Saturday, May 31, 2008

Karina Pasian—lovin’ the lyrics!

So yeah...I do a lot of bitchin’ here on Reign about girls being conditioned by the media and pop culture to be sexy, flirty playthings and not the smart, strong, powerhouses they're capable of being.

And yeah...I have a bit of an obsession for analyzing ads, music, television shows, toys, clothing trends, the beauty industry, current events and anything else that feeds the beast that gives our girls the limiting impression that their power lies in their “hotness”. It’s what I do, ok?

But sometimes, even I need to sit back and take a look at the bigger picture. Yes, there is a lot of stuff going on that makes me want to yank my hair out in big fuzzy hand fulls; but then there’s also this...

Karina Pasian, 16 @ War. Nice. I'd sure rather see 8-year-olds singing along to this instead of some of the other songs that are gracing the airwaves.

Of course, one enlightened girl-child does not a cultural revolution make, but she's a refreshingly smart step in the right direction.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Healthy Teens Act Update

Special thanks to Alisa for leaving a comment that reminded me that if you live in NY State, you can weigh in on the Healthy Teen Act right from your computer. And today, I recieved an e-mail update from Get the Facts NY on the status of the act...

The Healthy Teens Act is one step closer to becoming law.

Last week, the Healthy Teens Act was favorably reported out of the State Senate Health Committee. Now it must also be voted on in the Senate Finance Committee and we need your help to bring this bill to a full vote by the Senate.

Members of the Senate Finance Committee need to hear from you. They need to know why the Healthy Teens Act would make a difference in your community.

Click here to send a fax to members of the Senate Finance Committee urging them to bring the Healthy Teens Act up for a vote.

It's so easy to make your voice heard. If you haven't done it, click the link and leave your message.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

In a New York State of Mind

Being a native New Yorker who's raising my children here in the Empire state, I'm keeping a close eye on whether the NY Healthy Teens Act passes this year.

The Healthy Teens Act proposal would set up a grant program for school districts and community groups who want to provide "age-appropriate, medically accurate" sexual education. Programs would have to:

*Teach that abstinence is the only sure way to avoid pregnancy and STDs but not ignore sexually-active students.

*Provide the pros and cons of different types of contraception.

*Not teach or promote religion.

*Encourage a dialogue between parents and teens.

*Provide information about the human papillomavirus - HPV - to help prevent cervical cancer and other reproductive health problems.

*Teach how alcohol and drug use can affect responsible decision-making.

Sounds pretty durn good to me! Especially considering that New York has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation, with 40,000 teens becoming pregnant each year.

Although this bill sailed through the State Assembly (four years in a row!) it's been stalled each year in the NY State Senate. Hmmm ... that's 160,000 unplanned pregnancies that could have possibly been prevented, and countless STD's.

So hopefully, this will be the year the for The Healthy Teens Act.

In the meantime, Mamas, while a bill that could empower kids with information sits stagnating in Albany, we have riveting stories like this and of course, this to keep us entertained.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

We're all on the same page, Mamas!

Here's me sending out warm, fuzzy vibes to Harlem, NY and Sister's Uptown Bookstore where I spent the most amazing day yesterday.

I had a signing there for Feel Good, Girl, and wasn't quite sure what to expect. Actually, that's a lie. I thought I knew what to expect. I expected a small group because we didn't really promote the signing that heavily. I expected to do a quick reading, sell a couple copies and be out the door within an hour. What I got instead, absolutely blew my mind.

Yes, it was a small group: a few parents, a few grandparents and their little ones. I did the standard reading, explained why I wrote the book, and then I opened up the floor for questions...that's when the magic happened.

Sister's Uptown Bookstore is probably the coziest, most inviting store I've ever been in. It's got a warm and homey feeling that just makes you want to buy a hot drink, find a nice nook to do some work or read, and spend the entire afternoon. Well those cozy vibes must have gotten to everyone, because when I opened up the floor for questions, our little group (strangers to each other, mind you) came to life!

We talked about our fears as parents raising children in today's world. We talked about what it was like when we were growing up. We compared the changes we've seen happen over the years in our own neighborhoods and in society at large. And we talked about the different ways we struggle to keep our kids grounded. It was amazing!

Everything happens for a reason, and that small chatty group taught me more than a big, impersonal gathering ever could have. I got invaluable insight about Mamas (and Daddies) straight from the source. I learned that:
  • We're all scared.
  • We're all fighting to save our kids' innocence while they're being assaulted with the images and ideals of a society that could give a damn about their well-being.
  • We realize that our kids need to be strong to resist the temptations of this world, and their source of strength needs to be us.
  • Many of us feel like we're in this struggle alone.
How deep is that? What an incredible inspiration for FGG ! I'm looking forward to meeting and hearing from more parents on these issues. I think we're at the beginning of something good!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A helluva good start for Feel Good, Girl!

Well, my first book, Feel Good, Girl! was released two weeks ago and I'm happy to report that it's enjoying an nice debut.

Even prior to its release, Feel Good, Girl! was getting a nice reception among parents, educators and librarians. Now it's paying off. And the best news? The book is currently being considered as a course book for a ground-breaking self-empowerment class that is being implemented at the middle school in my town! Exciting!!!

It's also been mentioned in a couple prominent places here in blogland. Namely on Amy Jussel's Shaping Youth and Anastasia Goodstein's YPulse. Thanks again, ladies!

But nothing prepared me for the latest news from my publisher...Feel Good, Girl has sold out! Who'd a thunk it?

On one hand, this is really great news because it means that people are finding the book to be a real resource for encouraging tween girls to open their minds, expand their horizons, and think beyond the limiting messages presented to them by the media and pop-culture.

On the other hand, it means that we are now waiting for the next run of books to be printed. Mommy B is not a big fan of the waiting.

However, in the meantime we're revamping the Feel Good, Girl! website and doing lots of other little projects to make the next round even better than the first. In a few weeks, well have fresh new books (hot of the presses!) and a fresh new interactive website to go along with it!

As informed Mama's your input is pretty important to me, so as we go along, I'll be looking to you for guidance in making FGG a powerful resource for our girls(and for us as well).

Feel free to leave a comment here on Reign anytime with ideas, input, comments or questions.

All ideas are welcome!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Gettin' smart about teen pregnancy prevention

May 7th was the seventh annual National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, a campaign started by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

Their campaign includes an interactive quiz for teens at

This real-deal quiz puts teens in a series of risky situations and asks them to decide how they would react. I’m going to request that my teen take it (privately of course ... and I promise not to peek).

The quiz is really an ingenious way to get kids thinking about different sexual situations that they could find themselves in. It also presents some serious facts and statistics in an easy-to-digest format that will definitely stay with them. And I always say: informed kids are smart kids! They’re capable of making the right choices when they have the right information.

Teens can take the quiz all during the month of May. Have your teen check it out. And no peeking, Mamas.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

An Ah-Ha Moment!

A recent post on Shaping Youth reminded me of a conversation I had with my daughter a few months back.

As a high-strung Mama who's prone to fits of controlled rage when I see inappropriate crap on television during prime kid-hours -- like Flava Flav slobbing down three scantily clad women at 4 o'clock in the afternoon (shudder * dry heave * shudder) -- my teenage daughter has learned to deal with my ranting in her own way.

Sometimes I'm sure she's listening because she's looking at me like I'm insane. Other times she appears to be listening but may actually be wondering whether there are chips in the kitchen (a la Homer Simpson), and other times she appears to be completely ignoring me, but then pops out with bit of wisdom that stops this old Mama in her ranting tracks. Like this conversation a few months back:

We were watching a commercial for some girl's toy (I can't remember what it was, but does it even matter? They're mostly the same) and I commented: "Did you ever notice how silly most girl toys are?"

HER: "Huh?"

ME: "Girls toys. They're sort of silly."

HER: "Whaddya mean?"

ME: "Well, they're always focused on looks or frivolous things. They're all about putting on make up,shopping, having a party, having a fashion show, getting dressed up, getting married, being a model or doing your hair. Girls like to do other stuff beside sit around and look pretty. Girls like to build things, and they like to run around, and they like to explore and discover new stuff."

HER: (baffled/teenage stare) "Why do you think about this stuff so much? They're just toys."

ME: "Yeah, they're toys. But toys play a big part in shaping how you think when you're little. So if all you play with are pretty dolls, make up, frilly clothes, and princesses, you might think that all that's important is how you look and how others see you."

HER: (in a no-duh sort of tone)"Well, that's what parents are for. It's their job to buy the right kinds of toys so kids don’t think that way."

ME: (blank / open-mouthed stare as I ascended to heaven in my mind, high-fived the Big Guy then floated back down and tried to play it cool.) "Uh…yeah, but what about little girls who don't have parents to tell them that they're more than just pretty, playthings? Maybe the companies who make toys like that should be more responsible, too."

HER: (shrugging shoulders) "But they just want to make money."

ME: (picking jaw up off floor) "Right. And that makes it even worse. They don’t' even care."

HER: (looking contemplative but not saying anything)

So I stopped. She was thinking and that's what I really wanted. But DAMN!!!! She got it! She got that parents hold the keys when it comes to what kids learn and that was SO on-point and such a big deal because I never told her that.

So rest assured, Mamas, it may feel like you're talking to a big pile of rocks when you're trying to get a message across to your utterly modern tween/teen.. but they DO hear you. So don't stop talking.
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