My other amazing role model today is Courtney Macavinta, co-author of RESPECT: A Girl's Guide to Getting Respect & Dealing When Your Line is Crossed (Free Spirit, 2005)
If you haven't checked out her book... stop reading this and click over to do that. No really. NOW. Because there are still so few good, smart books that are really about reaching out to girls to help them... instead of just capitalizing on a trend so an author can get a book out. And this book is packed with tips, exercises (no, not the stomach crunching kind. The mind bending kind) and ideas to get young women thinking about respecting themselves, their bodies and others in a new way.
And I'm happy to say, Courtney took time off from appearing on CNN, being quoted in major newspapers across the country and doing all sorts of other activist good on the planet to answer these questions for me. So check it!
Audrey: Could you start by sharing your personal definition of respect, and one thing
we can all do to get it (or to respect ourselves)?
Courtney: Respect to me means to value and honor yourself and others--because
we're all super special (just because we're here!) and should be
treated as equals. Getting respect starts on the inside. For starters,
you need to believe that you're worth something and should have the
same rights as everyone else. But if you're not there yet, you can start by simply
exploring and doing things that you love. Following your passions helps you start
to realize your mission in life. It builds your confidence. It makes you feel like
you matter. And, basically, it helps you find your bliss! With your passions rolling,
then it's all about learning and living The 7 Respect Basics. Listening to
yourself, setting boundaries, speaking up, creating strong relationships and
sisterhood, and getting help when you need it--all of these actions show that
you respect yourself. Then you can spread that respect to your relationships and
world. At the very least self-respect means staying true to you.
Audrey: On page 36 of your book (see, I totally read it!) there are lots of amazing quotes from real
girls talking about their bodies...could you share your top three tips for stopping
the madness when it comes to dissing our bodies?
Courtney: Of all the respect topics, this is the one women and girls seem to
struggle with the most. Me too! I can't tell you how tired I am of
hearing all my smart, beautiful sisters talk for hours on end about
what diet they're on, how much weight they've gained or lost, or what
exercise fade they're following. Don't we have something else to talk
about? Totally! I'm tired of the character of a women being measured by
the number on the scale or the size of her jeans. Our real worth weighs
so much more than that!
Here are my tips:
Think about your body thoughts: Don't separate your mind and body. They
are BFs for life. So do think about how your body is helping you with
your mission in life or to enjoy your passions or to have fun. Respect
and care for your body from that POV. If you're struggling with bad
body thoughts, try this: Record your body thoughts: Keep a journal of
how often you think negative thoughts about yourself for one week. Add
up the minutes. The next week, spend the same amount of time volunteering or helping
someone in need. Compare the weeks. What's the difference in how you felt about
Think about your real bling: Don't organize your entire life, thoughts,spending,
goals, and dreams around maintaining a certain body or beauty ideal--it weakens your
real girl power. As investments go, over time this strategy will leave you feeling
bankrupt and ripped off. Real fulfillment comes from: Caring about yourself.
Appreciating your uniqueness. Respecting your needs. Exploring your passions.
Helping others. Contributing. Questioning anything that doesn't feel right.
Believing in and supporting other women. Learning from rejection and
mistakes and moving on. Not seeing yourself as above or below anyone
else. Knowing you're here, you're special, and you're in charge of
your experience and choices. Doing what you know you should do.
Cut back on toxins: Go on a media fast. It's hard for me to lay down US
Weekly, too, but we have to do it! Would you read a magazine all day
about how to hate women? Or why women are so dumb and all that matters
is the size of their waist? Sometimes these magazines are sending the
same message. When you're no longer marinating your brain in a sea of
size 0s, diet tips, or body-obsessed "role" models, you'll get some
much-needed clarity. What do 'beauty' and 'healthy' mean to you? You
need the space to be the real you--without interruption or outside
pressure--to truly fund out. See Chapter 4 of RESPECT for tons of ways you can
clean up your media diet to boost your body respect.
Boost your self-respect: Make a list of all things you want to try or
love doing. And for the next month, work one of your passions into your
schedule each week. How do you feel now? To boost your confidence, try
something that you've been afraid to tackle. It could be just talking
to someone new, or going out for a team or job or entering yourself
into an election. Start small (where deep down you know you can do
Be a body role model. When we're advocates for other girls and women,
it rubs off on us in a really permanent way (the kinda tattoo you never
want to get rid of). So to start loving your body, show other girls the
love. Around younger girls, don't say you're fat, ugly or anything else
downright mean about yourself. Change the world for the better by *not*
talking the Language of Fat. Don't size each other up based on your
size. Compliment a girl's character, choices, accomplishments and ideas
(not just how cute she looks in pair of jeans). Make body choices that
show your sisters that you *truly* love yourself (like not depriving
yourself of what you need and making your health a priority). Don't be
afraid to try new sports or activities, which also shows other girls
that it's OK not to be perfect all the time (remember, being active
boosts your self-respect either way). Moms, if you want to transform
your daughters' lives in a really amazing way: stop hating, abusing or
putting down your body. They're watching and learning (just like we
Audrey: Could you offer some thoughts on how to make sense of the fact
that the women most frequently featured in the media as role models haven't really
done much to earn our respect... but yet we all know them on a first name basis....
In your opinion, how has this come about and who should be we looking to instead?
Courtney: We do need to question our media role models. If you're looking up to
someone because of her wardrobe, the color of her hair, her party
lifestyle, or her tiny size, think about: What does this woman have to
say? You should be valued for your heart, ideas, creativity,
uniqueness, and contributions to your world. Shouldn't your role models
have to stand up to the same test? It hurts deep down when we're not
appreciated for who we really are. So let's not treat other women and
girls like cardboard cutouts either. Think about: What really matters
to your role models? What do they stand for? What's their mission? How
are they using their life? The answers should reveal if you truly
admire this person or if you need to come up with higher standards for
who you call a role model. You can start by being a role model of
self-respect in your own right!
PS. I should mention that if you click over to Courtney's site... she's got an interview with me up there. We both really liked aspects of each other's books and wanted to dive in on our blogs!