The Thigh Gap.

Photo credit: topgold / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Photo credit: topgold / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

It’s hard to look the way a woman “should look”. While the movement of loving ourselves and our bodies no matter what they look like, is gaining momentum, it can be hard to get fully on board. It’s difficult to get the courage to look and the mirror, and when the courage is there, it’s even more difficult to embrace our muffin tops, our stretch marks, and the most popular female flaw as of late, the way our thighs rub together. We all know the story about the recently recalled Lululemon pants, where company founder chose to blame “some women’s bodies” for the flaws in his company’s yoga pants. “It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs,” says Chip Wilson, “how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it.” Right, so as we ladies don’t have enough to worry about now we have to worry about the frequency with which our thighs rub together, because it might ruin our EXTREMELY expensive yoga pants. 

Following Lululemon’s epic media disaster, an image on Target‘s website turned some heads. A photo of a young model showing off a bikini from their juniors collection actually showed that part of her crotch and inner thighs had been edited out to make it appear that this young woman had a canyon between her thighs. The worst part of the Target gaffe was that this swim suit is marketed to pre-teen girls, who are already so easily impressionable.

Then, just to jump on the bandwagon, Old Navy‘s website featured a photo on their website of plus size jeans on a mannequin with an odd white space between the thighs. It almost makes me wonder if there was some kind of secret meeting between clothing companies to decide the newest way they could make women feel bad about their bodies. Just another item on the long and dangerous list that leaves us feeling inadequate, unworthy, sometimes downright ugly. It would be nice to see a clothing company show us what their clothes will truly look like on REAL bodies instead of perpetuating false ideas of beauty, that are ridiculously unattainable, I wonder if it’s even possible? What do you think?

Women on Campus

Photo credit: kevin dooley / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: kevin dooley / Foter / CC BY

In North America, there are more women enrolled in colleges and universities than ever before. But there’s a question that weighs heavy on the minds of many; is a college or university campus a safe place for women?

This month’s cover of Ms. magazine reads that 1 in 5 women students on college campuses will experience sexual assault. 1 in 5, that’s a crazy statistic to contemplate. It doesn’t take much digging to find evidence that these numbers are prevalent and true. 40 students at the University of California at Berkeley have filed two seperate federal complaints against the school for mishandling campus sexual assault cases and a similar action has been filed at Michigan State University. These two stories are from this month alone, within two days of each other, in fact.

Meanwhile here in Canada, a slurry of allegations regarding sexual assault are coming out of the University of Ottawa. First, Anne-Marie Roy, a student union leader, was the target of a disgusting online chat where five of her fellow students discussed how they wanted to engage lewd acts with Roy, including that they wanted to punish her with their Genitalia. Roy has bravely come forward with her copy of the conversation, despite being threatened with legal action. Secondly, the school’s hockey team has been suspended over allegations that members of the Gee-Gees hockey team were involved in the sexual assault of a woman in Thunder Bay while they were on a series of away games.

Most recently, at York University in Toronto, two women, who are fortunately fine, were injured in a shooting in the student centre. This last story hit closest to home for me, since I myself attended York University. York is a school that provided me with an amazing education but, it also had daily bulletins of sexual assault happening on campus, and constant peeping toms hiding in women’s washrooms. I was afraid to walk to my car during the day let alone at night, and I remember vividly taking a wrong turn and ending up on a mid-level roof of the campus library, encountering a group of men who, with only glaring stares, instilled such fear in me that I turned and ran the other direction as fast as I could. I spent a considerable amount of my time on campus in fear and in this day in age, should it be this way?

What do you think? Are college and university campuses a safe place for women? How can it be changed? How do we make these places of higher education a safe haven for their female students and educators?

#DoTheRightThing

1DART final file do the right thing (1)-page-001

The Duffetin/Caledon Domestic Assault Review Team’s social media and sexual violence campaign ad raises awareness of cyber-bullying.

Please share this campaign with other organizations, your co-workers and friends or family.

They hope to raise awareness about sexual violence through social media and by challenging youth to #DoTheRightThing!

For more information about the important collaborative work the DART is engaged in, see: www.dufferincaledondart.com

Strong women

372459311_bb8ca4b9a8

Photo credit: s-a-m / Foter.com / CC BY

November is women abuse prevention month. Rather than focus on statistics or ranting about inequality, or about the responsibility of men in prevention, today’s post is about strength. Lately, all around me I have been noticing the unbounded strength of women.

This week’s horrors in the Philippines brought us the story of Emily Ortega who managed to make her way to the airport and give birth to a baby girl amidst the chaos. Her story makes me think of all of the other mothers struggling to keep their children alive there right now.

I think of the survivors of abuse that are picking up the pieces, and with support (or without) are figuring out a way, every day, to keep providing and caring for their children; trying to make their way on a new path for their future. Single parenting is not for the weak.

Personally, (on a much smaller scale I realize) I have been struggling with some pretty awful morning (and noon and night) sickness for the past 6 weeks of a new pregnancy. In sharing this experience with other women I have learned about how others have coped and been inspired by the quiet strength and determination it takes to just live through the first weeks of pregnancy that most women don’t talk about. A teacher recalled running out of the classroom on a regular basis to be sick and would return home at the end of the day to take care of a toddler; a PhD student recalls having two toddlers in tow and needing to hide behind cars in a grocery store parking lot to be sick; a social worker on her way to home visits having to pull over to the side of the road to be sick and then continues on with her work.

All of these stories remind me of a thoughtful New York times piece written by a transgendered woman entitled: What Makes a Mother? Suffering. 

Many women suffer and most women persevere through personal strength, resilience and the support of those around them, whatever the circumstance.

Share some stories of strong women you know, we need to celebrate strengths as well as focus on change.

Please consider giving to organizations offering aid in the Philippines. The Canadian government is matching the funds raised now. Two great ones:

Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans​ Frontières). To donate, go to www.msf.ca/campaigns/typhoon-haiyan-relief-philippines/.

The United Nations World Food Program Donations at www.wfpusa.org

How are you marking the anniversary of becoming a person?

womensherstory month

Image courtesy of the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union

October is Women’s “HerStory” month, because it’s the month in which Canadian women became “persons” under the law.

Five women: Irene Parlby, Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, Henrietta Muir Edwards and Louise McKinney petitioned the Supreme Court of Canada for an interpretation on whether women were “qualified persons” in section 24 of the British North America Act (1867) for appointment to the Senate. The Supreme Court ruled the term “qualified persons” didn’t include women.

They appealed this decision and on October 18, 1929, the British Privy Council overturned a Canadian Supreme Court decision, ruling that women were “persons” under Canadian law, and therefore eligible to be members of the Senate.

How about marking the anniversary of becoming a legal person by educating yourself and others about some influential Canadian women?

Poking around online, I found an informative and diverse timeline of women in Canadian history from 1820-2011 (with pictures) from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union of Canada. Check it out here.

Another thorough online exhibit of Canadian women’s history can be found at http://www.heroines.ca/