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Why this Tween Magazine was Under Fire Due to This Swimsuit Article for Girls

discovery-girls-swimsuit-magazine (1)I was recently on the Today Show talking about Discovery Girls and their misstep in publishing an article on swimsuits for specific body types. Some people thought it was a big deal– others did not. What’s your view?

What are the girls experiencing in preteen years that makes this a tough time?

During the preteen years, a girl’s body is changing, her brain is changing and she is moving from the child stage to the teen and young adult stage. It can feel weird and confusing for any girl—so many turn to communities and resources where they feel safe and valued for who they are.

Why is this article a big deal?

This is the time of year when every magazine is focusing on bathing suits and what cuts are best to accentuate their best features and hide features that are less valued in our culture. When preteen magazines jump on the bandwagon, it sends a message to girls that they need to be thinking about how they look—form over function- when it comes to swim suit.

Of course, teen magazines could have a lot of fun with bathing suit styles by flipping the conversation and asking; “What bathing suit style is best for what you LOVE to do” or “What bathing suit patterns reflect your personality?” And going into bold or subtle prints, loud and soft colors and other fun fashion topics like that.

Why was that one sentence in the apology about the magazine attempting to simply “build confidence in girls” a big deal?

Many parents don’t want their girls to get the message that what you wear and how you look affects whether you feel confident. We all make mistakes, absolutely, and I think parents just wanted to hear that a mistake was made, they take full responsibility and it will never happen again.

How do you build a girl’s confidence?

A girl can build confidence by (1) gaining mastery in something she cares about and (2) feeling connected, safe and valued by people she cares about in and outside of her home. When a girl believes in herself, pushes through barriers, succeeds after failing and feels she has key people to rely on in her life, she gains confidence. Confidence is built from the inside out, not the other way around.

Kinds of message this article can inadvertently send:

This kind of an article can send a negative message to a girl who is using the magazine as a safe place to learn how to be a healthy preteen. When we talk about the need to hide areas of our bodies to look good in a swimsuit, we are saying that there are parts of every girl’s body that may need to be covered because it’s not acceptable.

Let’s be blunt. Raising a girl in today’s appearance-oriented world can be a challenge. When articles seem to reflect rather than deflect the media messages plaguing our girls that state “your value comes from how you look or you need to change the way you look to fit what others think is valuable,” parents get very upset. This is especially true when they trust the resource and feel that the focus took an unexpected turn.

What did you think of the article?

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Louis C.K.’s “Fat Girl” Scene Strikes a Cord with Women Everywhere

Last week, I was on Good Morning America to talk about Louis C.K.’s now famous “Fat Girl” scene in which actress Sarah Baker, gives a unique and honest perspective about being “a fat-girl in her 30s living in New York City.” And while some still complained that the scene was far from perfect, others found it “absolutely magnificent.”  Vanessa, the character played by Baker, simply put her opinions out there, without sadness or apology, and said what was on her mind.

GMA_mayphoto_800_400_cropWhy did it strike such a nerve?

In short; when we are used to seeing fantasy, photoshop and fabrication of the truth, a little raw honesty goes a long, long way.  The character of Vanessa is vivacious, smart, interesting and beautiful and she tells Louis without any self pity, be honest with me, be honest with yourself and realize by saying “you’re not fat,” you discount me, you refuse to see me and you join the legions of others who stereotype because of my weight.  Being “fat” doesn’t take away a person’s gifts and strengths.  Being plus-size and amazing are not mutually exclusive.  Can’t she just be who she is and still be loved and celebrated?

What does this segment tell men?

This 7 minute segment tells men to (1) break the bond between the term fat and the ugly stereotypes that are unfairly associated with it, (2) hang up your hang ups and be with the person who you like and who brings out the best in you and (3) realize that the problem of stereotyping women is not just a woman problem, it’s everyone’s problem—don’t be another of society’s lemmings, be part of the solution.

What’s one thing we can take from this scene?

People aren’t seeing themselves reflected in the media and this is warping our concept of what is normal. I think society needs to see and hear from someone who so obviously breaks the stereotype, that everyone is worthy of being loved, everyone of us brings something important to the table and “fat” and “thin” are simply descriptors of body types not of worth or character.

Brief aside: I really enjoyed doing this segment on Good Morning America.  And an extra perk?  I met theJimParsonsBBT enormously talented Jim Parsons that day who was also there.  Bonus!  Or should I say, Bazinga!

Now back to Louis C.K.  What did you think of the segment?

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TV Anchor, Jennifer Livingston, Called Fat: Fights Back Against Her Body Bully

(Note; My Today Show Health Report Interview on this topic included below)


The internet blew up yesterday with applause for Jennifer Livingston, a TV anchor in Wisconsin, who spoke out about fat hatred and what I call, “body bullying” after receiving a derogatory email from a viewer about her weight.

The viewer’s email read;

“Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain. I leave you this note hoping that you’ll reconsider your responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle.”

Jennifer fired back with a very thoughtful, stern and directed response.

“The internet has become a weapon. Our schools have become a battleground. And this behavior is learned – it is passed down from people like the man who wrote me that e-mail. If you were at home talking about the fat news lady – guess what? Your children are probably going to go to school and call someone fat. We need to teach our kids how to be kind – not critical and we need to do that by example. So many of you have come to my defense over the past four days.

To my colleagues and friends from today and from years ago…my family, my amazing husband and so many of you out there that I will probably never have the opportunity to meet – I will never be able to thank you enough for you words of support. And for taking a stand against this bully. We are better than that e-mail. We are better than the bullies that would try to take us down.

And I leave you with this… to all the children out there who feel lost…who are struggling with your weight, the color of your skin, your sexual preference, your disability – even the acne on your face…listen to me right now. Do not let your self worth be defined by bullies. Learn from my experience that the the cruel words of one…are nothing compared to the shouts of many.”

I was interviewed by the Today Show Health Report about this incident.

Livingston’s move is a step toward civility in a society that thinks a woman’s weight is fair game, said Dr. Robyn Silverman, a body image expert and author of the book “Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession is Messing Up Our Girls & How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It.”

“I applaud her for her response,” Silverman said. “It was a very responsible response.”

We’ve become a “fault-finding” society where it’s acceptable to make snarky comments about anyone, but especially those in the public eye, Silverman said.

When Livingston stood up to the mean-spirited viewer, she was helping combat the messages that say it’s OK to judge people based on weight.

“We send the message to our children that they are not good enough, they are not valuable enough, unless they look a certain way,” Silverman said.

While the fat-shaming speaks volumes to the girls and young women today who must constantly hear these messages wherever they go, it wasn’t the direct slams on Livingston’s weight that frustrated her the most.

On the Today Show this morning, Livingston told Savannah Guthrie;

“I can deal with being called fat … with being called obese. It was calling me a bad role model that rubbed me the wrong way, and not only a bad role model for our community, but for young girls, in particular.”

Young girls need to see and hear that they can be and do whatever they dream of in life– that their determination, hard work, smarts and talents will put them in the forefront- no matter what their weight, size, height or overall appearance.  We need more women (and men) like Jennifer Livingston who stand up and tell the world that they are worthy just the way they are– and that bullies should not and will not define them.  But they especially need to hear that as girls and young women, that they are valuable too– that they set their own path and their own definition of worth.  Jennifer Livingston did just that– and for that, I truly applaud her.

Yes, she certainly seems like a role model to me.

Unschooling: Is radical homeschooling right for your child?


Unschooling is a radical form of homeschooling that throws the books out the window on traditional learning. School [School newly corrected: Learning] takes place out of traditional school doors and on the child’s own terms. Today, I sat down with Matt Lauer on The Today Show, to discuss it.

How can this work?

(1) Know your child. Some children thrive in a less rigid, less structured, more free form education process. Some children are self propelled, self motivated, and ready to learn in many different kinds of ways. Other children thrive with structure and adult guidance.

(2) Know yourself: It may not sound like it, but this is an investment on the parents part. Self directed not mean by themselves. Unschooling doesn’t mean only exposed to what’s in front of you. Parents must be willing to get out, get their hands dirty, and take the road less traveled.  (There are lots of sites and blogs where parents and young people are sharing their experiences so you can see what this entails).

Why would people do this?

(1) Some parents may be dissatisfied with the local school system, their personal education growing up or even what traditional schools provide today.

(2) Some parents may have an exceptional child who has specific gifts that they believe would be better suited outside of the traditional classroom structure. Read more

Preschool Children & the Effects of Fast-Paced TV? Dr. Robyn Silverman talks about a new study


Isn’t it true? Most of us these days probably have the TV on at some point during the day—but we probably haven’t given too much thought about it’s effect on executive function. My preschooler, Tallie, loves her daily dose of Sesame Street in the morning. Most of the parents I know allow there children to watch a few educational shows during the day.  Do you?

This morning I was on The Today Show talking about a new study that came out today on screen time and preschoolers. The study, in the journal Pediatrics, provides additional evidence on something we already likely knew: Too much TV is not a good thing.  But it also provides more nuanced information that the type of TV your preschoolers are watching can also make a difference—especially with regard to executive function.

Method: Sixty 4-year-olds were randomly assigned to watch a fastpaced television cartoon or an educational cartoon or draw for 9 minutes. They were then given 4 tasks tapping executive function…Parents completed surveys regarding television viewing and child’s attention. (Lillard & Peterson, 2011)

What is Executive Function?

Executive function is the collective term for the process of being able to pay attention, make a plan, and actually carry out that plan until the goal of that Read more

The Rub with Greasy Grub: Is Fast Food the New F Word?

blog_fastfood…………… Fear Fast Food? Media leads us like the Pied Piper to Fast Food Joints around the world and simultaneously slaps us on the wrist for eating at these “sugary,” “caloric,” “fatty,” greasy spoons. We are not only told that these foods are bad—but that we are indeed bad for eating them. How do these messages affect our teens?  Rebecca Tishman, our resident teen writer who brought you this popular article, (Are Schools Helping Kids Down the Path of Eating Disorders) provides her view…not just as a teen but as a teen who has been recovering from an eating disorder. Let her tell you why fearing Fast Food is bad for our health.

The Rub with Greasy Grub

By: Rebecca Tishman

If you are anything like I was a year ago you may not even being able to step foot in a fast food restaurant. I mean, most people think that fast food is either the root of all evil or it’s the best thing since sliced bread. I was definitely leaning towards the former, so it might surprise you to know that after spending less than 24 hours in a Eating Disorders treatment facility last January, I was confronted with the big bad F words- Fast Food.

Wednesday nights are restaurant challenge nights at the Klarman Center and even though I had just arrived the day before, I was no exception to the rule that you eat or you replace your meal with CIB (Carnation Instant Breakfast). Well let me tell you, eating Burger King as my fourth meal in months was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. I’m sure that Read more

Pornography, Sexualization, and Thinspiration: A Steady Diet Of Trash Fed to Our Kids

DrRobynSilverman_verysmwebDr. Robyn’s Friday Rant

So, in the beginning of this week I wrote about boys and pornography. Yesterday I received an email from my colleague, friend, and media-busting crusader, Amy Jussel of Shaping Youth asking for input on the sexualization focus she is doing. Then last night I read an article in The Baltmore Sun about a new study on the pro-ana and pro-mia websites out there telling girls how to be thinner and of course, how not to “god-forbid” get fatter. Ugh; what the heck are we doing?

Pornography. Sexualization. Thinspiration. To put it bluntly; we are receiving a steady diet of crap.  So, it’s gotten me thinking globally.  We’ve heard the argument that America is being left behind because we’re not doing enough in schools to fill our children’s minds with extra doses of new math, old history, and cutting edge science.  But I don’t think that’s the problem—I think the problem is that we are filling our children’s minds with so much garbage that, in many cases, there isn’t enough room or time to reflect on things that actually matter. Read more

Are post-pregnancy bodies ugly?

Woman, body image and scaleOne of my friends told me the other day that she needed to lose some weight. “Look at this” she said, as she grabbed the skin on her stomach. “Ever since I had the baby, my belly is no longer flat.  I hate it. I have to lose some weight.”

Ugh. So, this is what body image issues looks like post pregnancy.  It’s become such a mainstream issue that I even talked about it on The Tyra Show with one absolutely beautiful yet devastated mother who was so embarrassed by her body after pregnancy, she wouldn’t allow her husband to see her without clothes on.

After submerging myself in the body image issues of teen girls, you would hope that somewhere along the lines, Read more

Dr. Robyn Silverman on The Tyra Show Talking about Body Image

Dr. Robyn Silverman, body image expert, was on The Tyra show talking about women, body image and life after pregnancy. After pregnancy, many women have trouble accepting the changes in their bodies.  Loose skin, stretch marks, and extra weight can make new Moms feel inferior given the definition of beauty put out by media and carried out by the rest of society.  Dr. Robyn coached one young woman, Maria, through her body image challenges so that she was able to embrace her body and show it off proudly.


New Poll: Girls Feeling the Pressure from the Fashion Industry

Filipa_RalphLaurenA National Study released by Girl Scouts of the USA tells us that 9 out of 10 girls say that the fashion industry is at least partially responsible for girls’ obsession with being skinny today.

In this nationwide study called “Beauty Redefined,” more than 1000 girls ages 13-17 were surveyed. Would you like to hear a recipe for low body esteem?

  • 89% say that fashion/media puts a lot of pressure on girls to be thin.
  • 3 out of 4 girls say fashion is very important to them.

Hmmmm. They feel the pressure of he media but also hold fashion and media in high regard– voila! Read more