reshape the landscape of how trans issues are viewed, how trans people are treated; and then more broadly, to promote a very simple idea — accepting people for who they are.”

Google’s ESPY Transgender Ad Breaks Ground – USAToday: “The commercial focuses on the sense of community and belonging Nothnagel found at a local gym that helped him sculpt the masculine physique he had always wanted. It was filmed last year to highlight the personal touch of small businesses and the power of the Web to connect these small businesses with their customers.”

Transgender Army Sergeant Who Lives as a Man is Forced to Wear a Woman’s UniformDailyMailUK: “Under current legislation, transgender people are banned from military service. But studies and other surveys have estimated that as many as 15,000 transgender people serve in the active duty military and the reserves, often in secret but in many cases with the knowledge of their unit commander or peers.”

Life as a Transgender High School AthleteViceSports: “Transgender athletes who are under the age of 18, like Dawkins, have to navigate an even more complicated web of regulations and stigmas. At least six states (Idaho, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and New Hampshire) have rules that require school-age transgender athletes to have an altered birth certificate or sexual-reassignment surgery in order to participate.”

Pentagon May Lift Ban on Transgender PeopleCNN: “Carter made the announcement in a memo outlining a pair of directives to both study the effect of transgender service men and women over the next sixth months, as well as adding the new protocol that any personnel diagnosed with gender dysphoria or who identify as transgender will have their paperwork for dismissal from the military reviewed at the highest personnel levels in DOD.”

‘Family Circle’ Features Transgender FamilyYahoo!: “The intention of the “Modern Life” column, Rust says, is to tell “real stories about real people,” and to enlighten readers. “The concept of having a transgender child is confusing and complicated for some readers, but when you present a loving family like this, my hope is to educate,” she says. “We want readers to see how loving this family is so we can all have a little more understanding about what it means to have a transgender child.”


Body Image in the Transgender Community

 The average person has body image issues related to fitting the societal “norm”, but transgend


Trans

 

The average person has body image issues related to fitting the societal “norm”, but transgendered people have body image issues outside of the entire norm spectrum.  They don’t just not match society, but their body doesn’t match who they are either. Body image is hard enough for the cis population, but with trans territory comes a lot of body image complications and expectations.

cis_trans


As a culture, we have certain expectations for what it means to be male or female. Each gender is assigned specific colors, toys, and activities that identify with the gender. Appearance is the biggest gender expectation and the hardest one to break. Making the appearance shift between genders is a long process that takes years and may never be “complete” in the eyes of others. However, the gender itself has always existed within the person changing. This slow appearance transition is frustrating enough without the judgment from others. People are comfortable with what they are familiar with…so, being in-between genders during this process (or not identifying as one particular gender) is disconcerting for those who are not familiar with, exposed, or simply don’t understand, the transgendered community.

Additionally, society adds body image pressures to the trans community by often spreading the message that the way they want to look is wrong. Body shaming is widespread for all, but shaming an individual’s identity is an added layer of humiliation when it comes to the transgendered population. Even as the world becomes more accepting, society as a whole still likes to be able to tell others how to live their lives. Unfortunately, due to the smaller number of transgendered people, they may be last on the road to acceptance in a world of high diversity (and often low acceptance of diversity).

Further- the double-standard focus is on appearance. When a male transforms into a female, society immediately applies longstanding, unrealistic appearance standards to the “new” woman. The gender gap is highly apparent in this situation. For example, as soon as Caitlyn Jenner emerged in the media, the main focus was on her appearance. It was as if all of her past accomplishments, skills, traits, etc. vanished. Transitioning between genders not only changes a person’s physical appearance, but also changes standards and overall perceptions and expectations from the world around them based solely on gender.


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Instead of spending our time telling others how they should look and identify, we could spend our time being more positive and productive by embracing others as they are and working on what is in our control: ourselves. There are a few things we can do to make the lives of others a little less trying and a little more at ease:

1) Examine ourselves to better understand others. We may have past experiences that unfairly shape our views of current situations.

2) Be open to new things. Sometimes as humans we are quick to judge or be defensive when things are unfamiliar to us.

3) Golden rule: Treat others how you would like to be treated. Following this simple principle leads to better relationships.

When we do these things, we cultivate acceptance of others as well as love of self through deeper understanding and a patient spirit.


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For more information, see this infographic.