Friday, October 23, 2009

G is 4 Girl Spotlight: Reel Grrls

There's a cool organization based in Seattle that tries to empower girls through the use of a camera. They're called Reel Grrls and the effects of what they're doing appears to have 'reel' staying power.

According to their site, by the time a girl is 16, she'll have spent more time watching t.v. than going to school. Part of what a girl sees each year are thousands of commercials that don't portray women in a very realistic, or even healthy, way. This bombardment of images of perfect, runway model-like women has been proven to have an impact on girls' self-esteem and body image. What Reel Grrls is trying to do is open a discussion with girls about how what they see on t.v. effects them, while giving them the tools they need to create their own media. As they put it, Reel Grrls "if women and girls are to achieve equality and advancement in today's world they must be taught to be media literate." Right on!

Since 2001, they've been helping girls learn how to produce their own videos in after school programs taught by female media professionals. Their DVDs, which are available on their site for purchase, cover a wide-range of topics affecting their young, female filmmakers. Subjects such as body image, violence against women, race, parents with addictions and many more bring to light the opinions and experiences of the filmmakers in an engaging way. The organization has received much praise for their work and the girls' films have been shown at film festivals around the world, including the Sundance Film Festival-Gen-Y studio.

Just today, my hometown paper the Chicago Tribune ran a story about three refugee teens from Africa who made a video about the violence and alienation they've been facing in their adopted home, Chicago. In some cases, it's a kind of violence they never witnessed nor feared in their home countries. You can read about it here. Sponsored by software maker Adobe, they made a documentary that helped to empower them in situations where they felt there was very little they could do. Visual media can be powerful; it's great that there are organizations willing to give youth a chance to make their opinions and voices heard. By doing so, they will make a difference!

If it's true what they say: a picture tells a thousand words, imagine what a film can do. So good work Reel Grrls! You go grrls!

To learn more about Reel Grrls, visit their site at

'Til next time,

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Commercialization of the Pink Ribbon

Everyone's seeing pink these days: pink soup cans, pink yogurt containers, even NFL players donning pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The cause of finding a cure and promoting breast cancer prevention is a worthy one, since so many lives have been and are affected by the disease.

However, the motives of companies promoting the pink ribbon have come into question: sure, a portion of a pink product's profits might be donated to organizations fighting breast cancer, but why do companies "go pink?" Is it purely for charitable reasons? Or does the company have profits in mind as well?

Before I started reading articles such as this eye-opening one from Newsweek called "Seeing Red in Pink Products," by Joan Raymond, I didn't think much about the commercialization of breast cancer awareness. I didn't even explore my own motives in trying to promote prevention awareness.

You see, as part of this blog, I posted an entry on Oct. 1st, about Breast Cancer Awareness month and what women can do to prevent the disease. I also stuck a pink ribbon on the G is 4 Girl Twitter avatar. This blog and our Twitter account are both tied-in to my company, G is 4 Girl. So why am I doing this? Why is G is 4 Girl mentioning Breast Cancer Awareness? I thought it was just something nice to do. I have an aunt who died from the disease two years ago. I'd like to see all cancers eradicated. But by associating G is 4 Girl with a pink ribbon, was I trying to elevate the status of our company by promoting this cause?

I'm not sure. Maybe subliminally, I was. Then again, we are a small biz run out of my house, not Yoplait or Ford. I just wrote a blog about breast cancer prevention because I really do care about my readers and wanted to give them some tips on prevention.

But what about the big corporations? If a portion of the proceeds go to a charitable organization, exactly how much and what about the rest? Has breast cancer awareness become a really great marketing tool? Are we consumers being guilted into buying something that comes in a pink box over a non-pink box? Are companies using the pink ribbons purely to raise their public profiles and the philanthropic aspects are simply an added bonus? Then again, is any harm being done? If a few cents per purchase goes to a charity, it's still two cents that might not have gone to the charity if there hadn't been a promotion.

There's a non-profit organization, Think Before You Pink, that takes the pink-promoting companies to task. If they find a product that's promoting cancer awareness while also being a product that contains carcinogens (such as alcoholic beverages), then they go after them. It's an interesting site to explore and will raise your awareness about those companies who say their trying to raise your awareness about a cause. They also have a great page on the history of the pink ribbon, started by one woman as a grassroots campaign to raise prevention awareness.

'Til next time,

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate? That's this season's question!

As if we parents don't have enough to stress about...

The buzz these days is all about the Swine Flu: in the media, on blogs and Twitter, in phone calls and emails to and from friends and family. Will you vaccinate your child or not? What's everyone doing? What's your pediatrician recommending?

The answer is complicated and at times, a mixed bag. The government recommends shots for kids aged 6 months to 24 years old, for pregnant women and adults under age 64 with chronic illnesses. I have a friend who is a healthcare worker for whom the H1N1 vaccination is mandatory. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends vaccinating too, for both H1N1 and the "regular" flu. (Click here to view their very helpful info page on the subject). But I know a number of parents who are unsure of the Swine Flu vaccine, since the vaccine being offered is new to the market.

For parents these days, it seems we have a lot to stress about. The modern world presents us with a myriad of problems to fuss over and freak out about, the Swine flu being just one of them.

I was voicing this complaint to my mother recently who agreed that there is a lot more information to process these days than when she was mothering a school-aged kid. The internet and t.v. provides so much news on various topics relating to kids that sometimes it's difficult to sort through the noise and find a voice to trust. However, she reminded me that the past wasn't without worry.

When she was a child, Polio was the great fear. She remembered that during one summer, all public swimming pools in Chicago were closed for fear of spreading the disease. Fortunately, a vaccine changed all that, but not until far too many children were affected by it. An older client of mine has difficultly walking as a result of his bout with the disease as a child. The visible scars and memories remain.

So where does that leave us today? It's up to each of us parents to make our own informed decisions about vaccinations and in some cases, to follow our instincts. For me and my husband: we're still trying to decide about the H1N1 vaccine for our child, though we're leaning toward it. We're currently trying hard to get her a regular flu vaccine, but have been told there's a shortage in our area for kids under age three, due to a manufacturer problem.

For a quick guide for parents, check out this PDF from the Centers for Disease Control. For a very comprehensive guide to the flu, take a look at the Centers for Disease Control web site,

Good luck!

Monday, October 12, 2009

G is 4 Girl Giveaway! Positive-ly Cool School Pak!

In a partnership with the blog Lipstick to Crayons, we're having a fabulous giveaway!!!

It's a trio of items that comprise our "Positive-ly Cool School Pak:" a Sm;)e tee, our "Girls are A-Mazing" bag and a "G is 4..." blank lined journal! Great gifts to help motivate any school-aged girl to do her best and feel good about herself!

At G is 4 Girl, our goal is to create products for girls that are both fun to wear & use and that are empowering! We have almost 30 different designs and a wide-range of products from tees and hoodies to SIGG water bottles and bears! You can check out our full line at our site,

You can enter our giveaway HERE at the Lipstick to Crayons blog. Last chance to enter is October 19th. Good Luck!