Friday, March 25, 2016

The Importance Of Integrating The Arts In Academic Classrooms

March is National Music In Our Schools month, and I haven't seen a single teacher celebrate it. So I will, and by the end of this post, I hope to see you celebrating it too. We've all heard the rumors about how music and other aspects of the performing arts make young children more intelligent, more talented, more social, and more well rounded. And those rumors are true, but no one seems to understand why. 

Raised in quite the artistic family, the importance of arts integration in the classroom has always been of personal importance to me. My dad was a band director and percussionist, so I began piano lessons at an early age. Then came the dance classes, acting instruction, color guard camps, and a genuine love for theatre. These activities didn't just keep me occupied, they engaged me in math concepts, scientific kinesthetics, and historical stories I would've never otherwise been interested in.

The effects of performing arts in the educational classroom are no different.

Yes, visual art is important. But it isn't something that's often neglected, especially in early childhood and elementary classrooms. It adds an extensive visual component to the curriculum, making it easier for students to grasp. For some reason, educators are quick to understand this for painting, coloring, gluing, and creating, but the performing arts (like visual arts), are a key ingredient to successful learning in the early stages of life. They should not be excluded from the lessons in our classroom.

There are eight learning styles recognized among students today; eight different "intelligences." These intelligences are used to help students understand and make sense of the world around them, influencing the way they approach and solve a problem. Most students use a combination of these eight learning styles, but one of the main problems in our education system is that these learning styles are not catered to equally. This means that a student whose learning style matches the teacher's lesson will be more successful than a student who learns a different way, and there is no quicker way to short a student of his/her own potential than refusing to teach the way that student learns.

8 Intelligences / Learning Styles 
Aka: Language. This student can utilize language and words effectively to express their thoughts, ideas, and feelings. These students usually love reading and class discussions. They will likely grow up to be writers, bloggers, journalists, or authors.

Aka: Mathematical and scientific. These students rely on sound reasoning, structure, proof, and inductive thinking to understand. These students require formulas and fool-proof instructions. They love lists, planning, and organized activities.

Aka: Visual. They have to see it to believe it. Spatial learners are generally very abstract. They learn fractions with pizza instead of with numbers. They probably still count on their fingers, even if they know the numerical value. A common misconception is that spatial learners are very good at visual art because it is visual and abstract. The truth is that spatial learners are successful in any subject, as long as they are able to visualize the concept in a physical and realistic scenario.

Aka: Experiential. Naturalistic learners have an overwhelming awareness and sensitivity towards the world around them, and all the people in it. The more real-life application you can give these students, the more likely they are to understand. If you want to teach percentages, teach them how to leave a tip. If you want to teach persuasive writing, have them construct a letter. They like to know that what they are learning is real, applicable, and valuable to their life outside the classroom.

Aka: Social. These students have the ability to interact effectively and successfully with others. Interpersonal learners thoroughly enjoy working in groups or with a partner.

Aka: Individualistic. Intrapersonal students have a firm grasp of their own interests, personality, and skill level. They are generally self-motivated, and prefer to work alone at their desk rather than with another student.

Aka: The I-Need-Movement squad. This one of the two majorly neglected learning styles. Kinesthetic learners like to move around the classroom, work with their hands, and involve all five senses. They like to be thoroughly involved. From the moment students enter academic schooling, they are told to sit down, be quiet, and listen to the teacher. Nothing frustrates these students faster because they physically can't. These are the students now labeled with ADHD. Some have been emotionally, medically, and realistically diagnosed, and teachers are prepared to help these students out. But many students who are told they are ADHD don't actually have it at all. They are simply denied their primary learning style in the classroom, fueling all kinds of behavior issues that students, parents, and doctors are left cleaning up after. And it's not their fault.

Aka: Music. This is the other majorly neglected learning style. The main misconception of this learning style is that these students are able to remember what the teacher said strictly because they heard it. Part of this is true. Auditory learners pick up cues to help them recognize and remember patterns in a lesson or lecture, but you have to meet them halfway. They won't remember every word unless you give them a reason to. Songs, poems, rhythmic rhymes, and acronyms will be this student's best friend. Ever wondered why you can't remember a single thing for your biology final but you can remember the words to every song on the radio? Music aids memory.

We tend to teach toward linguistic, logical, and spatial learners. We involve naturalistic learners by explaining how they might use the lesson in real life, and we differentiate activities for interpersonal and interpersonal learners. But auditory and kinesthetic learners are left out, labeled and misdiagnosed with behavioral problems and mental issues, while being inaccurately placed in remedial programs. They are not stupid. They are not a basket case. They are creative. 

We cannot deny these students of what they need to learn. And who knows? By integrating arts into the curriculum, the classroom will inevitably become more lively and fun for students and teachers alike. This is especially seen in early childhood classrooms.

Integrating Music
Music is the learning strategy that develops the earliest: in the womb. Before an infant is even born, they have moved and developed accustomed to the steady beat of their mother's heart. As they grow, music knowledge expands into larger creative realms, as they learn to move, listen, sing, and create. By denying music early on, we also deny creative students the opportunity to use their skills. By my own personal experience, nothing will make them feel more inadequate than being treated as though they are stupid when they are simply more complex than their teacher.

Music is so effective in early childhood education because it is directly related to primal instincts. Human bodies automatically react physically to musical stimuli (foot-tapping, swaying, head nodding, etc.), proving that young children respond more quickly and effectively to musical practices. Singing, clapping, and rhythmic imitation keeps children engaged and supplies a natural and comfortable transition to learning basic concepts.

Music is, in its rawest form, an artistic version of math. Keeping a steady beat, rhythm, melody, and tempo teach patterns, sequencing, counting, one-to-one correspondence, and even fractions. Music also aids in literacy development by teaching rhyme, syllabic structure, and comprehensive strategies through memory, concentration, and abstract concepts. It can also be found in word recognition, sentence structure, context clues, and phonemic awareness activities. Music is an exceptional vehicle of learning, allowing teachers to meet the needs of students with various interests, learning styles, and skill levels, if they would simply choose to do so.

Music brings order to disorder. It allows an instructor to teach so many concept with little/no materials. Just as an infant is often calmed by the musical voice of their caregiver, music is instinctively familiar to young children, proving it effective as a primary learning tool. Of course, music should not be used exclusively, but when incorporated with symbolic play and instructional input, music can enhance lessons in unexpected ways. Music instruction should not be left solely to the music teacher.

Integrating Creative Dramatics
Children process the world differently than adults do, and need academic material to be presented in familiar ways. Creative dramatics is another useful (and neglected) strategy for teaching pedagogical concepts. Young children rely on play, emotion, and imagination to explore and understand their world. Dramatic play allows exactly that. Not only does it allow students to grasp concepts in a way they can understand, but also provides them a kinesthetic and emotional outlet to literally interact with a concept, character, or idea. It can enhance students' comprehension of a text, promote language development and vocabulary growth, stimulate critical thinking, and foster high level cognitive processes. By utilizing multiple forms of intelligence, creative dramatics enables students to think out loud through movement, organize information, interpret ideas, create new thoughts/opinions, and interact cooperatively with others. It gives them a sense of ownership over their learning. This is especially useful for language arts and literacy lessons, though public speaking skills and creative brainstorming are also used frequently.

This doesn't just have to be a dramatic play center. This can be readers theatre, acting out mathematical word problems, or presenting a story to the class using mime or a short script. Drama can be incorporated into almost any lesson, providing structure, open-mindedness, conceptual and social feed back, and an environment where students feel free and safe to construct their own ideas (no matter how basic or irrational they might be). It also allows students a medium to express themselves and their lives outside of the classroom when they might not have another way to do so. Students will learn the importance and power of their own voice, body, imagination, and the ability to work with others, generating self-confidence and classroom community. Creative dramatics in the academic classroom fully engages students of all interests, learning styles, and skill levels by supplying logical, visual, kinesthetic, and creative components to foster learning.

Integrating Movement
No, I don't mean for you to assign an interpretive dance project after reading a story aloud. I don't even mean dance, specifically. Creative movement is a very broad, very general category, and it's hardly even mentioned in classrooms anymore. In daycare classes, you see kids marching, stomping, hopping, skipping, and galloping. You see nothing of the sort in academic classrooms unless you're on duty for their 15-minute recess they get once a day.

Kinesthetic learners need a lot more than 15 minutes per day of maximum learning.

I'd like to think that kinesthetic students learn more in the classroom than they do at recess, but I'm not really sure that's the case. After all, in class we just tell them to sit down and be quiet when movement can be an incredibly useful tool in classroom education.

Perhaps the most obvious skill developed through movement is self-control, as students learn the boundaries of their own bodies and actions. They are able to experiment with energy, time, space, and flexibility. There are obstacles to teaching with movement, of course: like finding adequate space in the classroom, accommodating students with special needs, etc., but once the obstacles have been hurdled, it proves to be worth the struggle. Nothing will involve young students like letting them work freely and constructively.

Creative movement gives children the opportunity to expend that extra energy while helping them learn that there can be more than one solution to a problem or task. I can't count the number of studies that have proven kinesthetically involved students were more likely to remember information than those who were idle. And yet, we still refuse to acknowledge the statistics. Movement isn't simply to promote exercise and healthy lifestyles. It is crucial in developing social, emotional, physical, and creative components necessary to further learning.

Music should not be left to the music teacher. Drama should not be left to the drama teacher. Movement should not be left to the P.E. teacher, especially when it is all so valuable for complete and conclusive learning. It is up to every teacher in the building to provide these crucial components. It is up to us.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

MYTHBUSTERS: Early Childhood Education Is Easy

Every education major has heard it at some point: the education-is-the-easiest-degree-on-campus slogan. The its-the-easy-way-out-of-a-career-and-get-summers-off accusation. Every education major also knows these statements to be false, but startled by recent events, it has come to my attention that even some other education majors make fun of early childhood majors, claiming that our degree is too easy.

I was enraged. 

I'm sorry that we have more fun than students in other majors. I'm sorry that we don't believe in tests (because they don't prove much, if anything), and that we get to color and craft and act like four year olds while others are presenting a lesson. I'm also sorry that we train children in academics while they're learning to hold a spoon. I'm sorry that elementary educators teach reading and writing while early childhood educators teach children to walk, speak, resolve conflicts, read, write, and count all at the same time. I'm sorry that we dodge flying toys and change messy diapers amidst it all. 

I'm sorry that I'm about to prove your misconceptions wrong. 

I'm not saying other programs are easy, because I know they aren't. But I'm not going to say they're any more difficult than early childhood, because I firmly believe it could be the other way around. 

There are thousands of misconceptions about early childhood educators from education majors and non-education majors alike, but there are five that have begun to stand out before I've even completed my degree. Here are my thoughts on all of them. 

Your degree program is too easy.
Ha!! False. Yes, we color. Yes, we sing. We also evaluate for fine motor skills, gross motor development, social skills, conflict resolution, cognitive processing, and speech development. Oh, and then we teach them how to read and write. 

Say we're teaching our students how to count. After all, that's an easy lesson for our easy degree. Our kids are young. When we design lesson plans, our goal is to keep our wild kiddos focused, engaged, and willing to learn. Before we even design a lesson, we have informally assessed everything each student already knows, needs to know, and still struggles with from the last lesson. We look into each child's home life, determining how their family is meeting the basic needs of child development, and examining how it affects their life in the classroom. We research and learn about each student's culture so that we can understand why they might say, do, or react the way they do in the classroom. Then we differentiate the counting lesson accordingly to cater every student's need. 

If the student still isn't succeeding, we examine further. Do they need a reading specialist? What about a speech therapist? Are they acting out because of a traumatic situation at home, or are they actually gifted and just bored out of their mind? Do they really belong in that remedial group or do they need medication to help them focus so they can learn? Or do you need to fill out the paperwork and attend the meetings for a Special Education referral? Call it a diagnosis, if you will. We are way more than mere Crayola Queens. If I turned you loose in a classroom tomorrow and told you to teach my kids their sight words, would you know enough about them to succeed? Do you know enough about classroom management to keep them all engaged? Do you even know what a sight word is? 

You don't have extensive training in reading, math, or curriculum development. 
False. We have more. 

At Missouri State, we take two years of general education courses to be followed by a total of four reading classes (three of which have field experience), two full math methods courses, social students courses related to teaching content and necessary social skills, and numerous science courses focusing on experiential learning and experimentation. We also take child development courses, nutrition, arts integration, multi-cultural diversity, family involvement, and an intro course in speech pathology so we are prepared with the tools to help all our students when they are unable to pinpoint why they are struggling with reading, writing, or math. 

You're just babysitters. 
Um...false. We're teachers. Please reread the categories above. 

There are too many of you.
Again, false. It is overwhelming how false that is. Are you aware that there are over 200 elementary education students each year at Missouri State (and even more in the complete education program), when only a handful of students are admitted (yes, admitted, meaning we took a test, filled out an application, wrote an essay, etc.) to the early childhood education program? Missouri State University's early childhood undergraduate program is highly selective, and significantly smaller than any other education program at the university. I did a little research and also found that there are way more elementary graduates than there are jobs available in the immediate area, whereas the early childhood education program has a 90% placement rate after graduation. 

Most early childhood programs aren't even offered as an undergraduate degree because the plan is so involved. Early childhood majors are half a child development major and half an elementary education major; just a little less than a double major, which is why our degree program doesn't require a minor or an emphasis. Most universities don't even offer an early childhood program until graduate school. 

You don't take care of behavior issues quickly. 
True! One that I agree with! We don't take care of behavior issues quickly, but we take care of them permanently. When behavior issues arise, many educators are trained to examine the behavior itself, but early childhood educators value development over education. Therefore, we look at what's causing the behavior rather than the behavior itself. If we can fix the cause of the behavior, the behavior will fix itself. For example, if a child bites or hits another child, most teachers would instruct them to say sorry, write a note to the parent, and move on with the day. An early childhood educator would lead the young student in the whole cognitive process, starting with "look at the tears on his face," and "how much do you think that hurt him?" This would be followed by "what are your ideas to fix this problem?" It sounds stupid and ineffective, but it is so much more than telling the student to "use their words." It is the most basic form of educating students to take care of their own problems and disputes without requesting the interference of authority. After the conflict resolution process has been completed, an early childhood educator would then consider the child's situation individually, socially, and economically, gathering information and resources to target and resolve the root of the issue. 

Suddenly, our job has become rather complicated, has it not? 

This post was somewhat therapeutic, as I am sick and tired of being told my degree is stupid and easy. But this post is more than that. It's not a complaint about being under-appreciated. It's alerting those who care enough to listen about how absolutely offensive and ridiculous it is to diminish the intelligence and worth of a person who will be teaching your future children everything they need to know. You might think our job is easy now, but someday, we'll be loving and educating your little prince or princess, and suddenly, it will become one of the most important jobs in the world. 

So teach on, Crayola Queens. You are molding our future generation. 
Got your own myth about educators? I'd love to prove it wrong! Drop it in the comments or shoot me an email to have it featured. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Dolls with Disabilities

We have more exciting news in toy land today! At the beginning of the month I was pleased to report in Limiting the Impossible that the new barbie is expanding its horizons and presenting dolls of multiple shapes, sizes, styles, and ethnicities. There is nothing more near and dear to my heart than the promotion of healthy, diverse toys for young children to play with. There aren't words to explain how important it is for children to have dolls they relate to, and the recent Toy Like Me campaign did just that. The viral movement began as deaf moms challenged designers to make more inclusive toys for their children. Soon, millions of parents and teachers worldwide were sharing stories and photos of their homemade dolls to create their own customizable, realistic, and relatable toys for their children and students.

British toymaker Makies loved the idea, and jumped on the trend to release their own line of similar dolls. Originally, Makies was known for customizable options much like American Girl dolls, though Makies tend to take on more of a Barbie design. You could choose facial features, hair color, outfits, etc., but the new line of Makies dolls added another area of customization.

Now with glasses, hearing aids, walking canes, and more, dolls can be customized to also match the disability of the toy owner. Using their famous 3-D printers, they can even mimic a child's facial birthmarks so the doll will match. Talk about having a doll that looks like you! The line will soon expand to include wheelchairs, and Makies designers are already looking into what features they will include next.

The dolls are as expensive as any other doll designed to look just like your child, but the disability featured dolls are no more expensive than dolls without the disability features. Makies has also challenged other toy companies via twitter to follow in their footsteps, helping young children feel a lot more special and a lot less different.

Makies are currently moving to America. But once they complete this transition, their services will be available again with even more options! To make your own Makie doll for you or your child, visit their website at For more information, you can contact them through their Facebook Page: Official Makies.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Conquering the Denim Deficiency

I had two goals over spring break: sleep late, and find a pair of jeans that fit. Sleeping late was no problem. Finding jeans, however, has always been a challenge. You see, I had jeans that fit me like a glove. But one day I woke up and looked in the mirror and noticed they had faded lines at the hips and embellishments on the back pockets, and it bothered me. I wasn't sixteen anymore. And I needed to dress accordingly.

Last week I wrote a post entitled An Open Letter To The Poor Woman Who Tried To Sell Me Jeans. It was prompted by a single shopping experience gone wrong, though I've had multiple similar experiences. My first problem was shopping in the same stores as my friends with different shapes. My second problem was letting myself believe I was a fat, repulsive outsider because I didn't look like they did, or fit into the same things they could fit in.

As dramatic as that sounds, I am not alone.

I am among thousands of curvy women who genuinely believe they are fat because they don't fit into the tight skinny jeans sold in stores and boutiques. And it couldn't be further from the truth.
After my meltdown in the jeans store, I had completely given up. It wasn't until I returned home, stripped down, and looked in the mirror that I saw the truth: I was beautiful. No, not like those girls in magazines, but I was so raw. I was real. I had a sweet, feminine waist with sassy hips to go with it. And for the first time in a long time, I felt like I had a chance.

Since given the glimmer of hope in an otherwise blackened perspective, I've been on a relentless quest to dress myself the way my body deserved to be presented. I deserved to be dressed in clothes that would compliment the shape I'd been given, rather than constrict it and distort it into something it's not. My thighs might look like sausages in skinny jeans, but they aren't fat. My underwear lines might show in straight-legged pants, but my hips aren't fat either. I'm not fat.

I'm just a woman.

So to all the women out there like me: the women who hate the girl looking back at them in the mirror, who spend way too long in the dressing room to cry, who can't find a single pair of pants to save their life; worry not. I have found a hopeful solution, because today... I found...

Notice all the jeans in the bottom of the picture that didn't work prior to the SINGLE PAIR that worked on my body. But aren't they simply gorgeous?! Look at those curves! And they're not pulling or tugging or almost ripping. 

I hate that it sounds arrogant to compliment my own body. But I will not apologize. It's not bad to be confident, and it's not bad to do a happy dance right in the middle of the dressing room (like I did prior to snapping this photo) because something looks amazing on your body. I finally found something that looked amazing. You can, too; you probably just don't know where to look. 

Bethany's Fool-Proof Suggestions for Slim, Short, Curvy Girls

This was the first store I ever shopped in that I felt like I truly belonged. Vanity is a juniors store so you'll find a lot of jeans with rhinestones and bright stitching, but they will fit you perfectly. I'll admit it isn't ideal for women trying to achieve a mature and professional look, but if you've got a curvy teenager who's beginning to feel uncomfortable in her own body... Take her to Vanity!

Back when I was transitioning from kid to teen, Levi's were loose, faded, and ulgy. I'm not sure if they got better or if I grew up. Probably a little bit of both. But now, they are stylish and preferred by every curvy woman I know. Available at various department stores (JCPenny, Kohls, etc.), Levi jeans are available in multiple colors, styles, rises, sizes, shapes, and collections. You can shop by U.S. sizes (00, 6, 12, etc.) or European sizes (first number = waist, second number = inseam). I prefer European. What the heck is a 7 "Regular" pair of jeans anyway?? 

Joe's Jeans 
They're found at Nordstrom. They're nice. They're expensive. But they fit. 'nough said. (Make sure you search Curvy fit rather than Slim Fit. **Note: That doesn't mean you're not slim. Just means you're a woman.) 
Even online, Ann Taylor jeans start from scratch. You find your fit, find your style, and then shop accordingly! You can filter your options in stores and online based on size, style, fit, and color. Your options are (almost) unlimited. 

Old Navy
Can I get a hallelujah?! I got those gorgeous knockouts pictured above right at our local Old Navy! Shop by style, color, size, and fit. They have three fits: original (thankfully not labeled slim or skinny...can I get an amen?!), curvy, and "rockstar" (supposedly good for all body shapes...we shall see). 

Got your own tips or suggestions for slim, short, curvy shoppers? Help a sister out! Drop it in the comments or shoot me an email at to have it featured. 

Happy shopping to my slim, short, curvy beauties! 

Friday, March 11, 2016

An Open Letter To The Poor Woman Who Tried To Sell Me Jeans

Retail therapy used to be the quick fix for anything. I would try on formal dresses with no occasion to wear them. I would tote handbags around the store with the price tag folded inside just to feel like I had a new purse. And the shoes! Oh, don't even get me started on the shoes. If you're like me, you know that nothing makes you feel more captivating and powerful than a beautiful shoe. I loved retail therapy. I loved shopping.

I hate it now.

I went into your store to buy jeans. And 104 pairs later I emerged from the dressing room to return them to you, and after inquiring what was wrong with them in front of a male customer, you proceeded to bring me more. More jeans that made my hips look wider. More denim that made my thighs look fatter. More materialistic items that made me feel inferior. Inadequate. Downright repulsive. 

I went into your store to buy jeans. But I left your store in tears.

I went into your store to buy jeans. But I didn't tell you I was there to buy jeans because I didn't want you to know. Because when salesladies know I'm in a store to buy jeans, they don't shut up. They don't stop bringing me things. They don't listen to what I'm saying because they've already moved on to the next pair of pants they're going to bring me. So here's the deal.

Jeans don't fit me.

By society's definition, I am the perfect woman. I have a full feminine figure with an itty-bitty waist. But I can't feel perfect because by society's standards, I'm the ugliest woman alive. I have a 29 inch inseam, and even your short jeans (or petite jeans, if you're trying not to offend) fit me like footie pajamas. If I try on a pair of jeans that fit my hips, the waistband is so huge I have to pay an extra fifteen dollars to have it taken in. If the jeans fit my waist, one of two things is wrong with the seat: it's either so tight you can see every line and crease in my underwear, or the zipper doesn't plunge low enough to even get the unforgiving denim over my butt.

You then proceeded to tell me that those were your "curvy" jeans, and offered to order me the "ultra-curvy" pair because you didn't carry that style in the store. Because nothing says "you're fat," and "you don't belong here," like "I don't even carry your size/style in the store."

Then I checked the price tag. You kept handing me 120 dollar jeans. But I'd never pay that because I have to pay an extra 50 to have them altered. Shoot, I could buy some denim and make my own stupid jeans for less than $120. That's an awful lot of money to charge someone who isn't in love with your jeans, and I don't even like them. They really aren't that special. If you can make me a pair of jeans that fit me with no required alterations, I'd drop $120 in a heartbeat. But I haven't found a store to do it yet.

You see, you label jeans that fit models "slim," when you label jeans for me "curvy." I used to think curvy was an inaccurate label; that it was the modest way to say "fat." But it isn't. Curvy is a good thing. Men like curvy. Women should, too. It's the "slim" label that's the problem, because it implies that curvy women cannot also be slim. And we believe it.

Curvy women can be slim. We are slim. And you can label us with whatever word you want, but we are stunning. 

Curvy women are true art forms. The craftsmanship of our frame and the architecture of our physique shouldn't make sense. Our weight is not distributed evenly. And you don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that scales only balance out when weight is even on both sides. Curvy women shouldn't even be able to balance. But here we are...walking, thinking, reading, dancing, running, cooking, working, and loving. We are mysterious creatures. We are extraordinary. But instead, we feel like a freak of nature. Everyone talks about how beautiful and exquisite we are, but how can we feel that way when not a single piece of fabric fits our "magnificent" body?

My waist is a size 2. And I know it is, because all my skirts are a size 2. But my jeans are a size 6-8, because that's what my hips need. I buy jeans in a size 8, take in the waist several inches, and then hem the pant legs to a 29 inch inseam. I also take in the fabric at the knee, because all my weight is carried in my hips and upper thighs, so my bootcut jeans look like straight-leg pants after the initial alteration. I need an extra alteration to give me my shape back.

I could've answered what was wrong with those jeans so you wouldn't bring me more, but I didn't have the time. You didn't either. I could've told you that my waist is too small, that my hips are too wide, that my thighs are too fat. But that would imply that there's something wrong with me. And there isn't. There isn't anything wrong with your jeans either. It's just that we aren't a good fit.

So stop bringing me more jeans. Let me find them. Let me try them on. Let me pinch them in certain areas and determine if the price tag is worth it prior to the 4 alterations I'll have to make that I don't want you to know about. Because no one knows my body better than me, and no one knows how to make me feel worse about it than everyone else.

And that's not fair to me. Because I am beautiful. 


The "Perfect" Girl In Desperate Need Of A Pair Of Pants

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Limiting the Impossible

Today I am challenged with a prompt: Something You Feel Strongly About.

Allow me to begin with a video.

No wonder our definition of beauty is so distorted. That poor woman will see that advertisement knowing that the world is seeing a woman who isn't even her. Because her hair wasn't long enough, her eyes weren't big enough, her waist wasn't thin enough, and her legs weren't long enough. So the good news is: even the models in our advertisements don't look the way we think they do. The bad news is: we believe it anyway.

I love fashion, but I hate the fashion industry. In the same way, I'm a strong supporter of beauty promotion, but despise how it is distorted in our society. More and more women are living unhealthy lifestyles to obtain the impossible image, living with eating disorders, excessive workout plans, and insecurity beyond all measure. And it starts early. It starts with the compliments we give little girls (don't we tell them they're cute before we tell them they're smart?). It starts with the unintentional support of the society we live in. It starts with us leaving our Cosmo magazines on the coffee table and the barbie dolls we give them to play with.

I can honestly say I was not bothered by the designs of barbies as a little girl. I didn't notice the dolls were unrealistically skinny until I grew a little older. But I can vouch for diversity. I always chose dolls with brown hair and olive skin tones because they looked like me. I did the same thing with the disney princesses I watched and the polly pockets I chose to play with because I related to them. And I know I'm not alone. I see it every day in my classroom with the books my students read. I see it at the daycare with the toys children choose to play with, and I see it when I babysit and watch the kiddos pick characters to be. Whether you think the dolls are mentally unhealthy for little girls is irrelevant. The reality is: diversity is important, and we need to stop society's ruthless force of the one-size-fits-all woman.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not opting for the "Fat Movement" that's really in right now, where a 500 pound woman shouldn't lose her weight because "every woman is beautiful." I think girls should be healthy. Every woman has a different talent, intelligence, and heart to offer the word, and beautiful souls need sturdy vessels. But no woman should be denied of her inner strength because she simply does not look like the girl on the cover of her favorite magazine. All throughout childhood, we were told that it was good to be smart, and kind, and strong, and unique. Why is the way we look any different?

For the first time ever, young girls will have more options in the toys they play with thanks to the Barbie company, not just in size and figure but also in race and ethnicity. The company is no longer in support of their original stick-figure design, and is channeling its efforts to promoting healthy diversity through a new line of dolls. Beginning with their 2016 Fashionistas line, the dolls will be offered in various heights, shapes, and skin tones (not to mention occupations, as barbies have previously been known for), celebrating all the differences between women today. I could not be more proud to support this movement, and look forward to watching the dolls evolve even more over time.

To learn more about the Evolution of Barbie, visit, and join in on the discussion with #TheDollEvolves.