EmpoweredByErica

To Empower: to invest with power; to give or delegate power; to enable; to give ability

We can do it!

Yes we can!

Some of you may be monitoring the media war over “true photos” and the extreme use of photoshop in our magazines. Fourteen year old Julia Bluhm created a protest on Change.org for Seventeen Magazine to not use Photoshop for just 1 picture per issue. They responded with a stern no. Then the Miss Representation staff created a campaign where women and girls were encouraged to Tweet #KeepItReal to different magazines, asking for just 1 picture per issue to be naturally unphotoshopped.

Check the waist, booty and legs.

Seventeen magazine responded by saying they wouldn’t Photoshop and they would portray “real” girls. Yay! One triumph to celebrate! This is a great way to kick-off the media war over the accurate portrayal of girls and women. However, the war is not yet won.

Many professionals from the Miss Representation team, Spark Summit, and other organizations dedicated to the mission give examples in the media, magazines and film that do not adhere to their wants. Women are not only being portrayed inaccurately but are being hyper-sexualized. Examples include ads such as this:

Uhm..Is this targeted towards men? I can’t tell?

Or this

Women dominated show…Wants men viewers? uh duh

And this

This is actually disturbing. He’s holding her down? Cannot compute

Or how about this

Lynx covers the face but exposes her bosoms

Okay that’s it for now.

But we can see just a few examples of how women are over-sexualized in the media to target men, in order to sell products. Harmless right?

WrongMost women cannot describe themselves as beautiful. The statistics used to be that only 2% of women can label themselves as beautiful. And why is it that eating disorders, and self-identity disorders are most associated with women? Could it possibly be that our advertising, our movies, ads, pictures, and media are reaching to young girls? Indeed, it is. 

Many groups are trying to change how the media operates, how to change viewpoints, and to sacrifice advertising savvy to better our nations’ women. It’s a tough job. After looking at the efforts being strived for, I had to question the role of the performers. Ya know, the people who have their pictures taken in these ads and the actresses in films today,

As a previous teenage actress wannabe, I probably would have done what I needed to do to get a job. Performers are put in the position where they have to do what the job entails in order to get paid and make a living. We cannot tell them to stop working “for the cause”. Plus what if they don’t know about the cause, or they don’t want to know for fear of cognitive dissonance.

This thought on the roles the performers play leads me to another thought. Is there any organization that dedicates their ability to empowering and educating celebrities on this “media war”? Do most of them know of it and if so, do they care? Particularly the more famous celebrities. I would love to see them use their position of power to influence our youth. Or to deny photoshopping and photo manipulation when posing for magazines like some of these celebrities. I believe an ad campaign of current celebrities sending their personal messages of empowerment and self-worth would be phenomenal for viewers.

Of course efforts need to be targeted towards the people in power who design and carry out the ads. They of course should come down from their high horse and look around at the damage. However, if everyone played a role, the performers and the editors alike, even in small ways, this war could be won.

In diagnosing people for disorders, we must look at the root cause. I believe dissatisfaction with oneself and body is a root cause for many issues and if we can dampen it so more than 2% of women believe their beautiful, then perhaps we can lessen the number of people who turn to unhealthy practices. Such as alcohol and drugs, self-mutilation and self-hate, eating disorders, and the belief that we must be perfect. If we can target a root cause, then the others problems will fall like dominoes.

The last point to be made about this issue is that its not just benefitting women. How about the issues facing men? Well, if we can stop hyper sexualizing women, then men won’t assume that every women looks like Heidi Klum or has breasts like porn stars. And if they don’t assume that, then perhaps it could factor into more stable relationships and less divorce (Currently 50% of marriages end in divorce). And if that works than perhaps we can get rid of the idea that men must be macho and drink beer and sleep with as many women as possible, and not show emotion. Perhaps there can be less anxiety over all things and life can be grand.

Hopefully, viewpoints are changed and these problems end. The moral of the story is 

You Are Beautiful

And we must educate ourselves and others to stop this mess we have gotten ourselves in. Ask celebrities to make good choices for you, after all they are supported by their fans. Write to companies to have them change their advertising. Dispel gender norms. Write about it, tweet and post about it. This can be changed so everyone is benefitted! We can do it!

EmpoweredbyErica

It takes more than bravery to listen carefully

Brave, the movie

So, I have seen Brave twice now (I find it my duty as a stubborn redhead), and took note of the lessons to be learned from this movie. It teaches us how to admit to our faults and say “I’m sorry”, while also teaching us to be deliberate with all of our actions. However, I think one of the most important lessons from this beautiful movie, is the Art of Listening.

I have to call it “The Art of Listening” because it truly is a skill, an art, and something that every person should/ may be forced to work on at some point in their life. I learned the art when I lost a dear friend because I didn’t know how to fully engage in a conversation, and I didn’t pay attention to what they said because in a moment of panic I thought about what I would say next.

Spoiler Alert: Now, Merida does not wish to get married, while her mother has already arranged how they will choose a husband for her. Merida, being the fiery, stubborn redhead she is will not stand for this and thus doesn’t hear what her mother is trying to say; while her mother, being the Queen with duties to fulfill, doesn’t hear what her daughter says. And thus all this lack of listening creates a recipe for disaster, which I won’t spill.

We have a communication failure due to a lack of listening, and understanding.

The Art of Listening

Listening is about We, so must push our “Me” thoughts out to create…We!

Listening is hard, there is no denying that. We can get by in our day-to-day monotonous lives without the knowledge of how to listen well, but when it comes to the serious stuff, we must know how to properly listen. We must teach ourselves how to handle panicky situations on the inside so we don’t rush our minds and not listen to what the other person is trying to say. It’s easy and natural to think carefully about what you’re going to say while a friend, significant other, or family member is having a serious and/or emotional chat with you. However, while you are choosing your words carefully you miss the opportunity to listen to them.

Blocking listening can happen for many reasons, and sometimes its a mixture of reasons:

  • Trying to think ahead of what we’ll say
  • Trying to think of anything to say to contribute to the conversation
  • We want to fix the problem immediately so we offer advice, without listening to see if they actually want advice or they just need to vent
  • Panicking about the silence, because we don’t know what to say

There are a whole slew of reasons of why we aren’t programmed to listen. However, we must learn if we wish to have healthy relationships with others. By not learning the art of listening we sacrifice empathy and intimacy.

Another problem we have, while Merida doesn’t, is technology. We spend so much time communicating with others while with friends that it is probable that we are not listening to our present friends. In an article by Psychology Today titled, “Bringing Back Meaningful Conversation” an MIT professor says  “Over and over in my interviews, I hear teens talking about not getting ‘full attention’ from others…What they are nostalgic for is not a technology but a person who was there, just for you.”

Let’s return to Merida and her mother. Both of them had motivations behind their wants and thus remained stubbornly on their own side. If they wanted to effectively communicate and come to a consensus without all hell breaking loose then I would have advised them to look at the list of ways to Listen more effectively.

Merida Not Listening…

1. Pay Attention- Our brains are able to process 275 more words per minute than are actually spoken, and we actually fill the void with other thoughts, thus not allowing us to pay attention. Try looking at them while they speak and make an effort to listen. If it helps you can:

2. Confirm Information- Sometimes, when people are upset or drop a lot of information on us, we feel as though we can’t process the information. This is a good time to verbally confirm with your friend/partner what they had said. Not only does it help us listeners pay attention, but it says to your friend/partner that you are actually listening or at least trying.

3. Show Interest and Be Receptive- Try to be interested in the topic. Not only does this increase the likelihood that we will pay attention, but it also shows your friend that you care and thus builds trust and empathy. Being receptive refers to adding meaningful information to the conversation. If you are truly listening and your friend keeps dodging your ideas on how to fix it, then it would seem that they just want to vent, so let them vent. Silence is not a bad thing. In fact, when people are dealing with hardships they may need a break to think and allowing them to do so may be good. 

4. Study Your Listening Skills- I know this almost seems like counterproductive to listening, but it is always good to notice what you do. What we do and think we do do not always match up. It is important to notice how you respond to emotional situations so you can improve it and be the best listener ever. 

Learning to properly listen comes in handy everywhere, especially if you’re ever in a leadership position. Good leaders listen to their followers to create a more enjoyable environment. This is a necessary skill. Thus the moral of the story is Merida and her mother should have had another daughter, named Erica, to help them not fall into their trap. However, if they hadn’t they wouldn’t have learned all the valuable lessons and I wouldn’t have seen the movie twice.

I leave you now with some reading on “The Art of Listening” as well as a song by Birdy, used in Brave called “Learn Me Right . Its quite empowering if I may say so maself!

I hope you were EmpoweredByErica to use listening techniques!

A Proposed Mission Statement for this Bloggyblog

You may have noticed that I make up words, combine words, type as if I am talking to a baby/kitten/animal, or add “y”‘s to the end of some words. I actually talk like this, and I figure that if I am going to maintain a blog written by me then it should have my characteristics. That’s my view and I am sticking to it because I am me (Check Willow Smith‘s new song- “I am me”. Totally stuck in my head)

I am going to display some of the core values and goals, such as the mission statement in my handy dandy poopoobook! This book is actually made out of Elephant Poo, and is decorated with a Giraffe’s pattern. My Mission statement, until further notice, is available.

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My Mission Statement. Handwritten so you know I’m human

PooPoo Book

Mission of EmpoweredByErica

To promote and empower social change among women and men by demystifying gender norms, educating my friends, and provoking thought in order to improve quality of life and boost self-confidence.

There it is for now. I’ll keep working and try to post as often as possible. I am ready to make some changes to this here world. So, Here I go!

EmpoweredByErica

Shazam!

I haz blog!

Image

[Attempting to catch your eye with my bathroom wallpaper]

 

I just birthed this blog and decided I would wait to post anything, yet here I am feeling compelled to do so. I figured that before officially organizing and finishing this blog I would like to share what empowers me, what drives me, why I am crazy enough to think that I could create and support a blog, and why I find my idea interesting.

Here we go, friends!

1. What empowers me?

Lets review: To Empower means to invest with power, to give power, to enable, to give ability to.  It is a sharing of power, where one thing gives over power in order to accomplish a goal. Power is a driving force that gets goals and ideas accomplished. But, how to we get this power? Who gives it to us? Are we able to acquire such power without other people, experiences and places. No. Because we are who we are through how we grew up, what food we ate, how we were treated, whether we read Harry Potter, or traveled or never left our town. Our lives are archives of our own unique set of experiences. Therefore, each person has an amount of power depending on how many people listen to them, how much they are paid, who works for them or doesn’t, their status and education. Our society builds and constructs the checklist for gaining power so that some people seem to have a lot of power, while the average Jane and Joe may not feel as though they have power. And what do we do when we feel powerless? We give in to the fads and what’s new and let the water take us downstream. We follow those with power because we may feel ourselves inadequate to lead. We give our power away.

Some people live easily and happily in this way. However, when those in power try to tell those without power that there is something wrong with them, or that they need help, or that all they need to do is pay $99 for this product to make those without power seem equal to those with power, then we are scammed and guided blindly away from our power. Like a blind person being led slowly into really cold, evil, shark-infested waters.

Empowerment: to invest with power; to give or delegate power; to enable; to give ability.

I want to give the power back to the followers of this world.

I want my fellow human beings to be comfortable with who they are, what they do, feel and think.

I want the power to be redistributed. 

So, What empowers me? That’s a loaded question. What invests its power in me, or gives me the ability to do what I am planning to do with this blog?

You.

Your sister, brother, parents, husband, wife, friends, cousins.

Anyone who has a story.

I am empowered by the stories I have within me of other people. I hold wonderful, exciting, gruesome, sad, disgusting, lovely, empathetic, gentle, loving, stories. I have people and knowledge in my noggin that gives me the power (or at least the guts!) to create this blog and try to share it. I may also, possibly be fueled by my red hair. It has magic, I’m pretty sure.

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Disclaimer: This is a doll. With fabulous hair.

I think that about answers the questions for now. My blog is fueled by this idea, but it incorporates many ideas. I’ll go over those ideas in another post and hopefully come to a solid mission. For now, my friends, I leave you with a quote.

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”

Alice Walker

I hope you were a at least teensy bit EmpoweredByErica.

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