Tell Me I’m Fat

Attached is a link to a series of interviews entitled, “Tell Me I’m Fat”, from the radio show, “This American Life”, hosted by Ira Glass.  The show contains an interview with a woman who experienced very different social interactions after losing weight.  A second woman, again after losing a significant amount of weight, describes a change in her sense of who she is or was.  A third woman describes different stages in being overweight.  The interviews are thought provoking.  As I listened, I thought it would be ideal for someone who is fat-phobic.  It made me reconsider my (automatic) assumptions about people who are overweight.  Worth a listen!!

Giving up alcohol opened my eyes to the infuriating truth about why women drink

Compelling article, take a look….

Hello from the other side. (Reuters/Lee Celano)



Kristi Coulter

August 21, 2016

I’m newly sober and dog-paddling through the booze all around me. It’s summer, and Whole Foods has planted rosé throughout the store. Rosé is great with fish! And strawberries! And vegan protein powder! (Okay, I made that last one up.) At the office, every desk near mine has a bottle of wine or liquor on it in case people are too lazy to walk the 50 feet to one of the well-stocked communal bars we’ve built on our floor. Driving home from work, I pass billboard ads for Fluffed Marshmallow Smirnoff and Iced Cake Smirnoff and not just Cinnamon, but Cinnamon Churros Smirnoff. A local pharmacy, the same one that f***s up my prescription three months in a row, installs self-service beer taps and young men line up with their empty growlers all the way back to Eye & Ear Care.

Traveling for work, I steel myself for the company-sponsored wine tasting. Skipping it is not an option. My plan is to work the room with my soda and lime, make sure I’m seen by the five people who care about these things, and leave before things get sloppy (which they always do). Six wines and four beers are on display at the catering stand. I ask for club soda and get a blank look. Just water, then? The bartender grimaces apologetically. “I think there’s a water fountain in the lobby?” she says.

There is. But it’s broken. I mingle empty-handed for 15 minutes, fending off well-meaning offers to get me something from the bar. After the fifth, I realize I’m going to cry if one more person offers me alcohol. I leave and cry anyway. Later I order vanilla ice cream from room service to cheer myself up.

“People love this with a shot of bourbon poured over it,” the person taking my order says. “Any interest in treating yourself?”

That’s the summer I realize that everyone around me is tanked. But it also dawns on me that the women are super double tanked — that to be a modern, urbane woman means to be a serious drinker. This isn’t a new idea — just ask the Sex and the City girls (or the flappers). A woman with a single malt scotch is bold and discerning and might fire you from her life if you f**k with her. A woman with a PBR is a Cool Girl who will not be shamed for belching. A woman drinking Mommy Juice wine is saying she’s more than the unpaid labor she gave birth to. The things women drink are signifiers for free time and self-care and conversation — you know, luxuries we can’t afford. How did you not see this before? I ask myself. You were too hammered, I answer back. That summer I see, though. I see that booze is the oil in our motors, the thing that keeps us purring when we should be making other kinds of noise.

One day that summer I’m wearing unwise (but cute, so cute) shoes and trip at the farmer’s market, cracking my phone, blood-staining the knees of my favorite jeans, and scraping both my palms. Naturally, I post about it on Facebook as soon as I’ve dusted myself off. Three women who don’t know I’m sober comment quickly:

“Wine. Immediately.”

“Do they sell wine there?”

“Definitely wine. And maybe new shoes.”

Have I mentioned that it’s morning when this happens? On a weekday? This isn’t one of those nightclub farmer’s markets. And the women aren’t the kind of beleaguered, downtrodden creatures you imagine drinking to get through the day. They’re pretty cool chicks, the kind people ridicule for having First World Problems. Why do they need to drink?

Well, maybe because even cool chicks are still women. And there’s no easy way to be a woman, because, as you may have noticed, there’s no acceptable way to be a woman. And if there’s no acceptable way to be the thing you are, then maybe you drink a little. Or a lot.

The year before I get sober, I’m asked to be The Woman on a panel at the company where I work. (That was literally the pitch: “We need one woman.”) Three guys and me, talking to summer interns about company culture. There are two female interns in the audience, and when it’s time for questions, one says:

“I’ve heard this can be a tough place for women to succeed. Can you talk about what it’s been like for you?”

As The Woman, I assume for some reason that the question is directed at me. “If you’re tough and persistent and thick-skinned, you’ll find your way,” I say. “I have.”

I don’t say she’ll have to work around interruptions and invisibility and micro-aggressions and a scarcity of role models and a lifetime of her own conditioning. My job on this panel is to make this place sound good, so I leave some stuff out. Particularly the fact that I’m drinking at least one bottle of wine a night to dissolve the day off of me.

But she’s a woman. She probably learned to read between the lines before she could read the lines themselves. She thanks me and sits down.

“I disagree,” says the guy sitting next to me. “I think this is a great company for women.”

My jaw gently opens on its own.

The guy next to him nods. “Absolutely,” he said. “I have two women on my team and they get along great with everyone.”

Of course they do, I think but don’t say. It’s called camouflage.

Guy #1 continues. “There’s a woman on my team who had a baby last year. She went on maternity leave and came back, and she’s doing fine. We’re very supportive of moms.”

Guy #3 jumps in just to make sure we have 100% male coverage on the topic. “The thing about this place,” he says, “is it’s a meritocracy. And merit is gender-blind.” He smiles at me and I stare back. Silent balefulness is all I have to offer, but his smile wavers so I know I’ve pierced some level of smug.

The panel organizer and I fume afterward. “Those f***ing f***s,” she says. “Ratf***s.”

What’s a girl to do when a bunch of dudes have just told her, in front of an audience, that she’s wrong about what it’s like to be herself? What’s a girl to do when a bunch of dudes have just told her, in front of an audience, that she’s wrong about what it’s like to be herself? I could talk to them, one by one, and tell them how it felt. I could tell the panel organizers this is why you never have just one of us up there. I could buy myself a superhero costume and devote the rest of my life to vengeance on mansplainers everywhere.

Instead, I round up some girlfriends and we spend hundreds of dollars in a hipster bar, drinking rye Manhattans and eating tapas and talking about the latest crappy, non-gender-blind things that have happened to us in meetings and on business trips and at performance review time. They toast me for taking one for the team. And when we are good and numb we Uber home, thinking Look at all we’ve earned! That bar with the twinkly lights. That miniature food. This chauffeured black car. We are tough enough to put up with being ignored and interrupted and underestimated every day and laugh it off together. We’ve made it. This is the good life. Nothing needs to change.

Do you remember the Enjoli perfume commercial from the 1970s? The chick who could bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let you forget you’re a man?

I blame that bitch for a lot. For spreading the notion that women should have a career, keep house, and f**k their husbands, when the only sane thing to do is pick two and outsource the third. For making it seem glamorous. For suggesting it was going to be fun. And for the tagline she dragged around: “The 8-Hour Perfume for the 24-Hour Woman.” Just in case you thought you could get one f***ing hour off the clock.

More tales of my first sober summer: I go to an afternoon showing of Magic Mike at one of those fancy theaters that serves cocktails to blunt the terrible stress of watching a movie in air-conditioned comfort. A few rows ahead of me, a group of women are drinking champagne through straws. They whoop and holler at the screen as though at an actual Chippendale’s. In the parking lot afterward, one of them says to the others: “Girl time! We have to claim our girl time.” “We’ve earned this,” another replies. And then they drive off in separate directions.

There’s always one person who can’t deal if someone isn’t drinking. A baby shower is in progress at the nail parlor. Except for the guest of honor, everyone is drinking wine, lots of it. I wonder if the mom-to-be minds, if it feels like they’re rubbing it in. “Thank God there are places like this where we can have lady time,” a woman in a yellow dress says. She tells the mom-to-be she’s far enough along to have some wine. It seems important to her that the mom-to-be drink with them. I catch myself nodding. You, I think. Yeah, I know you. There’s always one person who can’t deal if someone isn’t drinking.

“I’m going to feel hungover by dinner,” a different woman says. “But it’s so worth it. How often do you get a chance to get away from your kids for an afternoon?”

I personally think this is an insensitive thing to say at a baby shower.

Is it really that hard, being a First World woman? Is it really so tough to have the career and the spouse and the pets and the herb garden and the core strengthening and the oh-I-just-woke-up-like-this makeup and the face injections and the Uber driver who might possibly be a rapist? Is it so hard to work ten hours for your rightful 77% of a salary, walk home past a drunk who invites you to suck his c**k, and turn on the TV to hear the men who run this country talk about protecting you from abortion regret by forcing you to grow children inside your body?

I mean, what’s the big deal? Why would anyone want to soften the edges of this glorious reality?

I run a women’s half-marathon on a day in August when temperatures are fifteen degrees above normal. It’s a — what do you call it — a horror show. But I finish and someone puts a finisher’s medal on me. I’m soaked, chafed, limping, and still triumphant. Until they say: “The margarita tent is right over there!”

A yoga studio where I sometimes practice starts a monthly “Vinyasa & Vino” event: an hour of fast-paced yoga in a hundred-degree room, followed by a glass of an addictive, dehydrating substance (made locally!). Oh, but it’s about mindful savoring, I’m told. Well, then. Apologies for thinking it was about mindful reciprocal advertising to an overwhelmingly female audience, and Om shanti.

A local kitchen shop offers a combination knife-skills and wine-tasting class — yes, wine for people who have already self-identified as being so clumsy with sharp objects that they need professional instruction.

At the waxing salon, a cut-glass decanter of tequila is at the ready for first-time Brazilian customers, which — okay, you know what, that tequila was actually pretty helpful back in the day, and far be it from me to deprive other first-timers.

Is there nothing so inherently absorbing or high-stakes or pleasurable that we won’t try to alter our natural response to it? But knives and booze, yoga and booze, 13 mile runs and booze? What’s next to be liquored up: CPR training? Puppy ballet class? (Not really a thing, but someone should get on it.) Is there nothing so inherently absorbing or high-stakes or pleasurable that we won’t try to alter our natural response to it? Maybe women are so busy faking it — to be more like a man at work, more like a porn star in bed, more like 30 at 50 — that we don’t trust our natural responses anymore. Maybe all that wine is an Instagram filter for our own lives, so we don’t see how sallow and cracked they’ve become.

Toward the end of summer I take a trip to Sedona and post a photo to Facebook that captures the red rocks, a stack of books, a giant cocoa smoothie, and my glossy azure toenails in one frame. It is scientifically the most vacation-y photo ever taken.

“Uh, where’s the wine?” someone wants to know.

“Yeah, this vacation seems to be missing wine,” someone else chimes in.

I go to a stationery store to buy a card for a girlfriend. I couldn’t keep it together enough to track greeting card occasions when I was drinking, so it’s been a while since I’ve visited a card shop. There are three themes in female-to-female cards: 1) being old as f**k, 2) men are from Mars, and 3) wine.

“Wine is to women as duct tape is to men…it fixes everything!”

“I make wine disappear. What’s your superpower?”

“Lord, give me coffee to change the things I can…and wine to accept the things I cannot.”

Newly sober women have a lot of wonderful qualities, but lack of judginess not one of them. I don’t just stand there mentally tsk-tsking at the cards. I actually physically shake my head at them like Mrs. Grundy. Are you sure you can’t change those things? I think. And have you stopped to think that if you need ethanol — yes, at this point in my sobriety I called wine ethanol, don’t you wish you could have hung out with me then? — To accept them, maybe it’s because they’re unacceptable?

The longer I am sober, the less patience I have with being a 24-hour woman. The stranger who tells me to smile. The janitor who stares at my legs. The men on TV who want to annex my uterus. Even the other TV men, who say that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” What the fuck business is it of yours whether it’s rare or not? I think.

The magazines telling me strong is the new sexy and smart is the new beautiful, as though strong and smart are just paths to hot. The Facebook memes: muscles are beautiful. No, wait: fat is beautiful. No, wait: thin is beautiful, too, as long as you don’t work for it. No, wait: All women are beautiful! As though we are toddlers who must be given exactly equal shares of princess dust, or we’ll lose our shit.

And then I start to get angry at women, too. Not for being born wrong, or for failing to dismantle a thousand years of patriarchy on my personal timetable. But for being so easily mollified by a bottle. For thinking that the right to get as trashed as a man means anything but the right to be as useless.

“What,” says a woman I enjoy arguing with, “so they can get f***ed up and we have to look after them?”

No, I tell her. We have to look after ourselves.

“That still doesn’t seem fair,” she says, not unreasonably.

We can’t afford to live lives we have to fool our own central nervous systems into tolerating. But who said anything about fairness? This isn’t about what’s fair. It’s about what we can afford. And we can’t afford this. We can’t afford to pretend it’s fine that everything we do or think or wear or say yes or no to is somehow wrong. We can’t afford to act like it’s okay that “Girls can do anything!” got translated somewhere along the line into “Women must do everything.” We can’t afford to live lives we have to fool our own central nervous systems into tolerating.

We can’t afford to be 24-hour women.

I couldn’t afford to be a 24-hour woman. But it didn’t stop me from trying till it shattered me.

I am very angry with women that summer and then I’m very, very angry with myself. And I stay that way for months, trudging through my first sober Christmas and job change and flu and birthday and using that anger at every turn as a reminder to pay attention and go slow and choose things I actually want to happen. By the time summer comes back around I realize I no longer smell like eight-hour perfume.

That second summer, I meet my friend Mindy outside San Diego, where her adopted son is days from being born. Mindy’s dark alleys were different from mine, but she walked them all the same and walked herself out of them, too. Sometimes, talking about the recent past, we blink at each other like people struggling to readjust to sunlight after a long, bad movie. More and more it’s the new that gets our attention: my new job, her newish and happy marriage, the book I’m writing and the classes she’s taking. The things we are making happen, step by step.

We spend the weekend moving slowly and sleeping late and — hypocritically — wishing the lazy baby would hurry up already. On Sunday morning we’re reading by the deep end of the hotel pool when the shallow end starts to fill with women, a bridal party to judge by what we overhear. And we overhear a lot, because they arrive already tipsy and the pomegranate mimosas — pomegranate is a superfood! one woman keeps telling the others — just keep coming until that side of the pool seems like a Greek chorus of women who have major grievances with their bodies, faces, children, homes, jobs, and husbands but aren’t going to do anything about any of it but get loaded and sunburned in the desert heat.

I give Mindy the look that women use to say do you believe this shit? with only a slight tightening of the eyeballs. The woman on the other side of her catches the look and gives it back to me over her laptop, and then woman next to her joins in too. We engage in a silent four-way exchange of dismay, irritation, and bitchiness, and it is wonderful.

Then Mindy slides her Tom Ford sunglasses back over her eyes and says, “All I can say is it’s really nice on this side of the pool.” I laugh and my heart swells against my swimsuit and I pull my shades down too, to keep my suddenly watery eyes to myself. Because it is. It is so nice on this side of the pool, where the book I’m reading is a letdown and my legs look too white and the ice has long since melted in my glass and work is hard and there’s still no good way to be a girl and I don’t know what to do with my life and I have to actually deal with all of that. I never expected to make it to this side of the pool. I can’t believe I get to be here.

11 Secrets Men Keep from Women

I came across this on my internet browser homepage; “11 Secrets Men Keep from Women“. I included only 9. It’s a good list. I’ve talked with women (girlfriends, wives) about such issues before in sessions.

1. “I need you to make me feel like a big, strong man.”
Your husband may feel insecure if his masculine qualities, like physical strength, never impress you. “This isn’t the ’50s anymore, but there are still some genetically determined pieces of men’s self worth,” says marriage therapist Mike Dow, PsyD. Since he’ll feel even less like a tough guy divulging this need for extra attention, he’ll stay mum. So compliment his brawn – even if it’s just for popping the lid off the jam jar. Also, give him a chance to assemble that dresser before offering your expertise. Dr. Dow says if you take charge instead of letting him take care of it, he’ll feel emasculated.

2. “Mum’s the word.”
Ever feel like your opinionated hubby’s holding something back? Men aren’t naturally gifted at expressing themselves like women, so they may keep quiet about sensitive subjects. But those secrets can cause marriage problems. “If it’s safe for him to speak honestly, that might improve his experience in the relationship,” says clinical psychologist Andra Brosh, PhD. I’ll tell women, two things in this area: ask him nicely without attitude, what he is thinking about a topic you are talking to him about, if he is quiet; watch your reaction to his comments, the more emotional you become the less likely he is to talk. The emotional drama scares men; they feel confused with what to do or say, if you cry or yell; they feel manipulated.

3. “Yes, I was checking out that woman.”
The male brain is hardwired to notice pretty young things, since they’re likely to be fertile and capable of producing healthy children, says Dr. Dow. In fact, your hubby’s head may turn before his brain realizes! Call him out for ogling or flirting, but let him off the hook for the occasional quick glance. “His brain is closer to an animal’s than yours,” explains Dr. Dow. “As long as you’re the person he dotes on, sleeps with and adores, that 25-year-old has nothing on you.”

4. “It’s not that you look fat in that dress, they just all look the same to me.”
Distant sights may register easily for him – “his hunter brain needed to target animals far away to bring home dinner a few thousand years back,” says Dr. Dow – but he isn’t attuned to finer, up-close details. To him, the blue dress looks just like the red one you tried on. If he stumbles through a response about your outfit when you ask what he thinks, don’t read into it. “If he married you, it’s because he thinks you’re beautiful,” says Dr. Dow. “He wants you to wear whatever dress you like best.”

5. “Making love is great, but let’s just have sex on occasion.”
When it comes to doing the deed, men are microwaves and women are slow cookers, says Dr. Dow. “Your female brain is swimming in oxytocin, which gives you a peaceful high throughout the day, but men’s testosterone depresses oxytocin production but he gets a big oxytocin dose right after an orgasm,” says Dr. Dow. While he enjoys the romance of making love, sometimes he’d prefer to get to the big O faster. It’s tough for him to delicately explain this, so if he’s normally eager to please you, return the favor every now and then with a mind-blowing quickie.

6. “I have particular sexual fantasies.”
Whether it’s innocent or risque, he probably won’t make these most private wishes known – but not because he wants to keep them to himself. “Many men have a difficult time communicating what they prefer in bed, ” says Charles J. Orlando, author of The Problem with Women…is Men. “He might want it, but doesn’t know how to ask or let you know.” Help him by sharing one of your fantasies, Orlando suggests. “Nothing like showing your vulnerability to encourage him to do the same.”

7. “Sometimes I’d rather you be quiet.”
Although you’re perfectly capable of listening to him while you’re relaxing, he can’t multitask as well. “The male brain is more linear, moving from task to task,” says Dr. Dow. Plus, “communicating at work all day exhausts his brain more than yours.” But admitting he needs alone time as you spill your office problem doesn’t seem supportive, so he doesn’t bring it up. Try giving him some space when he comes home. Once he’s had the chance to unwind, “conversation will come more easily for him,” says Dr. Dow. It will be more enjoyable for you too.

8. “I lie to keep the peace.”
If he doesn’t know what’ll set you off, he may fib to avoid a potential confrontation. “If we get that this secrecy is about fear, we can be more compassionate and help our mate with his anxieties., says couples therapist Sue Johnson, PhD, author of Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love. If he messes up and “fesses up’, take a deep breath and address it without getting angry. And if you do fight, tell him after that you nevertheless appreciate his honesty. (see #2)

9.  “We’re struggling financially.”
Men equate financial stability with their provider skills: The more unstable things are, the more he feels like he’s failed as a provider. “If he’s making less than he used to and the bills aren’t able to be paid, he might hide it,” says Orlando. “He may not want to look at himself, much less look poorly in your eyes.” While losing his job is too big of a secret to keep, he may not divulge exactly how much is going out and coming in. “Stay involved in the finances, so life’s curve balls don’t surprise you,” Orlando advises. “And let him know regularly that you love him – not the cash that comes in.”

The Complicated Truth About Girls and Sex

Perhaps you’ve come to terms with high school girls’ having sex.  But if you knew what kind of sex they’re having, says author Peggy Orenstein, you’d be sitting your teen down for a big talk (even if he’s a boy).  by Rebecca Traister, MORE Magazine, April 2016

When it comes to sex, the kids are not all right.  Or at least not as all right as they should be in 2016, 50 years after the sexual revolution and at the height of a feminist revival among women under 30.

The journalist Peggy Orenstien knows this turf.  Her last book, Cinderella Ate MY Daughter, was an eye-opening look at the way a pink sheen of sexualized passivity is sold to young girls.  Now, in Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape, Orenstein reveals what’s happening to those tiara-topped tots – as well as their male counterparts – as they move past puberty.

The book is sure to be controversial, since Orenstein dives straight to the problem:  Teenage girls may be having more sex (or at least different kinds) than their mothers and grandmothers, but it seems few of them are having good sex.  In interviews with more than 70 girls ages 15-20 nationwide, she’s learned that for them sex has been neither fulfilling nor mutual and that neither they nor their partners recognize or prioritize female pleasure.  What she’s laid out is a nuanced read for anyone who remembers being a young woman and anyone who is raising the generation of girls (and boys) for whom we hope the future holds sexual satisfaction, not pain or disappointment.  Here, Orensteinm, 54, discusses the new ways we should be talking to our daughters and sons about sex – and what’s at stake if we don’t.

Some headlines say today’s kids are having less sex than earlier generations; others say more.  Which is it?

It depends on what kind of sex you’re talking about.  Girls are not having intercourse earlier; they’re having oral sex.  Or more precisely, they’re providing it.  By the end of ninth grade, nearly one in five children has engaged in oral sex.  By age 18, about two thirds have.  That [trend] is part of my push to redefine what we think of as sex and how we talked to girls and boys about it.  IF we keep focusing on intercourse as the line in the sand between experience and inexperience, we’re not acknowledging this huge area of sexual activity that kids are engaged in at earlier ages than ever before, often without reciprocity and with the risk of getting hurt.

So why has oral sex begun to dominate as the preferred sexual activity?

What we’re talking about are blow jobs, largely, because while most girls will say they have experienced giving oral sex, they don’t feel good about receiving it.  Many of them are grossed out by their own genitals and worried that guys are disgusted by the idea of going down on them.  At the end of the 20th century, there was a confluence of three key things:  abstinence-only education, which defined sex as intercourse; the Monica Lewinsky scandal, where the message was that they “didn’t have sex,” the implication being that oral sex was not really sex; and the rise of AIDS, which made it feel as if intercourse could kill you, so people turned to oral sex instead.  All together, this led kids to think that oral sex is no big deal.  During my research, girls would say blow jobs were a way of satisfying a boy without having to compromise themselves.  They’s say, “I feel like I’m in control.”  Like they were the ones doing it, as opposed to the ones being done to.

Why is the goal of satisfying boys still a central mission for girls?

I was disturbed that girls felt boys were entitled to be satisfied.  A lot of boys were not coercive about intercourse but could be coercive about oral sex.  The girls talked about the “shoulder push” – you’re kissing and the boy puts both hands on your shoulders and pushes you down.  But girls would say that when boys traveled down on them, they would take the boys’ shoulders and scoop up.

So what happened to girls’ impulse to prioritize sexual pleasure of their own?

There’s a phenomenon I call the psychological clitoridectomy – the idea that women’s sexual pleasure, anatomy and identity are not important, and if we don’t tell girls about them, they won’t find out about them.  Which is true!  But lack of entitlement to sexual pleasure doesn’t keep girls from being sexually active. [The psychological clitoridectomy] starts early:  For example, parents of young kids don’t tend to name their girls’ genitalia.  With boys they say, “Here are your toes, your pee-pee,” but they ignore the whole genital area with girls.  Then kids go into puberty-education classes, and you see all the boys’ external anatomy and hear about wet dreams.  And girls hear about periods, and you see the outline of the ovaries and the uterus, but they gray out the clitoris and labia.  So girls and boys don’t learn about those.  Then girls are supposed to go into intercourse with some sort of entitlement to sexual pleasure, but no one’s even named their sexual body parts.  So we collude in their sexual inequality.

But we’ve been doing this for a long time, right?  It’s not new that women’s sexual pleasure comes second to men’s.

People say to me all the time, Is this really any different from how it used to be?  But there are ways in which it is different.  There is the tremendous influence of Internet porn; one recent study said 60 percent of college students watch porn to figure out how sex works.  And that’s very, very, very bad.  But for the sake of argument, let’s say it’s not different from how it’s always been.  Then why isn’t it?  Why have we advanced in other areas, told girls to lean in, yet not made sex better for them?

Can you talk about the mash-up of young feminist “sex positive” empowerment and what you found about teenage girls’ real experience of sex?

Young women who identify as feminists and are highly educated are sold the idea that to be openly sexual is empowering.  And it can be.  It can be empowering in that you can get a lot of reward if you fit that image.  One girl said to me, “I never feel more liberated than when I’m wearing a bandage skirt and five-inch heels.”  But when she gained weight, she didn’t feel so liberated.  So the liberation was only if you fit the right body type, which is not liberation – it’s conformity.  If all the confidence comes off with your clothes, then what’s the point?

What is your advice?  How should parents be talking to their daughters?

This is not just about how we talk to girls.  If we want our children to grow up and have respectful, mutually satisfying sexual relationships, we need to speak to our boys, too.  And we have to start talking to boys and girls earlier.  You can start with a discussion about anatomy but also about affections and how you don’t hug somebody who doesn’t want to be hugged and how touching your clitoris is good, albeit something you do in private.  Keep the conversation going.  It can be integrated into everything else.  We have to get over our own sex education, or our own lack of education, and be aware that we live in an era saturated with pornography and that both boys and girls need to be told those images are harmful.  They need to be talked to about sexual mutuality; they need to know what an orgasm is.  These things are not going to make kids have sex earlier, but they might make them have sex better.


From an article in MORE Magazine, April 2016, by Rebecca Traister

Guys, the Holidays Really are Different for Her

When we, (guys, in general) think of holiday meals with family, we think of watching TV, over-eating, drinking (perhaps a little too much), and teasing siblings.  Have you ever stopped and considered what it’s like for her, your wife or girlfriend?  Consider the following:

  • If she brings a dish, she fears/knows it will be judged on what it looks like, how it was cooked, if people like it/eat it.
  • She’ll be judged on what she is wearing, how her hair looks, and/or what her weight is.
  • She’ll be judged on what she says, how she responds to people who disagree with her, and/or what her political positions are.
  • She’ll be judged by her mother, father, MOTHER-IN-LAW, father-in-law, siblings, sibling’s spouses, her kids, her kid’s kids, her sibling’s kids, sibling’s kid’s kids, aunts and uncles, cousins…..even the dog.
  • She looks out for that lecherous uncle that tends to grope when he hugs “hello” and “goodbye”.
  • She’s judged if she doesn’t help cook and clean up, and how she cooks and cleans up.
  • She is expected to be nice to the neice that complains about her gift (after she agonized over getting the right item).
  • She is expected to be nice to the aunt that is critical of her working full time, the mother-in-law that she never seems to please, and her own sibilings who always insist their child be first.
  • She is expected to be nice to the in-law that is “perfect” in everything including her weight, style of dress, profession, parenting, and religion. (Who, by the way, the mother-in-law loves.)
  • She is expected to be nice to the cousin that is always the center of attention, her father-in-law that goes on and on about small engine repair for hours, and the various “mistakes” people jokingly accuse her of that happened years ago which are brought up at every family meal.

Do you get the picture?

What to do:

  • Ask her what she is most concerned about with holidays at your parents.
  • Listen to her.  Reflect back so she knows you are listening.
  • DON’T minimize her concerns.
  • Ask what she wants you to do to help to prepare for the visit.
  • Check in with her during the visit to see how she’s doing and what you could do to help.

More later……..

“Advice to my teen daughter on handling the inequities of campus life”

I recently read the above essay in the current issue of Time magazine, February 9, 2015.  I am so moved by it I decided to share it with you.

“Be Brave, Be Safe. Advice to my teen daughter on Handling the inequities of campus life; by Susanna Schrobsdorff.

“I have two teenage daughter, which means I live in a household of head-snapping contradictions.  Everything you’ve heard about adolescent girls is true and not true.  They are in equal parts infuriating and beguiling, full of arrogance and certainty one minute, crumpled by insecurity the next.  And just when you think you’ve accidentally raised judgmental mean girls, they do something so kind, so empathetic (like help you change their demented grandfather’s sheets without a word of complaint) that the memory of it sustains you through a whole month of snark.

One day they go into their bedrooms all gangly and tweeny and come out looking like women.  This is to be expected, yet we are not prepared for the way the world looks at them in the wake of that transformation.  After one daughter’s middle-school graduation, she strode down the street in her new heels and with her new curves, plowing ahead of us without looking back.  It was all I could do not to follow her waving my arms and yelling, “I know she doesn’t look it but she’s only 14!”

Now she’s 17 and applying to college.  I have to let her disappear around that corner on her own.  This is never easy for parents, but perhaps it’s even less so these days.  She’s busy imagining who she’ll be when she’s living among her peers, on a campus somewhere that is not here.  Meanwhile, I’m unable to stop reading the headlines about sexual assault and bungled rape investigations at some of the best universities in the country.

In late January, I couldn’t seem to escape the accusations that a group of football players had raped an unconscious neuroscience major at Vanderbilt University.  At a trial for two of them, the lawyer for one of the accused said his client’s judgment was distorted by a campus culture in which drunken sex was prevalent.

Just the fact that this case wasn’t swept under the rug is encouraging.  New federal mandates that aim to reform the way universities handle sexual-assault cases represent huge progress.  And sure, the stats on how persasive the problem is are still being debated, but the awful stories keep coming.  So while I might have worried more about pregnancy, now the specter of assault looms larger.  How do I talk to my college-bound daughter about that?

The irony is that while we’ve always warned our little girls about strangers, the number say that if our college-age daughters are assaulted, it will likely be by someone they know.  And like a lot of mothers, I’ve spent years telling my girls that they can do anything a boy can, that they can rely on their smarts above all and that they should never be ashamed of their bodies.  But that’s not exactly true.  No, girls can’t get drunk like guys can at a party, not without compromising their safety.  And yes, girls are more vulnerable, physically and in other ways.  Accusations of promiscuity can still damage a woman to an extent that may men can hardly fathom.  Just ask that Vanderbilt student, now a Ph.D. candidate.  Her alleged assailants took humiliating photos of her during the attack.

It’s not fair, but it’s reality.  I realize that I need to have some version of the talk that so many African-American parents have with their sons about being careful of what they wear and how they behave so as not to put themselves in danger.  To our girls we say, Be brave, take risks.  But internally we want them to do whatever it takes to stay safe.  We say, Be proud of your beauty.  Yet we fear that showing it off will make them a target.

It’s a thicket of contradictions and hypocrisy-as my daughters are quick to inform me when I dare suggest maybe they put a jacket over that strappy top.  But I can’t help offering some advice as I watch one prepare to walk out the door:

Nourish you female friendships.  You want women in your life who will have your back at parties and will speak up when you’re about to do something you shouldn’t.  And you’ll have their back too.  Being a part of this kind of posse is a lifelong gift.

When it comes to guys, look for kindness over cool.  And trust your gut.  If it feels wrong, leave;  Say no.  Say no. Say no.

I always defend your right to wear what you want and have just-for-fun sex if you want.  But as your mother, I wish you so much more. I hope you take any chance you can to know someone truly and intimately.  It is the best perk of being human.

If the inequities get you down, know that you are part of a revolutionalry generation that is insisting on change.  Just look at the women in a new documentary debuting at Sundance called The Hunting Ground.  It’s the story of student assalt survivors who cleverly used Title IX (the legislation forbidding gender discrimination) to force the Department of Education to investigate sexual-assalt accusations at schools across the country.  They transformed their vulnerability into something powerful.

And if you need me, I am still here.”

Some of you may know, I have two college-aged daughters myself; so you can see why this hit home. But beyond that, Ms. Schrobsdorff describes so accurately the experience of adolescent girls/daughters (and the real fears we as parents have when they go off to college) and provides not only great suggestions on how to address these realities but verbalizes them wonderfully when we speak to our daughters.  These are the fears/dilemmas I hear in my office, often by mothers, and I believe one of the functions of therapy is to give the “client” words, phrases, ideas and occasionally, entire dialogues to use later when you are with your loved one trying to discuss a difficult topic.

So…there you go.  I hope it helped you.


More later.

Your daughter posts nude pics of herself on the net, what to do.

Check  out my video blog on how to handle discovering your daughter has posted on the internet or sent pics of herself nude to classmates/guys.

More later…..

The First Day of School for Girls

I recently sat/talked with a mother of a 17 your old girl.  On the first day of school, the daughter got up 2 1/2 hours early to “get ready” but was late (for school). The girl came downstairs three different times in three different outfits and apparently redid her makeup and hair four times.  On the way to school, while the mother told her she was beautiful (and didn’t yell at her for being late), the girl commented that she was not beautiful and in fact was ugly.

The previous year, the mother described how she would remind, cajole, and yell at her daughter to be at school on time.  This year, however, she decided to let her decide when to be to school and let her experience the consequences if she was late.  The mother said, when she reminded the girl what time it was getting to be that first morning, the girl said to her, “Do you think I don’t know what time it is?”.

The mother was beside herself as to what to do with her daughter.

I made a number of suggestions:

1. Recognize this year (and probably last year…and the next 3-4 years!) are transitions years for her daughter.  She is increasingly bumping up against a VERY personal reality of life: Life expects to be at school on time regardless of the state of your beauty…ready or not.  Our society/media tells her she can be more beautiful with this or that new product, new makeup, etc. but she can be only as beautiful as she is (within the limits of her knowledge of applying make-up, styling her hair, etc..).  THIS IS AN INCREDIBLY HARD LESSON TO LEARN.  This is learning that takes place over time.  This is why she gets up repeatedly early every morning and trying to make herself more beautiful or perfect. It may take her years to learn this lesson. People learn this lesson over and over as they live life and encounter different expectations of life and the state of their abilities for meeting these expectations.

2. The mother’s idea to sit back and not cajole her daughter was a good idea.  This leaves this battle between the daughter and society’s expectation.  That doesn’t mean however, it will be easy to witness her daughter struggle.  Hopefully, later, the daughter will realize what she is truly fighting (The voice in her head telling her she can be more.  Some of the voice is coming from herself – her own self talk.  Some of it is coming from our society/media.) will accept herself more and l turn a deaf ear to those advertisers who are telling her she can be more beautiful.

3. Tell her daughter that she understands that the daughter is struggling with accepting herself as she is and that this is really difficult, that she recalls struggling with the same dilemma herself when she was her age, that she still sees ways in her life today that she struggles with the same dilemma…accepting herself as she is despite how the world tells her how she is supposed to be…and that in time, she has faith that the daughter will figure out this battle.

4. Don’t offer suggestions.  If you have an idea for the daughter, tell her so but then wait until the daughter asks for your idea.  This is a personal battle between life and the daughter.  Mom can’t fight it for daughter and daughter will resent and resist mother if mother tries to step in and fight it for her.

5. Think of the different ways you have fought this battle so that if she asks for examples of how you have dealt with this, you can readily list them off.

For example, in my own life…I can only expect myself to be as good a therapist as I am today, not as I will be in 10 years or as good as some of my colleagues. And… I can only be as good a therapist as I have decided to be in the present.  I chose years ago to not spend my free-time reading a lot of dry books on therapy.  When I tried to read therapy books all the time, I felt miserable.  This limited my knowledge about therapy but  honestly, I have learned more about being a therapist from being in therapy for my own problems that reading books. The standard for me as a therapist is myself.  I compare my skills as a therapist today to my skills 10 years ago, not to the skills of my colleagues.  I also compare my skills today as a therapist to the amount of time I want to put into being a good therapist.  I tried to be the “best therapist ever”. I never became that person and was miserable.  So, I gave that dream up and found that I am satisfied with the therapist I am.

6. Have faith that she can figure out what to do with this battle/dilemma.  Why wouldn’t you…after all, you figured it out.  If you don’t have faith that she can figure this out, call me for an appointment for yourself.  By the way, this is not a repeat of #4.  In #4., I suggested you tell her you have faith in her.  In this one, I am tell you to have faith!


More later


His Diary/Her Diary and the different way men and women think.

Her Diary:

Tonight, I thought my husband was acting weird.  We had made plans to meet at a nice restaurant for dinner.  I was shopping with my friends all day long, so I thought he was upset at the fact that I was a bit late but he made no comment on it.  Conversation wasn’t flowing so I suggested that we go somewhere quiet so we could talk.  He agreed but he didn’t say much.  I asked him what was wrong. He said “Nothing”.  I asked him if it was my fault that he was upset. He said he wasn’t upset, that it had nothing to do with me and not to worry about it.  One the way home, I told him that I loved him.  He smiled slightly and kept driving.  I can’t explain his behavior.  I don’t know why he didn’t say “I love you too”.  When we got home, I felt as if I had lost him completely, as if he wanted nothing to do with me anymore.  He just sat there quietly and watched TV.  He continued to seem distant and absent.  Finally, with silence all around us, I decided to go to bed.  About 15 minutes later, he came to bed.  But I still felt that he was distracted and his thoughts were somewhere else.  He fell asleep.  I cried.   I don’t know what to do.  I’m almost sure that his thoughts are with someone else.  My life is a disaster.

His Diary:

Motorcycle won’t start…can’t figure out why.


Ok…first, this is great! LOL. But aside from that (and yes, it is a bit extreme), there is an important point to learn from this…Men and Women Think Differently and if you want a satisfying relationship, both need to understand this, both need to understand how the other tends to think (Personal life experiences will shape how your interpret and react to events occuring in your life.) and both need to be willing to talk about what they (themselves) are thinking and what the other is thinking.

Men…don’t roll your eyes at this.  Need I have to remind you that women bring SO much to our lives.  Men need to talk more about what they are thinking and feeling to their women.

Women…monitor or check the degree of emotionality in your thinking.  If you listen to communication experts, they suggest women need to stop making assumptions about what is going on with their men, ask suscient questions, accept that, as a whole, we are quieter than women and can become obsessed about things that have absolutely nothing to do with you (our women) or our relationship with you and which makes no sense to you at all…the fact that our motorcycle doesn’t start…it started last summer….

Obviously, this is not a solution to all relationship problems but I do see the principles of this cartoon get played out in my office enough for me to keep this cartoon on hand for couples to read and discuss.

More later…

Men to Avoid: 11 Characteristics

1.  He takes no responsibility for anything.  He blames others/things/circumstances for his behavior.

2.  He treats you rough at times…twisting your arm, pulling your hair, shoving you.

3.  He is nice to others but treats you badly.

4. He steals; he uses people, cheats them out of money, always borrowing to spend on himself and then doesn’t pay back the loan.

5. He professes to be “religious” but attacks your religious beliefs.

6.  He gives gifts but demands favors in return.

7.  He puts down women in front of you.  He’ll ridicule you if you get upset.

8.  He encourages pity from others.   He tells stories about how he was victimized all his life…that no one really ever loved him.

9.  He constantly cuts down your friends and family and tries to keep you isolated from them.  When you do get together with them, he wants you to tell him everything that was said and makes you account for all the time you were away.

10.  He is very impatient and when he gets angry, he will destroy (your) property.

11.  He is overly sensitive and sulks when he does not get his way.