Fierce Women Dish

an artist, a journalist, an activist, a psychologist, a student, and a diva place a cup of nourishment on the table.

Healthy Weight Week January 14, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — fiercewomen @ 6:33 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Healthy Weight Week, Jan. 18-24, is a time to focus on healthy diet-free living habits that last a lifetime and help prevent eating and weight problems. Two sets of awards highlight the event as given in the following News Release. More details on our website (click Healthy Weight Week).

PSA News Release 1/18/08 WOMEN’S HEALTHY WEIGHT AWARDS ANNOUNCED BODY IMAGE CONCERNS ADDRESSED BY 2009 WINNERS This is the year people are getting serious about healthy body image, about preventing eating disorders and normalizing their lives. They can find help by celebrating Healthy Weight Week, Jan. 18 to 24, and by tuning in to the messages of this year’s winners of the Women’s Healthy Weight awards. “We really feel good about the winners this year. They are passionate about body acceptance; no mixed messages here,” said Francie M. Berg, a licensed nutritionist and adjunct professor at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine, in announcing the awards today. Her organization Healthy Weight Network started Healthy Weight Week 16 years ago. The Women’s Healthy Weight awards honor organizations that support size diversity and positive body image. Both 2009 winners have initiated comprehensive programs to prevent eating disorders and combat the destructive effects of thin female ideals. “The hysteria over weight is beginning to die down,” Berg said. “More people are seeing the value of acceptance and respect. They have experienced the harmful effects of idealizing thin models and harassing large children and adults.” The 2009 award winners are: – BEST PROGRAM: Reflections Body Image Program. Endorsed by the Academy of Eating Disorders, Reflections was co-developed by the Delta Delta Delta Fraternity, Carolyn Becker, PhD, FAED, and the local sororities of Trinity University in San Antonio, It is a research-based program that combats the ultra thin media model of female beauty prevalent in today’s society. As part of its national launching, Tri Delta shared a key message with women across the nation by creating Fat Talk Free Week and a viral video email aimed at raising consciousness about Fat Talk and body dissatisfaction among women. Reflections consists of peer-led small group sessions run on campuses, trains student leaders and professionals, and fosters research. It has significantly improved body image perceptions and decreased eating disorder risk factors on campuses (e.g., 48% of women at one college who said they “felt fat almost every day” reported 8 months later they felt that way never or less than half the time). ( and )

– BEST WEBSITE: Love your Body ( ). The National Organization for Women Foundation gives girls and women tools and encouragement on this site to “just say no” to destructive media images, and helps raise awareness about women’s health, body image and self-esteem. The important thing is “to be healthy and love yourself regardless of what the scale says.” The site features suggestions for campus activities on how to treat your body with respect, mentoring, articles, a poster contest, positive and negative ads, and activism options on dealing with advertising, clothing stores and the media.

This year NOW will collaborate with the Reflections program to sponsor Fat Talk Free Week in October, during which NOW promotes its own Love your Body day. “Sex, Stereotypes and Beauty,” a PowerPoint showing the destructive effect of offensive ads, is available at ( ) So what is fat talk? “Fat Talk includes both negative (‘I’m too fat to wear this outfit’) and seemingly positive statements (‘You look great – have you lost weight?’),” explains Dr. Becker. “Fat talk harms women and girls on a daily basis. It insidiously reinforces the unattainable thin-ideal standard of female beauty that contributes to eating disorders and body dissatisfaction,” she said. “A key Reflections message is: Friends don’t let friends fat talk.”


The second set of Healthy Weight Week awards – the Slim Chance Awards for the worst weight loss products of the year – is presented on Rid the World of Fad Diets and Gimmicks Day, Jan. 20. They are: Kevin Trudeau infomercials, Most Outrageous; Skineez jeans, Worst Gimmick; AbGONE, Worst Claim; and Kimkins diet, Worst Product. (For more information see ) Healthy Weight Week promotes healthy diet-free living habits that last a lifetime and help prevent eating and weight problems, said Berg. “Our bodies cannot be shaped at will. But we can all be accepting, healthy and happy at our natural weights.” Handouts on healthy living at any size are available at (click handouts).


For more information see (click HEALTHY WEIGHT WEEK) CONTACT: Francie M. Berg 701-567-2646 Healthy Weight Network 402 South 14th Street Hettinger, ND 58639 MEDIA: To arrange an interview with Francie Berg call 701-567-2646 or email (please begin subject line with: Berg interview.



Filed under: Uncategorized — fiercewomen @ 10:18 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

from donna

Ah, January….my least favorite time of year.

Why do I despise January? Well, it is a little quieter than the holidays, which actually I don’t mind so much. But it’s generally cold and dark—ick, not very much time outside, and it’s a big social letdown from all the fun events that December generally brings. But what really gripes me, is that in January-every January, without fail, my entire life, it seems as if all of a sudden the whole wide world has gotten together and decided to take full responsibility for everyone else’s health and well being, (whew…finally!) but because, evidently we are sloth, we now must be guilted and cajoled into action.  All around us, magazines, news organizations and media outlets are screaming at us that January is the time to Repent! from all of your misdeeds of holiday over indulgences-and the past year in general- and to resolve to shape up, once and for all! And we need to hurry! And get to the gym! Or on the program! And take off those ‘5 holiday pounds’! Because before you know it, you’ll wake up, and it will be 50lbs! And to top it all off, all of these weight/diet/exercise pronouncements seem to have exclamation points attached to them! As if they are exclusive orders sent down from the almighty diet god! Or a blinking red alert from Fox News! (Take your pick…)
Don’t get me wrong, I truly understand the urge to take stock of life in general at the beginning of a new year; it is, after all a very well defined beginning. And, I see nothing wrong ancd actually advocate the well- intentioned and thought-out personal decision at any time of the year to strive to become healthier-physically, emotionally, spiritually or otherwise. What I take such grand offense to is the fear mongering that seems to come along with the Big January Scare and the very bossy pushiness of it all. It’s as if it’s become completely cultural at this point; we as women are all just normally expected to be on the BIG JANUARY DIET. (DO men feel this pressure? I’d be interested to know.) And this, I am sure is why so many people fail at this popular resolution, year after year after year… And it just makes me want scream ‘YOU ARE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!’ to all the offending parties and then eat a big piece of chocolate cake right out there on a lazy lawn chair in front of my gym, despite them all.(!!!)
Why should January always be the designated beat up on yourself month?! Here’s what I suggest. Resolve, if you really must resolve something, to take January in stride. Take a deep breath or maybe a yoga class and above all DO NOT PANIC. If you DO intend to act, act in the pursuit of health for godssakes, NOT in the name of January or resolution time, etc, etc. Vow, if you will, to UN-OBSESS about The January Scare. Don’t entertain discussions of new January diets or exercise programs with friends; this only proliferates this overexposed issue and really isn’t very helpful for the Girl Power Sisterhood Support System that we are all working so diligently to create. And here’s something else to chew on : what all those ‘average weight gained around the holidays’ articles don’t tell you, is that in January most people get on off that November–to-December social party train and go back to life as normal, and any residual gain generally rights itself within a month or two. So there.
And one last thing, to Oprah, because I know she’s a huge fan of Fierce Women Dish: It’s okay! You’re okay! You are human, even though many times you are forced up there on the superhuman pedestal by those of us that put up there. You are going to be healthy and all right; this I know for sure. And, I don’t feel quite so bad, because I do know that you, personally, did NOT fall prey to the Big January Scare, even though your magazine certainly did. To meet your deadlines for January, I am sure you were working on everything back sometime in October or November….waaaaaay before the big scare, and that makes me oh-so-happy.


How and when do we begin to talk to our children about sex? September 29, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — fiercewomen @ 1:56 pm
Tags: , , ,

Rosie:  Sex education is one of the most important empowerment tools we can give our children.  When I was writing Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image, and Growing Up Latina, I was stunned to learn how little sex education happens within the family.  Of the women that I interviewed, only 6% had parents who talked to them about sex in any way that constituted an attempt at sex education.  One study showed that when Latina mothers discussed sexuality and their personal beliefs and values regarding sexuality with their mid-adolescent teens, their children were more likely, a year later, to report abstaining from or delaying initiation of sex.  A bonus?  They also reported having better relationships with their mothers.   We all know that this fact would be true for a mother of any ethnicity. 

Amy: I do not have children of my own. . . I think that it is time to talk with children about sex when they are exposed to things with sexual content that they may not understand.  This might be a Disney movie or it might be neighborhood kids or seeing pornography.  I think the most important thing is to start the discussion as soon as something happens to make the act of talking comfortable…if you talk about the “little” things it will set the stage to talk about more difficult things later. 

Donna: Wow… this one is tough and I have nieces and nephews but no kids of my own so I am not really faced with this on a day in/day out basis. But I have worked closely with work with several girls organizations over the past five years so I DO know that younger and younger, sex is a topic. So the ‘when’ to me, would be to address the issue when the child starts asking about it—I think this would vary from child to child.

Crystal:  As soon as responsibly possible. I don’t have children but I believe education and open communication is the key. I try to actively listen to the young people who are in my life. If they need information or guidance, I do what I offer what I can, with their parents’ permission, of course.

Rosie: Ultimately, we put our children, perhaps especially our daughters, in vulnerable positions if we do not empower them with sex education.  Uneducated, they can be swayed by someone else’s reasoning—someone who may not have accurate information or who may not have their best interest in mind.  Studies and statistics showing what happens when a child is not educated about sex are heartbreaking and shameful.  Shameful because we so often preach the importance of education in changing a life and then deny them this important information that one pregnancy or one experience with an HIV+ partner has the power to negate any other “book” learning they have received.  We marginalize young people when we deny them information, making them more vulnerable to the pleas of adolescent partners who pretend to know more about sex and its implications than they really do. Tell our children nothing about their bodies, and they become more susceptible to the whims of others, a tendency that’s difficult to escape once it’s an ingrained behavior. 

Amy: My parents didn’t talk to me at all.  They gave me a set of books to read.  I felt shameful while reading them, like it was something dirty or not ok to actually talk about.  To this day I have never talked to my mother about sex in any meaningful or enjoyable way.  I am sure this reflects her discomfort with her own sexuality and the books she provided me were miles ahead of her own sexual education.  So hats off to my parents for providing the information but we can do better.  Now, I regularly talk with my clients about sex and hope that if I am ever blessed with children I will be able to talk with them too.

Jenee: I honestly don’t remember my parents ever talking to me about sex.  I also don’t remember ever wanting them too, but I also had an older sister I went to with all my questions.  I don’t feel like this was the best route though. I think it’s important to start off slow but to give them the necessary information before they find themselves in sexual situations. The reality is that young girls have a maturing body and it feels good to kiss…let them know its ok to kiss but you need a different maturity level and emotional level for sex.

Donna: As far as the ‘how’, honesty is going to be the best thing to go with here, and the talk should be straightforward and non- clinical, like what you get in biology class. Wait a second… do kids even get this talk in biology anymore? The immediate reaction of the parent or the adult is also important—if you act evasive, nervous or embarrassed, obviously the child will pick up on it and it will shape their long term views and thoughts about sex and sexuality.

Jenee: I think its very important for children to know the correct terms for their body.  Whowho is not an important term for your vagina and even worse if some kind of abuse happened and they told a teacher or another adult about their “whowho” they wouldn’t understand the travesty of the situation.

Rosie: So what can you do?  First and foremost, talk to your children about sex.  From day one, use the appropriate terms for body parts.  Don’t be bashful about what our bodies do.  Then, as your children age, begin to have age appropriate conversations.  Do your homework, research books that can help you think through it, surf on-line for parent resources, many will tell you at what age kids should know different things.  Then, go there.      

Jenee: Once in a Women’s Studies class we discussed this issue.  The idea was thrown out that starting in middle school you give your daughter a journal with questions.  Questions like “How is your first kiss going to be” or “What type of qualities do you want the boy to have to whom you lose your virginity too” and “How do you want to lose your virginity.”  I know these may seem like pretty heavy questions for a 12 year old but the point is to get them thinking about it so when they wind up at a party when they are 15 or 16 they think “Wait…this isn’t how I wanted it, this isn’t how I planned it.” I think that my main viewpoint is too much information can never hurt anyone but that values and morals need to come along with respecting your needs, your body, and your self.

Donna: Sex issues, especially for women, are VERY directly related to body image issues so it makes it that much more important to be honest and open and to speak to that point. Teaching the children around us to have respect for themselves is a huge part of this too.

It’s a tough topic, that’s for sure.


Why Are We So Critical? April 5, 2008

It seems that women hold each other to really high standards and then spend a great deal of time enjoying someone’s inability to reach those standards. Why are we so critical of each other? What can we do about it?


Crystal:  Ouch. This is so true. I like to think it’s not, but it is. Whether it’s a woman who got a job instead of you. Or Britney Spears.


Donna:  Why DO we do this?!!!   I think it must have something to do with competitiveness based on looks when growing up as little girls. Plus, my mom always used to say that three little girls can’t play together because two will always side against one.


Janine:  You’ve heard the expression “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” Well, how about ‘Hell hath no fury like a jealous, insecure woman’?


Rosie:  I realized this happened in seventh grade, and that what it elicited in me was a deep sickness.  Now, when I look back, I realize that so many young women are expected to be effortlessly perfect.  The bag of goods we are being sold is that we should be pretty and smart and fit and caring and creative without anyone seeing us sweat.  We need to make it look like this is just how we are when we get out of the bed in the morning—perfect without even trying.  And that’s the standard we expect of each other.   


D:  Could this just be the adult version of the playground—maybe some sicko way to bond with each other in the same sicko way we love to bond with each other over our own body image issues? (“Oh, geez, I hate my thighs.” “Your thighs? You should see my ass?!”)


Amy:  As women, we hold ourselves to very high standards.  It can be a way that we both define ourselves and have a sense of control in our lives.  Given this, if we as women enjoy other’s inability to reach these standards it is because it allows us to take some pressure off of ourselves.  We are particularly critical of women in the media and in public positions.  This criticalness may relate to a feeling of “why her”, “how did she achieve that”.  We as women, strive to do it all and be all things.  Invariably, we must make choices and prioritize.  If we enjoy someone else’s failure it may be because that means that we have not made a mistake in our choices because that woman is not able to pull off the lofty goals that we have not chosen ourselves. 


R:  It is as if the feminist movement gave us permission to not just be any one thing we ever wanted, but, rather, created an expectation that we should be everything anyone could ever want from us.  So this is the standard, we use to measure ourselves and other women.  But it is impossible, really, to be everything and, though, we cognitively know this, we have to remind ourselves of it by issuing a judgment on other women.


J:  It’s sad to say, but as women we can’t help but compare ourselves to other women. We size each other up and down the minute one of us walks into a room. Why? Good ol’ fashioned ‘insecurity.’ For a lot us, we haven’t been told enough how great we are!!! Either mom was too busy or dad (in my case) wasn’t there at all. Regardless, we just didn’t hear enough of “You’re beautiful”, “You’re needed”, “You’re important.” It seems even women who did hear all those things, unfortunately still require a small dose of “You’re It!” So when we compare each other, and secretly wish each other failure, I believe we are really just angry with ourselves because we see in those women what we’d like to be, but didn’t have the push to become that person.


C:  We’re critical of each other because of our own insecurities. Rather than examining and addressing why we got passed over, we often blame someone else or office politics. Also, I think we sometimes revel in the pain of others – especially those we perceive to have everything that we don’t. To end it, we need to check ourselves. Ask yourself: What language am I using? Am I reveling in someone else’s downfall or pain? Am I supporting my sisters? Am I nurturing the girls in my life with positive language and actions? This sounds easy, but it’s not. It’s a constant effort.


R:  It’s a choice, really, to behave differently.  And it’s a choice we must chose everyday, making ourselves less judgmental—of ourselves and others—so that we can all just be who we set out to be, and, thus, end up living our best lives. 


A:  This criticalness of others in my mind, inherently is a mirror of our self-criticalness.  When we are able to truly accept ourselves with all of our flaws and wonderfulness we will then be able to do the same for other women.


D:  Tearing someone else down is a cheap shot that momentarily makes YOU feel better about your own situation. It’s also interesting to me that many times the thing that’s focused on is something about appearance. I think this happens because as women, we know that physicality is where you can most easily land the knock-out punch. I think it’s a learned thing, and we can unlearn it just as well, and must just agree not to do it out loud, or otherwise, for the betterment of our gender. If for no better reason that we don’t want to pass our own bad behavior down to others—especially the younger women we influence.    


J:  The next time I’m sizing up another woman, instead of pulling out what she doesn’t have, I think I’ll just tell her what I really see and that is “You’re pretty fabulous!” Maybe that’ll put me one step closer to becoming the ‘me’ I’m supposed to be.


Join the table.  Why do you think we do this and what can we do about it?