Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, Spotlight Saturday

She’s The Bomb

Say what you wanna say. And let the words fall out. Honestly, I wanna see you be brave.
– Brave, Sara Bareilles

With all this talk over the past few days of feminism, what with the speech heard around the world by Emma Watson at The United Nations, I thought today was a good time to share this.

There is a website I like to read, which posts interesting articles by young women with unique points-of-view.

I would call myself a feminist, but I too have had a hard time defining what that meant. Here is someone who knows a little something about it.

She is the creator of

TheFBomb.org.

She is a feminist, a blogger, and an author.

I contacted her a while back about doing an interview with me, to find out what feminism means to her and what she aims to do with the website.

Welcome Julie.

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K: What is the FBomb.org?

J: The FBomb is a feminist blog written by and for young women and men who believe in equality. While I founded and edit the FBomb, the blog is really an open platform and community based on submissions and exists as a space for a younger generation to define what feminism means to us.

The blog is called (the FBomb) to poke fun at the way the term “feminist” is often vilified, in the hope that socially aware and passionate readers and contributors could reclaim this negative stereotype and show the world that feminism is really a beautiful, positive movement that, at the end of the day, is about the pursuit of equality.

K: How did you decide to start this site?

J: I first became interested in feminism in 8th grade when I started to research the movement and specific feminist issues for a required speech. With the guidance of some great teachers my freshman year of high school, I discovered the world of feminist blogging. I was so inspired and excited by bloggers who took feminist issues seriously while maintaining a sense of humour. the only issue I had with such blogs was that the teenage perspective on most issues – even issues that directly impacted us, like sex education, for example — was missing.

Additionally, I really wanted to create a community where young feminist-minded women and men could come together, share our ideas and offer each other support and advice. It was important to me that an adult or a corporation create this community, but that it was authentically peer-driven.

K: What are your hopes for this site, its future, and what it can do for women and men alike?

J: The FBomb just partnered with the Women’s Media Center, the non-profit organization founded by Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda and Robin Morgan, which aims to make more women visible and powerful in the media. I think this partnership will help this goal by allowing young women and feminist-minded men to develop and use their voices and giving them a platform from which they can add diverse and vital perspectives to the blogosphere and media at large.

On a more personal level though, I think the FBomb has and continues to allow young feminists to find a community and develop a stronger sense of identity as well.

K: What does feminism mean in your eyes?

J: Feminism is, on the most basic level, the pursuit of equality. Feminism as a worldview is about recognizing that people face a variety of different kinds of oppression due to their personal standing in the world (based on socioeconomic factors like race, class, religion, ability, etc.) that intersect to create unique experiences, but that any type of oppression is unjust and must be critically analyzed and pushed back against.

K: What do you think are still some of the biggest battles or issues women face in our world today?

J: I think it’s difficult to isolate certain issues because every woman, based on her perspective and place in the world — faces a unique intersection of challenges and this is why the feminist movement looks, feels, and serves a different purpose for everybody depending on where they’re coming from and who they are.

However, sexual assault and gender-based violence generally is an incredibly pervasive issue that impacts women young and old. For example, as many as 1 out of every 4 college women will experience attempted or completed rape during their time at school. Issues related to body image (including eating disorders, unrealistic standards of beauty in the media, etc.) are also incredibly pervasive amongst young women and an issue many teen feminists focus on.

K: Do you have any idols or role models in particular for yourself or for feminism as a whole? Do you see any women who are making positive changes and providing examples for young women to look up to?

J: Like most feminists, I always have and always will admire Gloria Steinem. She’s such an incredible icon for this movement. She’s an incredibly intelligent and charismatic leader and it’s undeniable that she completely changed and continues to change the way our society views women.

Female politicians – like Hillary Clinton, Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren – are also doing fantastic work to advocate for women. and there are also plenty of women doing incredible things around the world – Leymah Gbowee’s work with Liberian women is astonishing, Zainab Salbi’s work with women for Women International is vital, and there are so many more.

the bottom line is there are plenty of people doing incredible feminist work and making positive change in the world: they just don’t always get the widespread recognition and media attention they deserve.

K: What do you think are the misconceptions people have about all things feminism?

J: In my experience, I’ve found that the biggest reason young women shy away from identifying as feminist is because they don’t feel that they really understand what the movement is or what that word means. Plenty of people still associate feminism with negative stereotypes, but I think more than anything else misconceptions about the movement stem from a lack of education about and exposure to it.

I find that my generation is more willing to identify with and support feminist issues than any other generation in the past (and the statistics back me up on that – according to advocates for youth, 74% of millennials support gay marriage, 68% support access to abortion and 88% support to comprehensive sex education) but more often than not, unfortunately, they don’t realize that that’s what the feminist movement is all about.

K: What’s your best advice for a woman with a disability like myself, or women with other additional challenges in general?

J: My best advice for women facing any challenge is to speak up about it. I started the FBomb so that young adults could find a place to feel that their stories and perspectives are valuable and that speaking out about our individual challenges will help us feel less alone and hopefully work to demystify and eventually eradicate prejudice based on ignorance. I truly believe in that mission: every voice deserves to be heard and the most radical thing one can do is to use theirs to advocate for change.

***

Thank you so much Julie for answering my questions and for everything you do to speak up for women’s rights and equality for all.

To find out more about Julie you can check her out

HEre,

or at her website:

http://juliezeilinger.com

and you can read more on The FBomb, on

Facebook,

or On

Twitter.

and I will be submitting something to the FBomb to speak up, just like Julie suggested because I too feel like I am tired of remaining so shy and staying so quiet.

BRAVE

What are your thoughts on feminism and what it means to be called a feminist in our world today?

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Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections

Mirror Image

“I look in the mirror. Wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face.” – Bruce Springsteen

I wore makeup, for a short time, when I was in my late teens and early twenties. I did it grudgingly and just barely. I asked my sister to help me pick out a basic colour Lipstick, Eyeshadow, and blush. Each time I would apply it, remembering what my sister had told me, I looked for someone sighted to show myself off to before I would dare step out in public, fearing I had made an obvious blunder.

Growing up I never liked to wear brightly coloured makeup on my face on Halloween and I never got my face painted at a carnival. I didn’t like the smell and the feeling of the thick paint on my cheeks. I was a sensitive child, if not overly so. Was it just me being silly or was it something more?

Even when I was older I did not long to wear makeup like the other girls. I would stand by my friend’s locker in the ninth grade, each and every morning while she applied all that makeup before class. I had no interest in following suit. I supposed if the boys didn’t like me for that I would have to make due, or that is what I told myself at the time, but was it about the boys at all or is it only us women who care? The question baffled me as a teenager and still does to this day.

I wore makeup when I would attend a wedding and my sister would apply it for me. I knew better, but I couldn’t help picturing myself as a clown with dark colour covering everywhere and I felt uncomfortable and awkward. My eyes would itch and tear. I just didn’t get it (clowns having always scared me).

I know why women wear it and I too have the urge, sometimes, to be one of them and to do what they do. I know it is permeated in our feminine culture to want to look our best and I want the same. I stopped doing it, in the end, because I couldn’t be bothered. I told myself it was vanity anyway and I didn’t need that, but I understand it still.

I sometimes think it sad that we are so desperate to cover up every blotch, blemish, and freckle. I wish my fellow women did not have to feel like they were less than perfect, but it is the reality we live in in today’s society.

I’ve heard that guys don’t like girls to wear too much makeup, but I do believe all things in moderation can’t possibly be bad. I sometimes wonder how many hours, a woman spends over her lifetime, putting on her makeup. I know there could be other things to do with that time, but peace of mind is a small price to pay I suppose.

It’s hard to not have a clear idea of what you look like. Every day, morning and night, I look into a mirror I see less and less of myself. I begin to forget what my own face looks like, staring back at me still. I know I am in there somewhere, but I feel a disconnect. This makes it easier and harder, all at once, to do the things that most women do to look their best. I can’t ever get a good idea what I might look like and this often causes feelings of doubt in my physical worth as a woman. I am left to my imagination to picture what I look like. Sometimes what we imagine is worse than the truth (the clown in my mind’s eye). I have only my memories and vivid imagination for my daily reassurance.

I love colour and miss it. I love fashion especially and wish I had the money for a huge wardrobe to choose from. I feel my best when I am wearing something I love. This helps me to understand why makeup matters so much to women. I can’t possibly use the word “vanity” without putting that title back onto myself. I care just as much. Self image and body image are so very intertwined. I know there is nothing wrong with the confidence which comes from the things we do to attain it.

Sometimes I work so hard to recall what a bright blue or a striking red look like. I listen to a fashion show and the descriptions of the outfits and I strain to remember what, visually, that would appear as.

Other times my memories of the colours I love are as sharp in recollection as they were when I saw their beauty with my own eyes.

All of this adds up to my stance on fashion and beauty. Do I think we care too much and let it rule our lives in all the wrong ways? Yes. Do I wish we valued a little more of the substantial and a little less of the irrelevant? Yes because I know we all grow old in the end.

Do I want to be just like every other woman and to look my best for myself and for others? Of course I do. I long for all of this.

The image of a blind girl who has no interest in looking presentable is one of Helen Keller as a child, before she was taught decorum. In the film adaptation of her life she is seen with tangled dirty hair and dishevelled clothes. This is an extreme example of course, but I don’t know what most people think of when they think of blind people and all these things.

We care about our hair, nails, skin, and clothes just like everyone else. I could write a whole other post about my hair and I will, but this weekend I wanted to focus on fashion and makeup specifically.

Coming up tomorrow I feature a woman who is doing her part to dispel myths and to help blind women feel better about their appearances and themselves as beautiful women. I will be partnering the interview I did with her about the work she is doing with my view on the subject today. I hope you will check it out.

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