Archive for March 2011

Again Abercrombie…REALLY?

What will it take for Abercrombie & Fitch to stop its obnoxious and offensive practice of oversexualizing young girls and women and generally encouraging low self-esteem and body image everywhere? First we had the t-shirts that said things like “Do I Make You Look Fat?” and for men, “Female Students Wanted for Sexual Research.” There are the Abercrombie & Fitch Quarterly catalogs that were full of so many nude bodies one would be hard-pressed to actually identify any clothes they might want to purchase. Remember the catalog cover in 2002 that had the words “Group Sex” splashed across the cover? Classy! (Not!). Or how about the time they decided it was a good idea to produce thongs for young girls. Oh, and then there was the employee who was banished to the stock room where she wouldn’t interact with customers, as it seems her prosthetic arm didn’t fit the “look” of the store’s brand.

So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised with Abercrombie’s latest, and perhaps most offensive, turn. Padded push-up bikini tops for tweens. That’s right. Now second graders can wear bikini tops that will make them look “sexier.” SERIOUSLY?

There are so many things wrong with this that it’s hard to know where to start. But here are just a few obvious problems. ONE: Girls, no matter how old they are, should not be treated like sex objects. TWO: Sexualizing young girls encourages boys and men to see these young girls as sexual objects. THREE: Padding bikini tops for young girls sends the message that they should grow up faster. FOUR: Padding bikini tops for girls sends the message that their bodies aren’t perfect and beautiful just the way they are.

Here’s what child psychologist Dr. Michael Bradley had to say on ABC News when asked about the impact of Abercrombie’s latest fail:

“We’re actually teaching them that this is their primary value in this culture, that’s what they’re all about. We’re shaping their behavior. We find that kids that get into this stuff do get into high risk early-onset sexual behavior. We whack their body image. We tell them “You’re not okay as you are. You have to use this kinda stuff”. Finally, we’re taking their childhoods away from them. At age eight we throw them into this pressurized, high anxiety world they’re not ready to handle and we think it’s part of why we see so much depression and anxiety in kids.”

So, I ask again…what will it take for Abercrombie & Fitch to stop this harmful practice of pushing the envelope at the expense of young girls and women? Hard to say, especially when the company’s profits jumped 95% in the fourth quarter of 2010.

We can boycott the store, for starters. And then we can tell everyone we know to boycott the store. And then we can sign petitions like this one over at that tells Abercrombie to stop selling padded bikini tops now.

What do you think? Do these padded bikini tops send the wrong message? What do you think is the most effective way to get Abercrombie to change their tune?

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Meet Freestyle Soccer Wonder, Indi Cowie

I love this story about freestyle soccer sensation Indi Cowie. Indi is considered to be one of the best female freestylers in the world, which means she can do amazing moves like the “Head and Foot Stall,” “Lemmens Touzani Around the World,” and the “Vee Stall” better than most. When she was only 10 years old, she could juggle the ball more than 2,000 times without it ever touching the ground! (You can see her doing these moves and more on the video below.)

Indi is a brilliant soccer player in her own right, and she trains and plays with a boy’s team because the pace is faster and she believes it will help her be the best soccer player she can be. And what I love most about this story is Indi’s attitude and approach to honing her craft. She practices at least 90 minutes a day – bringing her training to her personal indoor gym (a.k.a. her garage) to practice her freestyling tricks over and over until she gets them right. Her commitment and dedication to being her best is inspiring…she has a goal and she puts in the time and energy to reach it.

Watch this video from the New York Times below and see if it doesn’t leave you feeling more inspired!

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Break the Cycle’s PSA Contest

Hopeline and Break the Cycle have just joined forces to create a PSA (public service announcement) competition for teens. If you’re between the ages of 13 abd 18, enrolled in high school in the United States (or US Territories), you’re eligible to enter the “Let Your Heart Rule” PSA Contest. To enter, team up with up to four other classmates at your school and create a video PSA that helps raise awareness about dating violence. Five entries will be selected for a special final round where you, your friends and family can all vote for your favorite PSA. The winning team wins some terrific tech from Verizon Wireless and the chance to premiere their PSA on Dr. Phil. And just so we’re clear on what dating abuse is, here’s how Break the Cycle breaks it down:

“Dating abuse isn’t an argument every once in a while, or a bad mood after a bad day. Dating abuse is a pattern of controlling behavior that someone uses against a girlfriend or boyfriend. Dating abuse does not discriminate. It does not see your gender, your religion or your skin color. It does not care whether you are 14 or 24 or if you’re straight or gay. It can happen to anyone.”

Want to enter the contest? Get started brainstorming and find out more here. Or watch the video below to get inspired. Oh yeah…the deadline is April 14th. Good luck!

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Happy International Women’s Day!

Today is the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day (IWD), a day where thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate their achievements.

More than 1700 International Women’s Day events are taking place today in more than 62 countries – from political rallies, business conferences and government activities to women’s local craft markets, theatric performances and fashion parades. Big, small, informal, and highly organized…they’re all doing the same thing: celebrating women’s advancement and highlighting the need for continued vigilance and action.

From the International Women’s Day website:

“The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women’s and society’s thoughts about women’s equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that ‘all the battles have been won for women’ while many feminists from the 1970’s know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women’s visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.

However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives.”

For a list of International Women’s Day events happening in the U.S. (where it is part of National Women’s History Month) and other countries around the world, visit the events page here.

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MTV Gets Schooled

MTV and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have recently partnered with Get Schooled, an organization aimed at raising awareness for the need to decrease dropout rates, improve standards for post-secondary readiness, and increase the number of qualified graduates entering the work force each year, to create the Get Schooled: College Affordability Challenge. This challenge is calling on current and aspiring college students to imagine innovative digital tools to reimagine and simplify the financial aid process.

Three finalists were recently selected from hundreds of submissions from students in 48 states, and you can vote on who you want to win on MTV later this month. Here are the finalists:

Larissa Simpson, The Avatar Project – Larissa is proposing an interactive gaming experience that helps students navigate the process of securing grants, scholarships, and loans to finance their education. Users can personalize their gaming experience using an avatar that guides them through each stage of the process. Positive reinforcement and guided connection with peers through existing social networks will encourage students to meet deadlines and fulfill their college financing goals.

Devin Valencia, The Connect Fund – Devin’s proposing an interactive Facebook application offering a step-by-step guide on how to fill out the FAFSA and apply for grants, scholarships, and loans. The app will prioritize financial aid opportunities based on the user’s demographic info, as well as enable them to get other users’ feedback on their financial aid questions and concerns.

Dekunle Somade, First Aid – Dekunle envisions a single-source online and SMS platform designed to serve as a college financing tool for low-income students. First Aid will organize a wide array of financial aid and admissions info, and make it easier for institutions’ financial aid offices to communicate with students in need. The platform will also track users’ progress towards securing funding for school, and alert them to relevant scholarship and grant opportunities.

The winner will receive $10,000 and see their idea funded by MTV and The College Board Advocacy & Policy Center with a development budget of $100,000, to become a part of the national Get Schooled campaign.

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