The Mask You Live In: Why This Film Matters for our Boys

In 2012, the brilliant Jennifer Siebel Newsom shed light on misogyny and media with her eye-opening documentary Miss Representation. This fantastic film showed us clearly how women and girls are being misrepresented in the media, and underscored that it’s time to teach our daughters AND sons a new viewpoint on real femininity. It also set the wheels in motion for Newsom’s next project – one that statistics show is badly needed. Her current film-in-progress is a documentary in the same vein as Miss Representation. The Mask You Live In is an exploration of masculinity in America which asks us as a society: How are we failing our boys? Recently popular girls’ and women’s self-esteem initiatives have gotten a lot of media attention, as well they should. These...

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Camp Reel Stories Gives Film a Female-Filled Future

2013 was a great year for women in film. Female-directed Frozen won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature (yay, Jennifer Lee!) and films with strong female roles like Gravity and Catching Fire were hits at the box office. These are wonderful achievements, yet the grim statistics about the percentage of women behind the camera and about the quality of female roles in front of the camera must be reversed. Fortunately, there’s a program in Oakland, California for girls aged 13-18 who want to get into media that aims to change those statistics. It’s called Camp Reel Stories, and it is changing the way women will be involved with and portrayed in the media in the next generation. Camp Reel Stories is a non-profit summer program designed to empower and equip...

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Redefining Girly: Play with Tools in Your Tutu

The photoshopped images and female stereotypes our girls are inundated with today in the media and on retail shelves are skewed and unhealthy; while this is no secret, it’s been a very tough trend to turn around. But we have seen progress: the Brave Girls Alliance, Miss Representation, and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media are all making great strides. And as I’ve mentioned before, a wonderful book called Redefining Girly by Melissa Atkins Wardy is on shelves to help parents steer their child toward pursuing what they’re interested in, rather than what they’re “supposed” to be interested in. It was exciting to see that Melissa and family psychologist Dr. Jennifer Hartstein recently appeared on the Today Show with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford to...

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“Average” Doll Smashes Crowdfunding Goal and Raises Hopes

It’s no secret that change in the way toys are marketed to children – especially girls – is vitally important to me. And I’m happy to admit, that even as I typed that sentence I had to smile with hope. The events of this past year, from the success of the #BraveGirlsWant initiative to the popularity of the STEM learning initiatives aimed at girls, to the attention being garnered by efforts like Miss Representation and the new book Redefining Girly — all have given me hope that change is coming, and soon. But this story, this very true tale I have to tell is the one that fuels my optimism most. It’s the story of an “average” doll, created and made to the average proportions of a 19-year-old American woman.  A doll that was wanted and needed and longed for so...

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A Peek into my Mind: My Interview with SplineBomb.com

It can be both exciting and humbling to reflect on my career and look back at how I got to where I am today. There were both thrills and bumps along that road, but I’m very thankful to where it’s lead. Recently artist and character designer Ryan Adams interviewed me about my career. He covered some topics I haven’t visited in awhile, so it was a great trip down memory lane. An excerpt is below, and you can click through to SplineBomb for the whole interview. Thanks for allowing me to share my reflections with you! From SplineBomb.com, originally published March 12, 2014 Here’s one of many interviews that has been coming for a while. Our awesome friend, Ryan Adams, took time out of his busy schedule to chat with Brenda Chapman. In 1998, she became the first woman...

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I Remember the Exact Moment I Became a Feminist

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of taking the stage at yet another TEDx event at UC Berkeley. The theme of the day for TEDxBerkeley was “Rethink. Redefine. Recreate.” and it’s one I took to heart. My talk was called “Observation and Change” and it focused on something that’s become essential in my personal and professional life: observing what needs to be changed and then working to fix it. As I said in my talk, which you can view below – there are a lot of things in this world that need to be changed, and it’s absolutely overwhelming. Can you fix them all? No. But what you can do, and what you must do is take that one thing that keeps you awake at night and do something about it. My example? Disney movies. I loved them as a child – Snow White,...

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Fabulous Fashionistas Could Teach Us All Some Lessons

Empowering girls and women to be themselves and love themselves is something I’m really passionate about. And when I see women who are providing fantastic examples of what it really means to be  confident, empowered and “owning” their unique individuality and perspective on life, I try and do my part to spread the word. And when they’re a group of older women, there’s something about that that makes it even more special. Fabulous Fashionistas is my latest find – a group of six older women (with an average age of 80, no less!!) who are making headlines as the subject of a new documentary on Britain’s BBC 4. They are just so amazing! These spunky ladies are proving that you’re never too old to express yourself, and fashion is their way of making a statement and...

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Your Voice Matters – Share Your Opinions on Marketing to Girls

One of the most important topics we write about here  - and one we won’t stop writing about until there has ceased to be a need – is the sexism in the marketing of toys and books to girls. We’re not fans of toys covered in pink and purple glitter or books idealizing a girl’s beauty above all else. As we’ve mentioned, we’ve got some allies in this fight, and we like to recognize them and help them whenever we can. One organization that has a real vision for creating change in the way products are marketed to our kids is the advocacy group Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies. Founded by Melissa Atkins Wardy, Pigtail Pals is focused on helping parents to help their kids of both genders “to grow in a healthy childhood free of gender stereotypes and sexualized...

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Meryl Streep Tells Us How She Really Feels About Walt Disney

A couple of weeks ago the National Board of Review Awards did much more than just give Hollywood its customary warm-up to the Golden Globes. The event also set the acting world abuzz with unexpected controversy when accomplished actor Meryl Streep (possibly the most loved and decorated female actor of our time, no?) made some bold statements about Walt Disney in the speech she gave to present fellow outstanding female actor Emma Thompson with the best actress award for her role as Mary Poppins author PL Travers in the feature film Saving Mr. Banks. The movie tells the story of how Walt Disney himself pursued and persuaded Travers to let him bring Mary Poppins to the big screen. While Streep’s lengthy presentation speech included lavish praise for Thompson,...

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Taking the Stage at TEDxBerkeley

Last fall I had the experience of a lifetime when I given the honor of speaking about Role Models and Resilience at TEDxUNPlaza. Not only did I get to share my mother’s story and the importance of teaching resilience to women and girls, but I was inspired listening to and learning from all the other speakers and performers who shared that day. As I wrote soon after, it was an amazing group of people who are making the most of every day, putting their words into action. I walked away from the UN Plaza so much better than when I arrived, thanks to my experience and the influence of my fellow speakers. And now, it seems, I am going to be fortunate enough to have another such brilliant experience. In just a few short days, I’ll be joining a wonderful lineup of...

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