Despite Style editor Paul Wilner getting laid off, my story on About-Face finally appeared in the Chronicle Style section. You can read it here:

SELLING A POSITIVE SELF-IMAGE: Group weighs in on advertising impact

Also, since it's getting so much hype, it bears mentioning that I am the "Her" in this blog post titled Hipsters and "post-feminism"

The blog belongs to my pal James Minton, who is a cool guy on several levels. He is both an anti-sexist warrior and a devoted anti-Iraq war activist. He wrote a very moving post on Cindy Sheenan's resignation from the movement and alerted me to the weird, old-world sexism still alive in Europe. Also, he made a incredible movie about the veterans protesting the Iraq War in the ruins of Hurricane Katrina. You can download it here

Our discussion about hipsters has been linked at least three times. First, on Stan Goff's Feral Scholar blog. Stan is one of my favorite people I've never met. He's a very smart, plain-spoken, Southern progressive.

James M. on Being Hip

On this site, Insurgent American, but it looks like one of their servers is down.

And on Briar Patch magazine's The May B-List, next to the likes of Naomi Klein and Seymour Hersh.
Normal is the new overweight

FEAR the Freshman 15. Bill O'Reilly has kept his waistline down - isn't that great?

What's so interesting about all these comments, as someone on [ profile] kissmyass_cosmo pointed out, is that MeMe, as psychotic as she is, is debating "health." She's like some overzealous schoolmarm who smacks the doughnut out of your hand and thinks there's only a 15-pound range of "health." Of course, Americans SHOULD eat better and exercise, just as the corporations SHOULD put healthy whole foods on the market. But limiting "health" to ridiculous TV beauty standards, where, on "America's Next Top Model" a size 6 is considered "plus-size," is ridiculous. And triggering for eating disorders - which are much more deadly than the Freshman 15.

It's just like those tabloids that scream "Nicole Richie is UNHEALTHY at 98 pounds!!!" and on the next page, "Jessica Simpson is FAT: 130 pounds!!!" Nicole is seen as "healthy" at 110 and Jessica is "healthy" at 115. So there's a 32 pound range between anorexic and obese? How do they get these numbers anyway? Do paparazzi carry scales around with them? Height is never ever mentioned.

But I digress. The totally irrelevant factor that comes into play in the comments about this MeMe Roth discussion of "health" is looks and how men feel about these women's looks. We're talking about health, and men have to chime in, "Well, I would **** her." Because you wanting to **** her determines her health? How does that work, exactly?

Then it devolves into a discussion of who is hotter, MeMe or Jordin? Jordin champs get called "chubby chasers" and MeMe is called a boney, disgusting, boyish bitch. Oh boy! Here we go again! Fat vs. Flat: Round 1 million. You can't have a world where men have different sexual preferences and all sorts of women, the curveless and those with curves, are attractive, no. Everyone gets insulted! Hey, weren't we talking about health?
Check it out:

My interview with Mary Timony (formerly of Helium).

“With Helium, I was strongly thinking about women's empowerment and a lot of the song lyrics had to do with that,” Timony says. Yet she insists that for The Shapes We Make, she didn’t put much thought into her lyrics — they just came tumbling out in a stream-of-consciousness way. Regardless, her feminist leanings come to the surface, especially in a song like “Pause/Off,” in which she berates a protestor outside a pharmacy and commands anti-abortion politicians to "Get your laws off my body."

Taking a lyrical stand like this makes the 37-year-old a little nervous. “I remember after The Dirt of Luck came out, [the reaction] was just awful,” she says. “The way I was treated by a lot of male writers. I was labeled as the crazy girl who’s really angry. It was a weird time. I was only 24, and there were women writers who totally understood. I think that whole experience of talking to so many guy writers who didn’t get it — who were like, ‘What up with you? Why are you crazy?’ — it just made me not want to talk about it. I'm just a little bit anxious about that line in that song. It’s something I really care about, but having to deal with people’s negative reaction can suck.”
Explain to me what universe we're living in where Mandy Moore is "big" or "fat"? Maybe she's tall and has large bone structure (really, I had no idea), but the girl is skinny. Really, I always thought of her as a teeny, wispy girl. And Alicia Silverstone? Fat?

Also, America Ferrara has a beautiful hourglass figure, as do so many "fat" starlets, where as real-life "fat" people are not so pleasantly shaped. I like that Sienna Miller is straight-up about airbrushing.

It's a stupid world we live in )

Below are some talking points on how I've been committed to human rights and social justice in my reporting:

1. As a freelancer writer for the San Francisco Chronicle and teen magazines like Elle Girl and Teen Vogue, I have been dedicated bringing minority voices to the forefront, pitching and proposing stories about

• Poor black teenagers who lost everything in Hurricane Katrina, and had to start their lives all over again.
• American Indian powwow dancers who face discrimination on a daily basis.
• The youth hip-hop culture in Oakland where kids in desperate situations who have watched their friends die and their families get destroyed by drugs find joy and hope in dancing.
• An ongoing series following high school students in different socioeconomic classes in the Bay Area, highlighting the similarities and differences of their experiences and how privilege or lack thereof affects them.
• An investigation into whether impoverished blacks or Latinos get their cars towed more often in Oakland.
• An investigation into whether black grass-roots art and cultural organizations in downtown Oakland are targeted for code violations, while the police turn a blind eye to white-run underground galleries and warehouse spaces.

2. Stories that have resulted from those pitches:

• An "As Told to" piece in Teen Vogue about Lemhi Shoshone powwow dancer Leela Abrahamson, who talks about the impact of racism on her life at Fort Hall Reservation, Idaho. The story will appear in the August 2007 issue.

• An San Francisco Chronicle story about a teenage Katrina survivor who drove busloads of people out of New Orleans
"Katrina as a blessing: It sent one teen here - His life was stormy before hurricane hit," San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 27, 2006

• Several stories on the hyphy hip-hop movement and youth culture in Oakland for the San Francisco Chronicle and Intersection magazine.
"Mistah F.A.B.: Hyphy rapper uses his star power to better Oakland," San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 22, 2006
"Clubland: Hyphy dancing at Youth Uprising," San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 16, 2005

• A story about Oaklandish art gallery and cultural center getting shut down for code violations.
"Clubland: Oaklandish on the verge of closing," San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 28, 2005

3. In 2005, I decided to volunteer to help the survivors of Hurricane Katrina staying at Astrodome and Reliant Center in Texas. To increase awareness, I blogged about what I saw for the San Francisco Chronicle web site.

Blog on Hurricane Katrina survivors in Texas, SF Gate, Sept. 7-10, 2005

4. I am also committed to writing about the continuing struggle for equality for women in our society. Good examples are my pieces on the Woodhull Institute and Naomi:

• "Institute pokes holes in the glass ceiling," San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 12, 2003

• "Did Father Know Best? In her new book, third wave feminist Naomi Wolf reconsiders her Bohemian upbringing," San Francisco Chronicle, June 19, 2005

5. I have also expressed to Naomi and the Woodhull Institute my goals of staring a magazine for teenage girls that focuses on their dreams and achievements instead of dating and beauty products.

6. For what it's worth, I committed to a four-year series following a San Francisco girl through high school for Elle Girl. The whole project followed four girls in four different cities and circumstances. We finished a year and a half before the magazine folded.

7. I am a champion for positive body image and decreasing our culture's obsession with appearances. I have plans for starting a web site, The Reality of Women Revolution or RoWR, to change women's perception of themselves, which will include an interview I have done with Eve Ensler (and naturally, I would love to feature Naomi and Woodhull, too). In the meantime, I plan on blogging for About-Face ( Plus, I have written essays on the topic:

• Essay, "Silicone Valley: So what if your cups don't runneth over?" San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 13, 2006

Also, I was the only Chronicle staff member to challenge Larry Flynt about how he portrays women when he spoke to reporters about First Amendment struggles.

8. I have also addressed issues of gender identity and sexual orientation, as well as more light-hearted stories that deal with women's self-perception and roles in our culture

• Essentials pick of the week: Deep Dickollective, San Francisco Chronicle, June 22, 2006

• "Pin Curls and Pistons: Hot rod babes not afraid to keep motors running all by themselves," San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 21, 2007

• "Personal Effects: Ditties talk back to PMS blues," San Francisco Chronicle, May 15, 2006

9. In college (1994-1998), I was a daily reporter for The Oklahoma Daily (University of Oklahoma student-run newspaper), as well as the Norman Transcript in Norman, Oklahoma, and the Edmond Evening Sun in Edmond, Oklahoma. Topics I wrote about include:

• An award-winning enterprise story on underemployment and liberal arts graduates who could not or would not find good jobs.
• An enterprise investigative series on why the University of Oklahoma did not have a campus-wide recycling program.
• An interview with student missionaries who were in Cambodia when second prime minister Hun Sen staged a coup.
• An interview with one of Timothy McVeigh's lawyers.
• An interview with Muslims facing discrimination in Oklahoma after the 1995 Federal building bombings.
• A feature on student-run human rights organizations who pressured Pepsi to leave Burma and fought against sweatshop labor in Vietnam.
• A report on a lecture by New York Times editor Sydney Schanberg on his experiences in Cambodia.
• A investigation on the state of homelessness in Norman, Oklahoma.
• An expose on funding cuts that would leave disabled adults and students without bus service.
• A piece on African American students who were protesting the lose of their student center to the natural history museum.
• Investigations into the misuse of university funds.
• Coverage of state and city elections, including the election of Rep. J.C. Watts.
firebreath613: (realshirley)
I have a chance to go to Fort Hall, Idaho, described to me as "a desert next to a potato field" to hang out with the Lemhi-Shoshone tribe. I would go soon. Should I take it?

Friday, I'm off to the "Suede Room" at the SF Rod and Custom Show, to hang out with rockabilly grrls who work on cars. Anyone want to go with?

I've been blogged - more than once! Talk about exciting!

I actually met Lisa Hix through a friend in New York. We grazed near the bar at a Trackademicks/Roxy Cottontail shin-diggity-dig. We didn't get a chance to hold a big ol' conversation about politics, cutting edge gadgetry, gals with lumpy breast, or Oakland's Neo-Hipster Nation, but she did scribble her web address on a napkin.

I kepted that whiskey stained napkin and was able to check out her site I'm working on reading all of the work she has listed, but I'm a slow reader (thank you Oakland Unified). Thus far, I've read she's the Managing Editor of FlavorPill SF and a Freelance writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. This gal stays up on everything that is everything. Hopefully we'll meet again! Please visit her site and enjoy her work!

And this one:

Lisa Hix wrote a nice rant about having an A cup for the SF Chronicle in response to hearing a show where a plastic surgeon waxed enthusiastically about implants. She points out that there are in fact health risks (including possibilities of hematoma, infection, deformity, toxic shock syndrome, plus the usual risks of anesthesia, the chance of losing sensation, decreasing the likeliness of breast cancer detection or the inability to nurse) but moreso points out that having an A cup is having a breast, and tires of the kind of talk that somehow equates A cups with not having breasts at all.

As a former A cup, I can tesitfy that you do in fact have breasts when you have A cups. I really enjoyed having A cups. I miss them.

I’ve found my recent re-sizing something to think about. For starters, I’ve been finding it harder to find nice bras now that i’m a D cup, much as I had a hard time finding ones when I was an A cup. The difference is that with a D, you absolutely do not want to compromise on support - in fact, you can’t. But I also had a moment of revelation while reading the beginning of Gerrie Lim’s book about the porn industry, which had more than one reference to pendulous D cups within 10 pages, and so caused me to think, “Huh, who knew? I’ve got pornstar-sized breasts now,” but the idea didn’t thrill me; I took it more like I would someone telling me I had the perfect size foot for shoe fetishists. Basically, I don’t care, because they don’t do me any good. It might have mattered some when I was 25 and single, but I’m not sure I would have cared then, either. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them; I do. But I’d enjoy them more if I could take them off when I want to go to the hardware store or the grocery or to do other errands, all those times when I don’t want to be looked at. Not wanting your breasts stared at by every guy on the streets is exactly why you can’t sacrifice support at this size: if you do, they bounce more, which is not really what you want unless - ba rum bump! - you’re a porn star.

I find myself wearing a sports bra most days now, actually. Mostly I’ve realized that I’m glad I don’t get to choose, since both sizes have pros and cons, and the only real advantage resides in being one of those grow-up dolls that enabled me to change sizes with a quick, full rotation of one arm.

I cornered her at this cocktail party last night for Women's Media Center, which is out to improve how women are represented in the media. Check it out:

I was nervous to meet and possibly interview her, but I realized I had a lot to talk to her about. I heard she, Jane Fonda and Robin Morgan came to the Chronicle lunch time series, and many women vented their frustration about not getting their stories and voices published. And, the big head honchos were not in the room. At the cocktail party, I talked to her about the language the Chron uses to talk about women, especially all the "guy's guy" critics who ask if Erykah Badu hates men or call Peggy Gugenheim a "groupie."

Then I brought up my body-image Web site. She talked about how it was a real problem. Then I gave her a card and I told her it isn't up, but it's my dream. And she said, "You'll do it then."

I met the new editor of Chronicle features, too, and she wants to meet with me. I explained the hyphy project I'm working on, and she said, "That would be a really good series." Yeah, that's what I think!

I might get to do my series after all. It's good. Because I have MILES of material and most of it is opinions and voices the Chronicle never runs.
Yes, I wrote about my boobs in the Chronicle.

I've been having this paranoid fears the Dr. 90210 or someone on the program will sue me. The "LoveLine" producer at KROQ never got back to me with the CD of the show. Otherwise, I would feel enormously pleased that I got a chance to fight for what I think is right in a public forum. I mean, this is my goal in life, to destroy the Barbie machine.

Three different men, two of which are my father's age, were determined to write me and tell me they concur. One looked me up on MySpace, the other sent a message to Flavorpill and the third wrote the 96 Hours address. The third said, "I can tell by your tone that we would disagree on other issues. But I'm with you on this one."

I've been pushing myself so hard my body is aching from head to toe. My body is tired. But I am fighting to do what I love. Last Saturday, I was hanging out with a drag king in Bernal, then I ate and drank with a hang-dog-face regular at a beautiful beer garden, then I hung out with an all-women car club. The next day I was in East Oakland, talking to a Katrina survivor in his grandparents' house with bars on the windows and lace curtain. It's the best gig ever.

I am so excited about this hyphy story, which is the movement to channel hyphy into a positive force. Last night, I went to a live broadcast of KMEL's "Street Soldiers" at Youth Uprising. There was this kid, 15 years old, who had this amazing story about witnessing horrors, going to jail, hearing about the shooting of his cousin. Now he's got an underground hip-hop movement to put an end to it. He's 15. He's hard. He's an MC. And he has a pissed-off campaign going.

And all the kids love Mistah F.A.B. Zion-I and Goapele were also there. Zion and Amplive are all handsome, sophisticated, well-dressed and well-spoken - the sort of guys I'd hit on but in all likelihood are married with children. But the young 'uns flocked to their hyphy hero with his goofy grillz grin and yellow-bus gold chain. And that guy has so much patience and kindness. He takes everyone's CDs, listens to their stories, signs their posters.

I watched him, thinking, "This is going to be a cool story."

I'm doing awesome things. I'm never going to see my friends again. Sigh. Oh - also, I'm getting a "guerilla" makeover for a story and for my birthday. Yee-haw!

Speaking of: Save the date! September 7 @ Stork Club

It's near BART, and I am going to be there early, so San Francisco people, you have no excuses!

It's a dance party, but there's three rooms and a patio at the Stork Club, so if you don't dance, you STILL have no excuse.

I might talk Isaac into doing a drag cabaret number for me. If you want to perform, let me know. Probably no full bands, but small acts are welcome.

Also, Milkshake, I might need your services, if you're available!
firebreath613: (blossom)
Flipping through my car radio on the way to 12 Galaxies tonight, I came across a program touting breast implants. It was Lovelines. But no Dr. Drew, no Adam Carolla. No, they had this creep from Dr. 90210, Dr. Robert Ray.

Right away, he was sketching me out, talking about how he believes silicone implants are totally safe. And they feel more real. While saline implants bubble and grow algae - ew ew ew! Hey, I have an idea. Maybe that's because you're not supposed to put foreign substances IN YOUR BREASTS, but that's just a theory. I have an aunt who had some leaky old silicone implants, so she will probably beg to differ on his first point.

What made me hate this guy more than anything was his charming, warm, fatherly tone of voice. That "bedside manner" doctor voice that makes people trust him. What bothers me so much about "cosmetic surgery" is the it makes doctors - who are considered much smarter than the rest of us, and therefore, trustworthy - aestheticians, and aesthetics is all subjective. So this guy can lie to and manipulate insecure young women with ease. I could punch him just for that. It's like cigarette CEOs - how do you live with yourself? It's one thing for plastic surgeons to help burn victims or cancer patients or people with genetic deformities. It's another thing all together to make your living selling surgery to healthy people.

And, all these women who call, they have quavering, insecure voices. If I took them to a Woodhull Institute retreat, Naomi Wolf would demand to know: Who took away your voice? These women are already beaten down.

First caller

Melanie, 18, says she's an A, but she just want to be a larger B, that's all. But her friends and family say, "Wait til you're 21" - you might still be growing.

This creep says, "Actually, by 18 or 19, your breasts are more or less done growing. So you're fine for surgery. If you look at your mom and dad's side of the family, and you see no breasts, you're not likely to grow any. Young men are often cruel, and so are young women. Now that breast implants are so safe, why not?"

Why not??

1. Perhaps her family is also talking about mental growth. Maybe she'll go to college, get some self-esteem, learn how to accept herself, take a women's studies class. It's her BRAIN that needs to grow, not her boobs.

2. HAVING AN A CUP DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE NO BREASTS!!!! You have breasts the same as any woman, goddamnit! This is not a problem that needs to be fixed. Oh, this makes me so angry I want to spit nails. A woman who lacks protruding breast tissue would be an AAA, and still a woman!!

3. People tease you, so that means you should change yourself to fit THEIR standards? How about finding new people to talk to? How about learning to love yourself in the face of adversity? Is that a lesson anyone wants to learn these days when you can buy your problems away?

4. SURGERY is not safe, like buying a water bra. When I went in to get my sinuses fixed, I found out just going under could kill me.

Oh, oh, oh - THEN he tells her. "You've picked a pretty size, but it's not the size of choice in L.A.!" And he tried to paint her as so provincial for wanting a B cup. Then him and his sidekick "Striker" say that most models are a C cup, which is bullshit. Maybe most actresses, but not models.

Caller 2

Caller 2, Lena had ALREADY gone from an A to a C, and now she wants BIGGER. Lena is sort of an idiot, because she thinks her C cups are "too round, they don't look real." Yeah, that's because they're implants. But she's also complaining of losing sensation in one nipple, while the other just hurts. But she doesn't want them out - she wants MORE.

So Dr. Creepy blathers about the dangers of addiction to surgery. He says, "I could make you Miss Universe, so of course it's addicting." And then about different shapes of implants blah blah blah. He never addressed this loss of sensation, which you know, should convince most women they never want to do this, ever. Because to me, one of the best parts about being a woman is having your breasts touched. They're not just there to simulate men visually or make other women envious. They are for MY pleasure. My toys.

Also, there's this ongoing joke on "Lovelines" about women lying about their weight on air. So if I called and said "I am 5-3 and I weight 126," which is true, they would say, "Oh, you're 5-0 and 200 pounds and that's the root of all your problems. You're short and fat." So Striker starts to pull this on Lena, and Dr. Creepy oils, "Oh, no, she sounds very pretty." She sounds pretty??

That's when they went to a commercial and I put on the soul station and pull up at the club. But I was fuming. If I had listened any longer, I would have called and yelled.

You know what? I don't think anyone talks about the struggles of A-cup women, so I am going to become our goddamn advocate. There's always discussion about eating disorders, which is excellent work being done. E.D.s kill and are talked about very very seriously, as they should be.

But what of the waste and dangers of all this needless surgery? What of feeling so bad about yourself that you have to get surgery to physically alter your appearance? Where does this come from and why doesn't anyone try to STOP IT? It's seen as such a light frivolous problem, and it's not. It's a sickness.

Let me tell you, you get shit when you're an A-cup. You get looked over at junior high dances when every other girl has developed, and you haven't. You have boys call you railroad tracks, you get mocked by girls with more curves, you have cleavage in your face when you're just buying groceries. People say dumb shit all the time, like my aunt, who goes, "If I were 10 years younger and had bigger boobs, I would go for him." You have lingerie clerks sniff at you when you dare ask if something comes in a size smaller than 34B. Anything lacy at Victoria's Secret comes stuffed with padding in anything small.

But it comes from all sides. When I was a stick-shaped 18-year-old, I got hated on for being so thin. That whole, "You think you're so hott because you're so model thin." Actually, no, I kind of felt like shit. I hated not having curves and being compared to boys. High metabolism - it happens. And for the record, when I got older, and thanks to Paxil, fatter, I still had smaller breasts that were outpaced by my rolls of stomach fat - most of which I lost post-withdrawal. As a college student, Kate Moss made me so relieved I could cry. I was convinced when I was young that attractive guys would never want to sleep with me.

But, and here's the point: I COULDN'T HAVE BEEN MORE WRONG. I've been with all sorts of desirable men. I needed a new way to think of myself, not a new body. Like when Mykee said I was too flat-chested and fat for him. I needed a new boyfriend, not a new body. I don't know why no one is teaching girls this. That sexy comes in all shapes and sizes, that everyone was born with a unique and special body, that gives you gifts through touching and sensation. There doesn't need to be a competition between the Marilyn Monroes and the Kate Mosses. There's room at the table for everyone. There's nothing wrong with you that has to be fixed. Look at me, I don't shave my legs or fix my nails ever. It doesn't deter men, ever. What's wrong with this society that we encourage young girls to change themselves forever when they're very likely grow out of the bad self-image?

Everyone, and I mean everyone, who has an encounter with mainstream society gets beaten down when they're young. But you have two choices. You can take a beating and stay true to yourself, or you can disappear into the herd.

And now for some A-cup power: Look at all our beautiful sisters in Hollywood! Keira Knightly, Debra Messing, Shirley Manson, Natalie Portman, Robin Wright Penn, Erykah Badu, Zhang Ziyi. Sometimes people like to comfort A cups with the lack: You have no reason to have men stare at you, you have no need for a bra, you have nothing in the way of sports or sleeping on your belly. But I prefer to champion what we DO have: awesome, wonderful, cute REAL breasts that are unique. Let's give it up for cute, perky A cups!

Sigh. We're living in a world with The Swan, Extreme Makeovers and Howard Stern hosting TV shows where women have every aspect of their appearance picked apart. Then there's exploitive creeps like the guys from American Apparel and "Girls Gone Wild." Then people say, "Gloria Steniem, she said that body image stuff in the '70s - that's so old news." It needs to be said again. It needs to be said a million times and for the girls born in the '80s who didn't hear it the first time.

And of course, it's a problem, too that women's or girls' magazine don't show fleshy, curvy women, and by curves, I mean bellies. Soft bellies and big thighs and ghetto booties. Not just pin-up ideals. We need more Margaret Chos and Corin Tuckers and Beth Dittos and less models, less Photoshopping. The Barbie ideal which divides us is not real womanhood at all.

I need to start my site NOW. Anyone want to give me a million dollars?



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