Miss Representation

•April 11, 2011 • 1 Comment

A new documentary entitled Miss Representation focuses on two key and interrelated areas in which American women have yet to make satisfactory progress: positions of power and media portrayal. Increasing the number of women visible in each of these areas will eventually bolster women’s representation in the other.

Like what you see? Check out the scheduled screenings of Miss Representation taking place across the United States.

Uncommonly comprehensive for film promotional websites, the Miss Representation site has a plethora of fascinating and sobering facts, reading lists, and suggested actions you can take, even if you have only 10 seconds to spare.

For now, join me in supporting the Miss Representation team’s efforts on Facebook and Twitter!

Will a Cleopatra Run in 2012?

•April 7, 2011 • Leave a Comment

by Danielle, Politics & Philanthropy Contributor

I just finished reading the book Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff. It was incredibly well written,

and is much more captivating than some of the other nonfiction that covers the ancient world. Schiff does an amazing job of bringing together all of the historical sources of the time into a captivating narrative, and gives a fair representation of all parties involved.

What was most striking to me was the incredible power that Cleopatra held. She ruled, as a woman, for 22 years, during a time in which a woman in power was as unheard of as a computer in the Roman Forum. She lost a kingdom, regained it, nearly lost it again, amassed an empire, and then lost it all. But her story is still popular, not for the lands that she ruled, but for her relationships with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.

image from janegs.blogspot.com

It was incredibly fitting timing that I completed reading this book during the same week in which we lost both Elizabeth Taylor and Geraldine Ferraro. The lives of these two incredible women give us insight into Cleopatra’s life as a sex symbol and ruler. Taylor and Ferraro have vastly different stories, but have both made a lasting imprint on American history. In an enlightening article in the National Journal, Kathy Kiely contrasts these two legendary women.

image from archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.com

Elizabeth Taylor, who played Cleopatra herself in the film, is like Cleopatra the sex symbol—with the glamor and very public personal life. Married eight times, she was in the public eye ever since starring in National Velvet as a child. Most remembered for her distinctive violet eyes, she was the icon of her day. Even though she did a lot for others, especially those with AIDS, at the end of the day many only remember her as a sex symbol.

Geraldine Ferraro, on the other hand, is like Cleopatra the ruler—she opened doors for all women. When she strode to the podium in 1984 to accept her nomination as Walter Mondale’s running mate, the first woman to be placed on a national ticket, “She took the ‘only men need apply’ sign off of the White House,” as Senator Barbara Mikulski describes.

image from archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.com

Though in the past 2,000 years we have made substantial progress in the realm of women in power, there is still a long way to go in terms of women being seen as leaders, not just sex symbols. There are currently 99 women in congress. In U.S. history there have been only 34 women governors as opposed to 2,319 men, and there still has not been a woman president (the Barbara Lee Foundation). Recently created programs like Emerge and Project 2012 provide women with the support and tools to take the risk and run like Ferraro, and perhaps by 2012 the world will look more like one that Cleopatra and Ferraro embody.

Best of the Blogs

•April 6, 2011 • 2 Comments

My Google Reader is packed.* If I fall behind on my blog reading during the week, I often have hundreds of posts to catch up on by the time the weekend comes!

So, inspired by Mediabistro’s reminder to spring clean my Twitter account, I decided to do the same with my regular blog reading lineup.

The beauty of the blogosphere? There’s something for everyone. Here are seven of my favorite blogs. Considering how many hours I spend scouring the Internet for sources that regularly feature novel, entertaining, informative, and thought-provoking content, I would dare to say that the following blogs have undergone a serious vetting process!

For the Fashionistas:

  • The Sartorialist: Fashion photo-blogging would not be the same without The Sartorialist, which features images of not fashion models in expensive designer outfits in a carefully curated setting, but real people on the street. As the Parisian cafe-goers know, people watching isn’t creepy – it can be a great resource for style ideas!
  • Who What Wear: Another great fashion resource, my personal favorite from WWW is the “What Was She Wearing” posts that feature pictures of celebrities alongside a guide of which designers they’re wearing. In a way, it’s like turning reality into a living catalog.

For the Beauty Junkies:

For Women who Dream of the Corner Office:

For Women who Want to Know:

*If you regularly read multiple blogs and do not yet use Google Reader, you’re missing out on a valuable content aggregation tool! Check out the Google Reader tutorial to get started.

I’m always looking for new inspiration – Which blogs do you follow?

Is It Okay to Be Pretty in Pink, But Wicked in Uniform Yet?

•April 4, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I was that youngster who played just about every sport she could. But I was also the little girl who fully embraced the scrunchie craze and slicked on Limited Too sparkly (and scented!) hair gel every morning before school. Later, I was that athlete who missed her high school senior prom and graduation to compete at the national youth rowing championship. But I was also the young woman who considered Elle Woods from Legally Blonde to be one of her idols and loved any event as long as the dress code called for a fancy dress and high heels.

Growing up, however, I saw these two sides of my identity as mutually exclusive. I did not have many role models who were comfortable with being seen as both attractive and athletic. As a result, I grasped onto anything I encountered that suggested that strength and femininity were compatible. In fifth grade, I proudly carried around a clipping from a Gatorade advertisement with Mia Hamm that read, “You wish you could kick like a girl.” In middle school, one of my favorite shirts read, “Pretty in Pink, Wicked in Uniform.”

Sky Diver Roberta Mancino / image from lugaluda.com

Unfortunately, there still seems to be much tension between these two characteristics. Most female athletes have struggled with presenting an image that is both “feminine” but is also true to how intimidatingly strong they are when they compete. They may also feel pressure to use their attractiveness to promote their sport. In an article entitled “Raising Her Profile By Showing Some Skin” in The New York Times, James Vlahos explains how even Italian sky diver (and Men’s Fitness titleholder of “World’s Hottest Female Athlete”) Roberta Mancino has struggled with this fine line, even though she has a professional background in both fashion modeling and extreme sports:

“Last fall, for [an] ESPN documentary, Ms. Mancino pulled off one of her most dangerous stunts yet. She stood atop a bulb of rock that crowns the Eiger, in the Swiss Alps, then leaped. In her wing suit, she veered ever closer to the craggy black massif, rocks filling the view of her helmet-mounted camera. Finally she turned away and pulled the rip cord.

But ESPN also was sure to show Ms. Mancino preening in designer clothes, strolling bikini-clad along beaches at sunset, and delivering smoldering close-ups straight to the camera. It was as if a woman who could literally fly through the Alps wasn’t enough to keep viewers interested.”

The potential repercussions of sexualized portrayals like this?

“Sex sells sex… It doesn’t sell women’s sports.”

-Mary Jo Kane, executive director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota

I agree with Ms. Kane, but I also wish that the younger me had had access to more women like Mancino, who are not afraid of showing off their strength or their sexuality.

Furthermore, there could be a positive benefit to the entry of female athletes into the fashion industry. Even though Mancino, with her “curvy figure” and “an endless succession of cuts and bruises,” does not have a body like that of most female models in advertisements or runway shows, she has been able to earn the money necessary make a living by modeling on the side. The debate over using waif-like versus healthy models in fashion is nothing new. Featuring strong and healthy female athletes like Mancino in fashion spreads may be part of the solution to promoting a healthy body image amongst young girls and encouraging women to live a healthy and happy lifestyle.

Another important point to stress is not only the importance of showing women examples of what a healthy and mature female body looks like, but also the importance of showing young girls that it is okay to be interested in both sports and fashion. One particularly good role model in that area is tennis player Maria Sharapova, who has designed a successful line of shoes and handbags for Cole Haan. Sharapova might be a tough world-class athlete, but she has a flourishing side career in fashion. And, a woman who is truly “pretty in pink, but wicked in uniform,” she sports pink tennis dresses on the court while she delivers her opponent a 100-plus mph serve.

 

image from tennistournaments4u.com

image from cornedbeefhash.wordpress.com

Coping During Your Job Search

•April 1, 2011 • Leave a Comment

by Danielle

As I was trying to decide what to write about my experience after graduating, the song, “Once in a Lifetime” by Talking Heads kept getting stuck in my head.*

You may ask yourself, where does this highway lead to?

You may ask yourself, am I right am I wrong

While you’re looking for the next step, it’s easy to begin “future tripping” and second-guessing.

When I look back at the past year, I barely recognize the person I was last May, and I just want to go back and give that girl a hug. I was overworked, overstressed, and overwhelmed. I got more job rejections than I even thought possible, was sleeping on friend’s couches more often than spending the night in my own apartment, and had no idea what I wanted. Now, less than a year later, I have an amazing job working with people that I love, and am even continuing to gain campaign experience.

image from completeittraining.com

You may ask yourself, how did I get here? No, I don’t have some magical formula for getting everything you want out of life (although I still really want one of those Easy Buttons from Staples!). It took lots of soul searching, lots of informational interviews, and LOTS of yoga in order to gain clarity about what I wanted and how to get it.

So, other than listening to the Talking Heads on repeat, my advice for those of you that are about to graduate (or that graduated already but are still searching for a “real job”) is the following:

  • Do as many informational interviews as you can handle. Even if your desired career is not within their area of expertise, it’s a small world, and they are likely to know someone that you want to meet. Ask each person for up to three people that they would be willing to put you in touch with- it expands your network, and you never know who has a position available!
  • Intern or volunteer while you’re looking for a job—if you have a career interest that allows for it, go for it! The best way to learn about an organization is from the ground floor, and the staff will be able to get to know you on a much more personal basis than if you were yet another interviewee.
  • Make a vision board—not only is it a great stress reliever, it also helps you more clearly visualize what you want. Your vision board can have words, pictures from magazines, photographs, items from websites, whatever speaks to you. Place it in a location where you will look at it often, and continue to amend it as you get a better idea of what you want your future to look like.
  • Do something for yourself every day—find some self-improvement hobby. For me, I found yoga and made a point of going whenever I was feeling extraordinarily overwhelmed. I became more centered and clear about myself and my goals, which made me a much more viable candidate. If yoga isn’t your thing, go running or swimming or even just read a book. Anything that gets you out of your to-do list mindset will make you much more efficient the rest of the time.
  • You don’t need to know what you’ll be doing 20 years from now, just what you’ll be doing next. An old friend often tells me this, and it is a great reminder for when you are feeling overwhelmed. Yes, Lululemon says that you should have 1-year, 5-year, and 10-year goals, but that doesn’t mean that you need to know everything!
  • Enjoy this time! As bizarre as it sounds (and as hard as it is to do), this is the one time in your life where you are not weighed down by the structure of school or work or many other obligations. Go to a museum; go on a walk; spend time with your family! Once you have a 9-5, you will miss the time you had and wish that you had enjoyed it more.

*Want to hear more songs that will motivate you? Check out fresh ink’s “Facing an Uncertain Future” playlist on iTunes!

fresh ink is now on the iPad!

•March 30, 2011 • Leave a Comment

image from creatov.nl

fresh ink is now on the iPad! If you have an iPad and go to https://freshinkblog.wordpress.com in your browser, fresh ink will show up in a special format. You can quickly swipe through past posts or browse pages and categories.

Check it out!

image from en.blog.wordpress.com

Stepping Back from Stress

•March 30, 2011 • 1 Comment

Besides the encouragement I’ve received over the past few days, I have also received some useful advice from women who have navigated the challenging (frightening, yet exciting!) situation of being on the cusp of college graduation and preparing for “real” life.

What advice have they given me?

“You’ve worked so hard over the past four years. Just enjoy it!”

“Begin today. Declare out loud to the universe that you are willing to let go of struggle and eager to learn through joy.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach

“Stop living life for what’s around the corner and start enjoying the walk down the street.” – Grant L. Miller (Full disclosure: This one was from the label of my Honest Tea bottle, but I loved it. And they call it “Honest” Tea for a reason, right?)

“It’s great what Caroline has done in terms of organizing her commitments based on what is in her best interest at a given time of her life. It would probably be useful for you to do a bit of what Caroline is doing…”

image from palscience.com

The past four years, I have thrived on stress:

“Six classes a semester? Tutoring elementary school children for six hours per week plus preparation time? A twenty-plus hours per week internship on Capitol Hill? Sign me up! And, excuse me, but do you have anything else I could take on?”

I am proud of all that I’ve managed to accomplish, but I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve missed out on plenty of fun and the stress has taken a toll on my mood and health at times. But I would not take back each and every one of those experiences for anything. As much as I’ve learned in the classroom during my time at Georgetown, I am still learning a far more valuable lesson in balance. As I prepare to leave college, the real challenge will lie in putting what I have learned into practice for the rest of my life.

image from lifehack.org

After talking with these women, I came across Maura Rhodes’ article in Women’s Health entitled, “Do You Stress Yourself Out?” I can give no other honest answer to that question besides a resounding “Yes!”

“According to the American Psychological Association, more than half of all women say they’re ‘highly stressed,’ an increase of 25 percent from just four years ago. But very few do anything to chill out. In fact, many seem to be saying ‘bring it on!’ because somewhere along the line being stretched to the limit turned into a badge of honor.”

Caroline’s decision really got me thinking about my own choices. If I do not practice the same balance and self-kindness that I advocate here, I am guilty of hypocrisy. And no one likes hypocrisy. So I’m going to follow the lead of my younger, more carefree self: My alliterative nickname on the soccer field when I was younger was “Happy Hannah,” not “Hypocrite Hannah”!

What example of balance am I if I turn this blog into a source of stress? So far, I have had the lofty goal of posting every weekday. Some weeks, I have posted even more frequently. But in the spirit of balance and the wise advice of my female role models (and Women’s Health!), I am going to scale back the posting frequency to every other day in light of Caroline’s departure. If I find more contributors, I may be able to up the frequency of posts, but Superwoman I am not. I am fortunate enough to have many celebratory events to enjoy and even more friends to relish the last hours of my time with. (I will not scale back completely, though, because I truly enjoy working on fresh ink and I have learned that I feel happiest when I strike a balance between productivity and relaxation, so stay tuned for more posts!)

I present to you this challenge: If you are someone like me who thrives on stress, say “no” to a request for your time, or even schedule an hour or so of your day to do something “unproductive,” but enjoyable. I’ll be right there alongside you challenging my perfectionist self! If I deserve to enjoy this one life that I have, you do too.

image from bigfootimports.com

Please share what you’ve done for yourself! Perhaps your favorite relaxing activity will help another woman feel as if it is okay to take time for herself or give her more activities to try.

Please bear with me as I update fresh ink’s pages and social media accounts to reflect the recent changes. As always, let me know if you have any suggestions!

Why

•March 29, 2011 • 1 Comment

by Hannah

I owe a heartfelt thank you to Caroline for encouraging me to do this blog. I came to her with the idea of starting a blog for young women and was excited about the idea, as I have opened my eyes to the challenges I will have to face and choices I will have to make as a young woman today.

However, consistent with research that has found that women are more likely than men to question their own credentials and ability to meaningfully contribute, I was scared to put myself out there and do this on my own. For the first time, I had a vision I was passionate about and emotionally invested in. I wanted to take a stand, even if it was in a subtle or small way – something as small as sparking a conversation or prompting a young woman to rethink the messages she has received over the course of her life.

When I mentioned the idea to Caroline, she graciously did not laugh in my face. I am very thankful to have had her support with this endeavor (and for the past 19 years of my life!). Our discussions about the various gender gaps in American politics and business were inspiring. I began to suspect that maybe I had hit upon something worthwhile.

Of course, I am sad to see Caroline leave this blog, but also realize that her choice exemplifies a challenge that all women of our generation will have to face: prioritizing according to what is important to us at a given time with a view of taking care of ourselves and living a balanced life. As she stated in her most recent post, this is not her passion.

But it is mine. So Fresh Ink will continue, with the same mission, values, and balanced content. Although this will technically be a one-person blog, I promise you that I will not fall into the trap of self-centrism that so many blogs do. I am not delusional enough to think that you care that I finally tackled the mountain of laundry in my closet today. You probably don’t want to know what I had for breakfast, but you may be interested in ways to learn how to budget or set career goals that will get you where you want to be. I want to offer you information that will make you think about and rethink your world, while also providing suggestions as to how you can make your singular life more enjoyable within a world that both demands that you be as ambitious, strong, and assertive as is expected of a man, but also asks you to be as humble, nurturing, and self-sacrificing as the generations of women before us have been.

Fresh Ink exists because I still want to be the girl who fakes out three defenders on her way to scoring the game-winning goal. With a pretty pink pedicure concealed under her soccer cleats.

Maybe one day that girl will be a young professional who wants to find an affordable, yet chic, shift dress to wear to her first big presentation at a company-wide conference.

Later, she might become a hardworking CEO of a major corporation whose favorite way to start her well-deserved weekend is cutting up oranges for her daughter’s soccer team to enjoy at halftime.

Who knows?

New Directions

•March 28, 2011 • Leave a Comment

by Caroline

The title of this post may or may not have been inspired by Glee…

Hannah and I first started this blog with the idea of connecting recent graduates together during one of the biggest times of our lives. Graduating from college marks a time of big decisions, lots of change, and discovering yourself. The hope of this blog was to help others through this difficult time, but also ourselves. In just a few short months since starting this blog, both Hannah and I have learned a lot about ourselves. Personally, I have gone through so much change that if you told me in January my life would be the way it is now I would have laughed in your face.

That being said, I’ve decided I’m not going to continue with blogging with fresh ink. With the combination of life stress and school/job work, it has become clear that this is not my passion. But it is Hannah’s. She has put so much work into this blog and truly made it her own, so it only feels right to let her grow it as such.

Thanks for following for the past couple months, and I hope you continue to follow Hannah going forward.

Love,

Caroline

Songs to Get You Through a “The future? Don’t talk to me about it” Meltdown

•March 25, 2011 • 3 Comments

by Hannah

If you’re a member of the college senior set, you probably know exactly what I mean by an “If one more person asks me what I’m going to do with my life, I will cry!” meltdown. I used to envy those b-school kids who got job offers before February, but it seems they are just as freaked out about the future and the uncertainty and challenges it brings. Just about everyone is asking themselves, “Where will I live?” “What will I do without my friends?” “Will I be able to find a job/be able to do my job?” “How will I budget?” “Will this (excuse my language) really suck?

Even if you’re not a college senior, as the adage goes, “The only constant in life is change.” Coping with these unknowns can be anxiety-provoking and overwhelming, but I often forget that it is exactly these unknowns that make the future so exciting. My life has taken countless turns that I didn’t expect – for better and for worse. I did not think that only a year after stepping onto the training barge at on the Charles River on a whim with three of my friends, I’d be stepping into a racing shell to launch for a race at Nationals. I did not think that the relationships I’ve had since I was born would change so dramatically throughout the course of my four years at college. And who expected I’d become so accustomed to living away from home? Not me. (But, Mom and Dad, I still love coming home to sleep in my old bed – so don’t give my room away just yet! 🙂 )

All it takes is a certain song at the right moment to change my mood, or even my entire outlook about the future. When I’m upset, the lyrics articulate my frustration in ways that I cannot. When I feel pessimistic about the future, I can take comfort in the constant refrain of an uplifting chorus.

Here are some songs that help me ride out the emotional wave of an “OMG! The Future (with a capital F). It’s coming!” freak-out. If you are also struggling with the uncertainty of the future, try putting these on your playlist (to hear them, you will be prompted to click through to YouTube for licensing reasons):

  • “Just a Ride” – Jem This song kicks off my favorite CD of all time: Music from the O.C. (Mix 1). (Are you done laughing at me? OK, thanks.) It’s actually a great compilation. (Again, I’ll wait until you stop laughing. Take your time composing yourself. The post will still be here.) Its source aside, this song has a calming melody and is one of the best choruses to sing when life gets tough.

“It’s just a ride, it’s just a ride
No need to run, no need to hide
It’ll take you round and round
Sometimes you’re up
Sometimes you’re down
It’s just a ride, it’s just a ride
Don’t be scared
Don’t hide your eyes
It may feel so real inside
But don’t forget it’s just a ride”


  • “Dog Days Are Over” – Florence + The Machine No, I did not choose this song because it was in Eat, Pray, Love (the movie, not the book). This song was popular in the U.K. while I was studying abroad there and once I heard it while sitting in the St. Andrews Student Union, I was hooked. Play this one after you remind yourself that life is “just a ride” and get excited to shed your baggage so that you can enjoy better days ahead.

“Leave all your love and your longing behind
You can’t carry it with you if you want to survive
The dog days are over”


  • “One Girl Revolution” – Superchick This one is another great soundtrack find. This time, it’s from Legally Blonde. (If you thought you were done laughing, you have too much faith in my shameless love for select parts of popular culture. I’m sorry, but there will never be another Elle Woods, nor will there ever be another Seth Cohen!) This song plays during the scene where she mistakenly comes into a Halloween non-costume party in a full-out playboy bunny-style outfit and then finally decides to stop trying to fit in with her (boring) Harvard Law classmates. From thereon out, she works hard inside and outside the classroom to show them they have underestimated her – all with her own panache. I admire that! Elle is fearless, whether she is wearing a bubble gum pink suit to court or standing up to her professor when he sexually harasses her.

“I wear a disguise
I’m just your average Jane
The super doesn’t stand for model
But that doesn’t mean I’m plain
If all you see is how I look
You miss the superchick within

I’ll be everything that I want to be
I am confidence in insecurity
I am a voice yet waiting to be heard
I’ll shoot the shot, bang
That you hear ’round the world
I’m a one girl revolution

Some people see the revolution
But most only see the girl
I can loose my hard earned freedom
If my fear defies my world
I declare my independance from
the critics and their stones
I can find my revolution
I can learn to stand alone”


  • “Waiting on the Sunshine” – Sixpence None the Richer (I could only find a live version of this song, so take it as you will – then go download the studio version!) Now that you’re ready to face the future (with a ton of energy, thanks to Florence + The Machine!), calm yourself down to a sustainable level of energy, while maintaining a hopeful outlook.

“All the questions in the world
I can leave in my mind
I’m waiting on the sunshine, the sunshine”


  • “Unwritten” – Natasha Bedingfield Yes, this one is a stereotypical choice, I know, but this may be my favorite song of all time. But to be fair, the girl’s right! The future is nothing if not unwritten…

“Today is where your book begins

The rest is still unwritten”

Are you on Ping (iTunes’ social network)? With this iteration of the niche social media trend, you can share your favorite playlists with friends and follow your favorite artists’ new releases and tour dates! I have published this playlist as “Facing an Uncertain Future” – view it, write a review, or download the songs!