Last week I wrote a post that I actually didn’t think that anyone would care about. I wrote about taking body image and selfies. Honestly, it wasn’t much but it garnered more feedback than I expected. I’ve come out of this these thoughts:
1. When I say I am hot I don’t mean in comparison to other or by judgment of others. I mean at 28 I like myself and my body. That I dress is a way that makes me feel good about myself.
2. I think all that is worth sharing and demonstrating to teenage girls.
3. I think selfies are silly, fun, and harmless.
4. I certainly don’t need anyone else’s permission to celebrate myself. So, you know, shove off.
For the next month I will be taking selfies and posting them on the internet. I’m using Instagram and the hashtag #shutupandduckface. You need an instagram account to do this. I am 90% sure to have instagram you need a smartphone or tablet. Just download the app and get on it. If you just want to do this on the twitters I’m into that, too.
There are no rules. A selfie is what you make it. Really love your shoes today? Take that. Mastered eyeliner? I wanna see. Ran three miles and are a sweaty mess? Rock that shit. I’m impressed.
Here is my first entry to soon be on instgram. I call it, “What Saturday looks like or I haven’t showered since Thursday.”
This is not something I talk about here much. But did you know I’m hot? I dress well, sometimes wear make up (look equally good without), and I make sweatpants look like a deliberate choice.
I think about body image a lot. I spend my day surrounded by teenage girls and well that’s what happens. We talk about things. I didn’t really know about body image until high school. You see my mother doesn’t wear makeup and never ever body shamed. It just wasn’t a thing.
Now, I’m 28 and a sort of role model for girls I teach so I feel as though I should do/say something. Today I read this (trigger warning: eating disorders) I thought about how I need to be more visible about positive body image. But also, I don’t.
Because I promote this by just being me. I am supporting my girls by not body shaming, dieting, or worrying over food. I am promoting healthy.
So here is my ridiculous challenge. For the month of February I will be taking a selfie a day. And I will post the first one I take. Because here’s the thing: I’m, just like J.Lo, real.* I am hoping you will join me. Pick the social media platform of your choice, I think I’m going with instagram, and let me know. I have a lot of hot readers and I want to see you.
I know this is silly but you know what? It’s the dead of winter and I need some silly. So shut up and duck face.
*bonus points for getting the reference.
They are teenagers.
I’d like to start with this: I think teenagers are the best. Truth be told I almost unilaterally like people but teenagers in particular. They do the coolest things and they are pretty much just, not completely formed masses of potential. But then shit like this pops up my facebook (6 people posted this, 6 people I like a lot):
The basic premise is: There are four apps out there that teens are doing the worst things ever on. Things like bullying, sexting*, and asking anonymous questions. For Shame! Damn you cell phone! You are ruining the chiddlins!
Here’s the thing though, of course they are. Of course they are bullying on their cell phones because they bully in real life. Yes, I understand the internet creates a platform that allows bullying to happen in an easier non face-to-face way but teenagers bully. It happens. This is obviously not the answer parents want to hear. Parents/ Adults want to hear that if they delete these four apps that your child will be perfect and no more bullying will happen ever.
And sexting**? Teenagers have sex! Although less of them than in the past (this video is great go watch it now). Teenagers also watch Game of Thrones, Girls, and pretty much anything that you watch because well, access. If you can get it off the internet so can they.
I can’t even talk about anonymous questions except to say, Seriously? This scares you? Are you also afraid of feet?
Okay, so, now that I have ranted here’s the real piece of this. A very small part of my job is educating teens on internet safety and digital footprint and from that I have some small pieces of advice that are based entirely around personal experience.
- Education has to be developmentally appropriate. Telling 8th graders that what they put on the internet will effect their chances of getting into college is dumb. They don’t have context for that. I also believe this is true for 10th graders, they don’t really understand consequences 2 years out. Heck, sometimes I don’t. Talk to them about their friends. Talk about what it feels like to read stuff about themselves. Talk to them about vagueness and tone. And the question I like the best, ask them if they read their own stuff if they’d want to be their friend.
- This needs to happen outside the home, too. Find out what your school is doing in terms of digital citizenship. Ask if your school has anti-bullying rules and how they extend to the internet. Ask if your school or district or local library has adult education on this. If you don’t feel like you know enough to talk to your kid about this then educate yourself. The easiest way to do that is to ask your kid. What apps do you use? What the heck is snapchat?
- Talk to your kid everyday. Maybe we move beyond, “how was your day?”. Maybe it’s time to start asking, “What’s happening on tumblr?” “Did you get funny snapchats today?” “Do you use that secret sharing app?” Yea, I think these questions sound awkward, too. Cause they are. Cause we’re all just gonna have to get in to the place of awkward and be okay with it.
I was most frustrated by the article linked above because it plays on fear. Fear that teenagers are doing all the terrible things we think they are and fear that we don’t understand them. The best way to quell this fear is to talk to them. As your mother probably said, “Use your words.”
Final note: This is written by someone who has no teen children and also has 324 teen children. So take from it what you will. Just remember the medium itself is not evil it’s all in how we use it.*Can we just take a minute and appreciate that my spell check thinks sexting is a word. I love the world. ** I really can’t get over that this is a word.
*this is the fourth of what will hopefully be five reflections from NAIS’ People of Color Conference in Washington, DC. If you teach at an Independent School and haven’t been here, get on it.
I intended to write this post last but it’s been circling in my head so here it goes.
On the last day of the conference the POCC and SDLC get together for some student led discussions. This was to be done in our affinity groups. Here is the first problem with that: The students have an LGBTQ affinity group that the adults do not (adult affinity groups are strictly race based). So those students, who had spent the last 2 days in a safe space were pushed out and into a group of people they hadn’t spent anytime with. The second problem is that they once you combine the teachers and the students in each affinity group they no longer fit in one room. Therefore we had to divide. The way we were divided? By gender.
GUH. We spent two days telling them this was a safe space allowing for a place that gender could be a spectrum or not even a spectrum. Then we asked them very nicely to chose a box. And here’s the thing about teenagers, they feel injustice the way you and I feel a nail to the foot. It hurts. A lot.
So when I arrived at the White Female group I sit down and I can tell the student with me is uncomfortable. Then they announce they are making a corner of the room for people who are gender queer. Yay, you get a corner!
All the sudden students starting running out the room. “Hey, we got a room! There’s a LGBTQ room,” they say to the student sitting next to me. I turned to the student and say, “Do you want to go?” With the biggest smile and the fastest nod we left.
The sense of relief when I came in to the room was thick. I don’t know how else to describe it. It was as though everyone in the room had let out a collective sigh releasing the weight from their shoulders.
There was only a spattering of adults and about 40 students. The students had texted each other about this new room but adults had only been told via a series of haphazard announcements. I only knew because of the student sitting next to me.
I don’t want to share much of what happened in the room because it’s not mine to share. But I will tell you this: I have never been in a more important space. The chance for students to meet teachers who felt like them was drastically important.
Lastly, POCC and SDLC needs to do better next year. Listening to the stories of fear coming from these students around having to choose a gender and lose this LGBTQ space broke my heart. Let’s do better adults. The kids are counting on us.
*this is the third of what is looking like 5 reflections from NAIS’ People of Color Conference in Washington, DC. If you teach at an Independent School and haven’t been here, get on it.
On the first day I went to what turned out to be the only real “workshop” session I went to. It was called “What Is and Isn’t Being Said: Interrogating Academic Expectations for Students of Color in Independent Schools.” It was put on by Elizabeth Denevi, Latin School of Chicago (IL) and Mariama Richards, Ethical Cultural Fieldston School (NY), who both seemed super awesome. They were both independent school educators who were also pursuing (or finishing) higher ed degrees which made me immediately feel for them as that time commitment doesn’t mess around.
I spent this workshop writing down quotes they said so I am going to just write them down and maybe a little commentary but in general I’m going to leave it to you. (also I missed the start of this so I have maybe only 3/4 of the session)
“The things we are telling our [students of color in their comments] mean nothing.”
“Stop saying ‘come see me’ it is useless.”
She also said that if they come twice in that vague time you gave them and you aren’t there then why should they bother?
Students are ranking the amount of time they spend on work at a 8-9 out of ten but if you ask them how they can do better they consistently say, “I need to try harder.”
“That’s where they find success.”
Here is where I may have yelled “YES!” Are you seriously telling me that we are letting them keep doing sports because they only find success there? No one is talking about the fact that they aren’t finding success at all in academics????
“I am surprised I am in honors chem since I am not good at science.”
Be specific in all feedback.
Leave the kids alone. “What are we doing with our teachers?”
When you only have a few students of color. “The success and failure of the whole group falls on the shoulders of each of them.”
“Grades should indicate mastery.”
Again, “Get the teachers!!”
There is a lack of communication with parents of color. Things like, “Well his parents will get really mad if we call.” or “A C is not bad.” Parents who send their kids to independent schools are generally not okay with C’s.
“Diversity Coordinators need to be masters of their subject area.” They also need power, money, and cooperation.
When does code switching become too much? When students start to lose track of who they are.
(If you don’t know about code switching start googling. I would give you readings but I am not the most educated on this. Recommendations? Leave them in comments! Thanks)
“It is unfortunate that [some students] have to live this way when others do not.” -on code switching
“Over 70% of students of color say they are working hard not for the grade but for the teacher.”
Explore your expectation gap.
Watch out for AP and Honors classes as gate keepers.
“What does it mean to have a social justice focus?”
“A Diversity Director without power is White privilege.”
As you can probably tell I loved this workshop.
Here some things I intend to google that were mentioned:
easted.com and the AISNE
Patricia Gurin at U-Mich
TESA (Teacher expectations and Student achievement)
Nutureshook – a book mentioned 4 times this weekend.
The White Privilege Conference at Brooklyn Friends
And the stories flew over me like gasps
stories that made me forget the spaces that I had been in before
stories that erased the thoughts I had and replaced them with new ones
And I took deep breaths so as not to apologize for things I had never said
for words I had never even thought
and I had nothing but disbelief at the vast space that was explained to me
the space of existing in a place where you are never reflected in others
where you are never reflected at all
a space that my life didn’t approach
I heard tales of expectations and misinterpretations
I heard words like different, weird, and not allowed
and could not manage responses beyond sheer disbelief
the burdens of people I could not lessen weighed on me
and still it was nothing compared to theirs
“sassy”, “overachievers”, “rappers”, aggressive”
were words used to discribe people as though they were themselves the group
children spoke of triangles in square peg, round hole worlds
children spoke of being whole.
the words, “does is get better?” were unanswerable by me
I don’t know, I replied, I will help, I replied
I will climb towards your space
never really being there with you
I will help you build a home, here, in the place between
I will try to follow where others have led
and lead when I can’t find a path
but I will never live your stories
I will never be in your space
So I will listen as we build something better together.
**this is the second of what I hope will be many reflections from NAIS’ People of Color Conference in Washington, DC. If you teach at an Independent School and haven’t been here, get on it.
**this is the first of what I hope will be many reflections from NAIS’ People of Color Conference in Washington, DC. If you teach at an Independent School and haven’t been here, get on it.
I am writing this in a break during day two of the conference. I am writing this about my first affinity group session. I am in the white affinity group. I know this because I was told I was white in it at least 15 times. “You are white.” “How do you embrace your whiteness?” “What does it mean to be white?” ” How do you feel about being white?”
When we showed up to the session we sat in groups of five. I don’t know that in my entire life I’ve ever intentionally been in a room with only white people. I know that is has happened, I mean my community/life was not hugely diverse but I don’t think I’ve ever been like,
“Let’s gather, white people!” Certainly not with the exclamation point. Anyways, groups of five. We sat and we discussed. There were questions, we told stories, overall it was a neat experience.
But here’s where I am at: I know I am white but it makes me uncomfortable to be continually reminded. Man, that sounds bratty. I am lucky enough to have the privilege of it not being the largest part of my identity. Of not having to think constantly about my whiteness.
I left with one main thought: I am worried about diversity being a prize to be won. “Our school has more than 25% students of color or staff of color so we’re awesome.” “My best friend is black.” “I run the GSA.” Are we as white people in a competition to be the least racist? To seem the least racist? When I throw out that I just read bell hooks am I doing it to seem like I am educated? Do I care that other people think that I am culturally competent? Why do I care? Why do we care?
Okay, That’s one session from yesterday I have about 3 others to write on and I need to go hang out with the other white people again now.