Category Archives: Challenging Society

Holidays: Made with Code

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, how lovely are your coded branches.
Ya see, around the extravagant National Tree there are state trees often covered with ornaments made NationalXMasTreeby students, community groups, etc. However, this year I, you, us got to participate in designing an 8 second pattern on our state’s tree through the great gift of tech, through code, and it’s all thanks to Google’s initiative “Made with Code,” who invited girls from across the country to make this season a little brighter by lighting up a holiday tree and sharing it with friends.

I love this idea, encouraging girls to hone their creativity and put into digital coded form. Why? Because today, less than 1% of girls are majoring in computer science. And currently women are under represented in companies, labs, design, boardrooms and organizations that make technology happen.

I myself couldn’t wait to make my 8 seconds of fame on the Virginia state tree that went live December 8 at 8:02p.m. I went to the site and I was actually surprised as I was expecting to see actual lessons for code complete with line breaks and about a gajillion of these </>, but instead there were just drop downs and drag and drops with selections for colors, movement and design. But for youngsters I guess it makes sense to show that by using the building blocks of pattern, color and movement creates a unique final product, digitally.

From me to you, Happy Holidays and have a joyous New Year!


When a News Anchor Proves Sexism is Still Strong

You know that whole one step forward and three steps backward mentality? Yeah, our culture seems to do this with sexism and that’s just not here in the states, but globally.

By now, you may have heard the experiment an Australian news anchor for “Today” Karl Stefanovic sported the same blue suit for an entire year (a YEAR!) just to see if people would notice, since the comments from viewers have been relentless on his co-anchor, Lisa Wilkinson. The verdict? Not a soul noticed his repetitive ensemble for 365 days.

He comments:

No one has noticed; no one gives a $%*t. But women, they wear the wrong colour and they get pulled up. They say the wrong thing and there’s thousands of tweets written about them. Women are judged much more harshly and keenly for what they do, what they say and what they wear.

I’ve worn the same suit on air for a year –- except for a couple of times because of circumstance –- to make a point. I’m judged on my interviews, my appalling sense of humour – on how I do my job, basically. Whereas women are quite often judged on what they’re wearing or how their hair is … that’s [what I wanted to test].


I admire Stefanovic for conducting such an experiment, it was necessary in bringing, once again, the scrutiny women face daily and how their “legitimacy” of their thoughts and genius are often pushed aside based on how they look.

President of Barnard College and author of “Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection,” Debra Spar told The Huffington Post last year, “We are sadly still living in an era in which women’s looks are just much more subject to constant appraisal than is the case for men, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin and nearly every woman who has run for office wind up having their clothing and their hairstyles receive way more attention than they really should.”

I couldn’t agree more! A lot of this type of evidence is in the documentary, Miss Representation. If you haven’t yet seen it, it’s worth a viewing!

Here’s the clip from the Australian news cast where they reported on the anchor’s experiment.

Any one notice how uncomfortable they are with defining what sexism is?! *cringe*
Help the news anchors out! How would you define sexism? Let me know in the comments!
Me?  I tend to agree with sex education activist, Laci Green, on the topic of sexism. Sexism is the “exclusion and unequal power in society,” it effects both men and women.

5 Smarty Halloween Costumes

I love the creativity that Halloween brings out in me and others, and I always try to DIY my costumes by collecting things from friends and family, Goodwill, my own wardrobe with an assist from the craft store!

Unfortunately, Halloween has notoriously been known as the holiday where you can “dress like a slut and get away with it,” —that is, according to the movie Mean Girls.
So instead of going sexy, I vote going smarty this Halloween. Here are my top 5 Halloween costume ideas for 2014! What are you going to be? Leave your ideas in the comments!

1. Carmen SandiegoCarmenSandiego

Relive the 90s! The education game show series began airing on PBS in 1991 that had viewers and contestants becoming detectives to solve various mysteries and geography challenges leading up to the chance to capture Carmen and receive a trip! Also, who could forget that iconic theme song?

What you’ll need:

  • Red trench-styled coat
  • Red fedora hat
  • Yellow scarf
  • Black shirt and pants
  • Black boots

Additional Accessories: inflatable globe, a map, or binoculars
Couplet? Have your mate go as Where’s Waldo, you both can we “lost” in love, HA!

AmeliaEarhart2. Amelia Earhart

Take your costume to new heights by dressing up as this pioneer pilot.

What you’ll need:

  • Brown bomber or aviator jacket
  • Khaki pants or slacks with a trim-cut leg
  • Brown riding boots or combat boots
  • White scarf, bonus points for adding a hanger via tape or a trusty needle and thread to the inside and making it look like its “blowing in the wind.”
  • Goggles, ski goggles may do the trick if you have those laying in your coat closet
  • A helmet or a floppy-eared hat, if hats aren’t your thing, the goggles may be enough to get the idea across.
    If you don’t feel DIYing this one, there’s an accessory kit!

Additional Accessories: You could potentially get a model airplane and carry with you, bonus points if you find a backpack like this one!
Couplet? Have your mate go as an airplane! Weee!

RosieRiveter3. Rosie the Riveter

A cultural icon with an empowering message, “We Can Do It!” And you can do with this easy-to-put-together costume.

What you’ll need:

  • Red with white polka dotted scarf or fabric, enough to go around your head and tie in the front
  • Jeans, bonus points if they’re high-waisted—how retro!
  • Blue button up shirt with the sleeves rolled up, be sure to tuck in the shirt or tie it in a knot at the waist.
  • Red lipstick
  • Hair up!
  • Black combat boots
  • A flexed bicep for the iconic pose.

Additional Accessories: Create a yellow “backdrop” with the “We Can Do It” speech bubble on cardboard, attach elastic loops, wear as a backpack.  This may be a bit difficult for a night on the town, but may work well at a house party…with large doorways.
Couplet? Have your mate go as a member of the Army, both are appropriate for the WWII timeframe.

LadyLiberty4. Lady Liberty

Because Amurica and Freedom and because in several states this November it’s election season!

What you’ll need:

  • A blue-green bed sheet or a white one dyed a blue-green
  • Rope or chording from the craft store painted/dyed the same color as sheet
  • Burger King crown, halfed and painted to match
  • Flip flops or gold sandals, feel free to spray paint these as well to match
  • This amazing clutch that looks like a book from Asos! 
  • Torch: flash light, add matching colored foam around the base and up and attach orange and yellow tissue paper to the lens of the flashlight and WHA-LA! or you could just buy one here. 

Additional Accessories: Purchase silver or blue-green body paint for your face and arms (though a long sleeve shirt may be easier and more comfortable when dyed to match) Also if face paint irritates your skin, like it does mine, opt for silver eye shadow and lip stick to finish the look.
Couplet? Have your mate go as Uncle Sam.

RubiksCube5. Rubiks Cube

Who doesn’t love a creative costume brainteaser?

What you’ll need:

  • Three boxes from UPS or FedEx that are wide enough to fit around your torso
  • Different colored construction paper or paint (don’t forget the brushes!) to create the different colored blocks
  • Black duct tape to tape it all down or define the blocks of color
  • Sharp Scissors or a X-acto to cut round holes in the boxes, big enough for your body
  • To wear under: anything! I recommend a black tank top or long sleeve shirt and leggings or shorts.

Additional Accessories: Wear color sneakers to complete the look, Converses work great! Oh! and bonus points if you make the rubiks cube solvable!
Couplet? Have your mate go as a nerd that is trying to solve you!

From Click here to visit her blog and get more step by step instructions!

A version of the finished product from Click here to visit her blog and get more step by step instructions!

Now, I want to hear from you! What smarty costumes have you come up with in the past? What are you going to be this year?



Face Strip Down

Celebrities of the musical variety are using their powers for good! They’re using their talents to stand up and go public about their distaste with how the media is portraying false beauty standards, as reality. And I love it. First, Lorde took to her Twitter page by showing a side-by-side photo comparison of her in concert. Now, Colbie Caillet, the beach vibe singer is making her voice heard and her face seen through her new music video “Try.” In the video, Caillet along with several women of all ages, shapes and colors strip down. No, not stripped down like they’re starring in a rap music video. They’re stripping down their faces. One woman after another wipes off her make-up and lets down her hair in exchange for basking in her “au natural” glory! I adore this concept, and in fact it inspired me to go make-up-free all weekend. Even when I attempted to cheat and dabbed on some mascara, the wand stabbed me in the eye. Karma. Make-up is the real life Photoshop, it makes flaws disappear with the sweep of a brush or a dab of a sponge. But who said they were flaws to begin with? It’s safe to say that the media played a large role in pointing out others flaws, which then make us think, from viewing the media, “well if I look like that, then am I flawed?” We start to question, we start to hide behind who we really are in exchange for what society wants us to be.  And before we realize we’re looking in the mirror not knowing who’s staring back at us. Caillet’s lyrics give beauty ideals the one-two punch. HIIIYAAH! Her lyrics zoom way in to the thought that, you know, being you is enough. She sings:

Take your make-up off Let your hair down Take a breath Look into the mirror, at yourself Don’t you like you? Cause I like you

A message that Bruno Mars can stand behind: “girl, you’re amazing just the way you are.” You just have to believe it, for everyone else to do the same.

Have you ever gone make up free? Would you? If you have, was your experience difficult or invigorating!?

Hey Internet, here's me sans make-up. It's freeing and really quite scary. GAH!

Hey Internet, here’s me sans make-up. It’s freeing and really quite scary. GAH!

update: My friend and fellow blogger Jess brought my attention to John Legend’s new song You & I (Nobody in the World) that was just released this month and it sends a similar message to Caillet’s—”you don’t have to try” because being your true self, without all the glitz and glam, is the best part about you. This video speaks 1000+ words!

This Ain’t No Mad Men Party: Show Women The Money!

showwomenmoneyMad Men, an AMC television show that throws you back to an era of chain smoking, business dealing, and treating women in the workplace, and in general, like they’re less.

Today is Equal Pay day, a day when a woman finally catches up to what a man doing the same job made in 2013. #Truthbombs, ya’ll. This is not a day to be celebrated, but to instead bring awareness to the stereotypes that clench our culture and continuing to infiltrate in our economy. Even when women work full-time, year-round, they still only make 77 percent (on average) of what men in their field make. Over the course of their working lives, women make between $400,000 and $2 million less than they would if they were paid fairly. I’m pretty sure this is a form of robbery.

It’s also a known fact that women have outnumbered men in attending and graduating from higher education institutions. I can verify this since James Madison University was 60 percent female and 40 percent male when I attended, which made the dating scene um…interesting.

Anywho! With that factoid tucked in our belt of knowledge it’s practical to draw the conclusion that more women in the work force have more education and/or equal education as their male colleagues. So if this ain’t no Mad Men party, why don’t we all make the same pay for the same work? Seems logical, given the evidence.

A lot of this discrimination stems from pay-secrecy policies issued by employers that punish employees if they utter a peep about salary. Ridiculous? Absolutely. But right now there is no federal law that broadly prohibits employers from penalizing and even firing employees just for talking about their salaries. At my full-time gig I don’t think there’s a policy in regards to pay, however, culturally it’s simply “not done.” People, in general, are hush hush about money in real dollars and cents, however, many have no problem flaunting their new designer handbag or new revved up ride that just rolled of the showroom floor in all its shiny glory.

I’m not sure if you’re aware of Lilly Ledbetter, she’s a women’s equality activist and back in her years working with Goodyear she was a victim of this discrimination. She worked for Goodyear from 1979-1998 and on her first day she was told to never discuss her pay, and it wasn’t until 10 years after she started working when an anonymous source dropped a letter in her locker that she realized she was being paid 40 percent less than her male colleagues in the same job title. This resulted in a Supreme Court Case (Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.) in the late 2007.

Today many women’s, labor, community groups are pushing a new bill in the Senate called the Paycheck Fairness Act, which will help close the wage gap between women and men working identical jobs and stiffen the penalties for corporations who continue to discriminate. The Paycheck Fairness Act will also be a much-needed update to the 50-year-old Equal Pay Act that was signed during the Kennedy administration.

Please take action and tell your Senator to SHOW ME WOMEN THE MONEY!

Dear Barbie, Meet Lammily

Dear Barbie, Meet Lammily
We’re all familiar with the unrealistic Barbie biology and the pressures she subconsciously has on young girls growing up.

Hey there, Lammily! image credit: Nicoklay Lamm

Hey there, Lammily! image credit: Nicoklay Lamm

Nickolay Lamm, a full-time artist and researcher sat down a few months ago and designed a “normal” Barbie that reflected the proportions of a 19 year-old girl based on the CDC reported standards. His goal: to show that average is beautiful and to revolutionize how girls think about their body through a new fashion doll named, Lammily. Watch out Barbie there’s a new girl in town and she can bend her knees, elbows, wrists, ankles and isn’t constantly walking on her tippy toes.

After countless requests from parents and girls alike to make this average doll from an illustrator on paper to a physical doll for purchase, Lamm started his kickstarter campaign and as of March 5 has almost $20,000 raised!
Seeing that Barbie was featured as a Sports Illustrated model this year, (seriously) it’s clear Mattel has no interest in changing Babs measurements to be more realistic. However with the demand for change, there has never been more of an opportune time for toys to challenge societal standards. GoldieBlox challenged the pink aisle and restrictive gender stereotypes and so will Lammily.

I already donated $75 and I am looking forward to giving away one first edition Lammily doll right here on the blog! So stay tuned for that nugget of awesome!

I really believe by changing toys, freeing magazine covers of photoshopped images, and casting more female protagonists in television shows and movies we are changing the way girls think and view themselves and others.
Please donate to the Lammily project here:


What are your thoughts on making this average doll a reality for girls everywhere?! 

Where Are You Most Beautiful?

What if I asked you, “where are you most beautiful?” What would be your response?

For father and Clinical psychologist, Dr. Kelly Flanagan he wants his “Little One” to always know where her beauty exists: on the inside.

bonus points if you notice what's similar about these covers.

bonus points if you notice what’s similar about these covers.

Dr. Flanagan wrote a letter to his 4-year-old little girl on his blog about the oppressive language that’s seen up and down the make-up aisle of retail stores (and on the covers of magazines.) These words having staying power, power that grabs you by the throat and shakes you while saying (subconsciously) you’re not beautiful if you’re not “ageless,” “zit-free,” or “flawless.” (also see: clean.clear.and under control.)

He points out that after having a daughter he started to realize she’s just as strong and a force in this world to be reckoned with. She has the same gifts, potential and passions as any man. High-five, Daddio! Observing the words listed in the packaging of the make-up aisle many people, including her, won’t view her as someone that is fully capable of greatness, instead she will be thought of as a play thing or just a pretty face to gawk at. Society, you’re rude.

In his letter, father Flanagan (nope, not a priest, but it does have a nice ring to it) didn’t change the words marketers use, but instead gave them a new meaning, a better meaning. He redefined the make-up aisle.

Here are my favorite redefines:

Brilliant strength. May your strength be not in your fingernails but in your heart. May you discern in your center who you are, and then may you fearfully but tenaciously live it out in the world.

Infallible. May you be constantly, infallibly aware that infallibility doesn’t exist. It’s an illusion created by people interested in your wallet. If you choose to seek perfection, may it be in an infallible grace—for yourself, and for everyone around you.

Choose your dream. But not from a department store shelf. Find the still-quiet place within you. A real dream has been planted there. Discover what you want to do in the world. And when you have chosen, may you faithfully pursue it, with integrity and with hope.

He ends the letter with reminding his “Little One” that when she gets older and perhaps may want to wear make up, she should never forget where she is most beautiful: on the inside.

This letter truly touched me and I think more fathers, mothers, and overall people should take the time to dissect the beauty veil and how it impacts young girls/women psyches. I have found so much inspiration from Dr. Flanagan that next week I will be writing a letter to my own (unborn) daughter and posting it here.
In the meantime, I’m curious what life lessons you would include in your own letter to your child? Leave these nuggets ‘o wisdom in the comments! 



Reinventing the Princess

A few weeks ago I heard about a new movement to reinvent the ‘Princess’ that we’ve become accustomed to little girls in our lives idolizing or dressing up as to collect treats during Halloween. You know the princesses I’m talking about, starts with “Diz” ends in “knee.” (say it out loud, friends).

Guardian Princess Alliance (GPA) has created a story book series that is on a quest to smash the Disney stereotypes into smithereens by characterizing new and culturally diverse princesses with a multitude of talents, knowledge, and special powers while incorporating different traditions native to countries around the world.

With the book series, GPA aims to transform the cultural meaning of princess into a positive role model who takes actions to help protect living beings and preserve the planet for future generations while moving the focus of the stories of each princess away from external beauty.

Though I have not read a story quite yet, (I hope to get a copy soon!) I have faith in this cause because it’s an equal mixture of education & interest (and uber talented illustrators!)

The books aim to teach girls that it’s not just about how a princess looks that makes her successful and a leader. Instead, this stereotype gets flipped on its noggin’ and allows these princesses to take ownership and leadership roles in their communities by being a guardian of “the land”, “the sea”, “animals”, “healing forests,” etc. all the while looking different (for once). Having the princesses represent different cultures is probably my favorite part of this story series because it gives the characters depth and creates an atmosphere that no matter what culture/country a girl comes from she too can be a leader, a princess.

  • Princess = hot topic

Now, originally I wasn’t a fan of using “princess” at all to describe this new movement, but you have to think of marketing and what’s not only going to get the parent’s attention but also the girls to read up! So, I get it.

  • Environment = sizzling topic

With the ozone layer depleting, talks of global warming, animals going extinct and forestry being something of the past, a huge concern for parents (I haven’t checked with little girls) is ‘will there be something for my child or grandchild etc. to enjoy?’

  • Girl Power = balmy topic

This is a movement, creating these spaces whether its through literary works, campaigns, blogs like these, and organizations the topic of preparing girls to become the young and confident women of the future is ongoing and ever present in the mainstream media.

Now, here’s my ask! You know there’s always is one! (or 5) I encourage you to donate to the Indiegogo campaign (, which is set to close Nov 1!
No doll hairs ($$) to spare? It’s cool, leave a comment below answering the question, “If you could be a guardian princess of anything ever, what would it be?” If you leave a comment I may have a surprise for you! Anddddd I know people heart surprises! (it’s good, reallllly good, promise!)

Habit Inheritance is Accidental

I have always said I was bold, independent and spoke my mind on issues that make you squirm in your chair in discomfort, but college student Lily Myers really does exhibit what SGS is all about—she doesn’t just smash girl stereotypes into smithereens she slams them, poetry style.

In her piece she tackles body image and the destruction a negative image can do to the psyche and plays the lead role in what space, as women, we “deserve to occupy.” Men are taught to grow out (body, voice, demeanor) and women are too often taught to grow in (body, voice, demeanor.)

I like charts and I like visuals…

So here’s a comparison table for those visual learners out there.


What adjectives would you add to the above chart? (Let me know in the comments)

These stereotypes persist because we let them. Simple as that, right? Welllll sorrtaaa kinnndaaa. We should be able to red light them, BUT we often don’t even realize we’re stereotyping! We can’t allow these stereotypes to continue to weasel their way into our culture through modeled habits that slowly and often unconsciously leach into our own.

“Sit across the table from someone long enough and you pick up their habits.”-Lily Myers

We have to instead be mindful. Lily’s piece confronts today’s culture and the different sets of standards for men and women (see handy dandy chart above) and how we as friends, mothers, aunts, sisters really do play a vital role in the development of young girls around us! (Same goes for the guy side.) We have to be mindful of the treatment we are giving ourselves in the presence of others. If we are indeed more conscious the toxic body hate culture cycle will diminish and be nothing more than a fleck of light in culture. It matters because the little ones, they’re watching (link to dancers).


Question: What habits have you picked up from others around you? Good, Bad, Funny, Ugly. We love ‘em all around these shattery glass parts. Leave a comment below!


Teachable Moments Through a Lens


by Jaime Moore, Jaime Moore Photography

Tis the season for all things dress up! As the air crisps, mums bloom and pumpkin flavored everything takes over, (reason numero uno I love fall) thinking about “what am I going to be for halloween” haunts the creative crevices in my brain as well as many young girls.

Will they go with the Mean Girls approach?
“Halloween is the one day a year you can dress like a total slut and no one can say anything.”

The Disney Princess approach?
You know the tutus, tiaras, wands, glitter and twirling all of the twirling (OK before everyone gives me a onetwopunch I love all of those princessy things, exhibitA) But I think Halloween is a time to use your creativity and brain power to come up with an original idea, a homemade creation, something totally silly or having to do with pop culture. Sorry Sally, princesses were so 2008. But just to prove I’m not living under a rock, though it was pretty comfortable there before Facebook, I totes know princesses of the Disney variety will be forever and ever (amen) be a “thing” until the next cultural fad comes into focus blurs all the other lines (link).

So in the spirit of Halloween I want to give a standing ovation to Jaime Moore, a photographer and mother of a 5-year-old young lady, for thinking out side the Mean Girls and Disney Princess mold!

When searching for creative inspiration to take photos of her daughter she stepped away from the fantasy driven princess mantra and centered on real women, history (herstory? hehe…I mean herher?) changing women.

What she did was spot on and not to mention inspirational like whoa.  She dressed her daughter as five women in history—Helen Keller, Amelia Earhart, Susan B. Anthony, Coco Chanel and Jane Goodall—and before the shutter snapped she educated her daughter on each woman’s great achievements. What up teachable moments!

Moore said in Ellen Degeneres’ The Good News column that it was important to educate young girls that there are other role models besides princesses.

“I realized there’s nothing else out there right now when you look at toddlers or young girls’ ideas for costumes or anything. Disney princesses are everywhere,” she says. “I think it would be nice to broaden the horizon a bit… there are real women and real role models for them to look up to.”

Who is your favorite history-making female? Let me know in the comments, pumpkin.