I Like This Picture of My Cellulite: A 19 Year Old’s Journey To Self-Acceptance.

Chapter One — and it’s a good one.

The Manifest-Station

Dear Readers, Jen here. The post below was written by a 19 year old student. I love that I have teens following the site! I am hoping to develop a series for young writers to express themselves. It is my great honor to be a platform for these beautiful voices. If you would like to send a piece in please email it to submissions@jenniferpastiloff.com. We want you to be heard. We are listening. See you all in London.

And I Like This Picture of My Cellulite by Victoria Erickson.

A Young Woman’s journey to self acceptance and appreciation.

rain edit 1

Now, I’m not the cute blonde on the left but rather the more prominent, jean-jacket covered, cellulite charging, woman to the right.

And the first thing I thought of when I saw this picture was how HAPPY I look: I’m jubilant, radiant, fresh home from my first year of college and ready…

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All About a Southern Superhero

I had the honor of meeting Eudora Welty in 1985 while employed at Woodland Hills Office Supply, located in Jackson, Mississippi.  She came into our store weekly with stacks of paper to Xerox and stood silently at that machine for up to an hour at times, lovingly making copies of each and every one of her handwritten pages.

I was fascinated with that tiny little woman.

Though I had been told who she was, I was still too young to understand just what Ms. Welty would represent to me later in life.  She’s an amazing example of the combined southern tradition, fierce intelligence, and creative independence that wasn’t often seen in women of her time, much less, M’issippi girls.

She’s one of my super heroes.

The following post was published on Shane Parrish’s Farnam Street blog May 19, 2014.  Our thanks to Mr. Parrish for his kind words and generous review of Ms. Welty’s cover letter written to The New York Post:

In March of 1933, Eudora Welty, then 23 and looking for writing work, sent this beautiful letter to the offices of The New Yorker. “It’s difficult,” writes Shaun Usher in his introduction to the letter in Letters of Note, “to imagine a more endearingly written introduction to one’s talents.”

March 15, 1933

Gentlemen,

I suppose you’d be more interested in even a sleight-o’-hand trick than you’d be in an application for a position with your magazine, but as usual you can’t have the thing you want most.

I am 23 years old, six weeks on the loose in N.Y. However, I was a New Yorker for a whole year in 1930– 31 while attending advertising classes in Columbia’s School of Business. Actually I am a southerner, from Mississippi, the nation’s most backward state. Ramifications include Walter H. Page, who, unluckily for me, is no longer connected with Doubleday-Page, which is no longer Doubleday-Page, even. I have a B.A. (’ 29) from the University of Wisconsin, where I majored in English without a care in the world. For the last eighteen months I was languishing in my own office in a radio station in Jackson, Miss., writing continuities, dramas, mule feed advertisements, santa claus talks, and life insurance playlets; now I have given that up.

As to what I might do for you— I have seen an untoward amount of picture galleries and 15¢ movies lately, and could review them with my old prosperous detachment, I think; in fact, I recently coined a general word for Matisse’s pictures after seeing his latest at the Marie Harriman: concubineapple. That shows you how my mind works—quick, and away from the point. I read simply voraciously, and can drum up an opinion afterwards.

Since I have bought an India print, and a large number of phonograph records from a Mr. Nussbaum who picks them up, and a Cezanne Bathers one inch long (that shows you I read e. e. cummings I hope), I am anxious to have an apartment, not to mention a small portable phonograph. How I would like to work for you! A little paragraph each morning— a little paragraph each night, if you can’t hire me from daylight to dark, although I would work like a slave. I can also draw like Mr. Thurber, in case he goes off the deep end. I have studied flower painting.

There is no telling where I may apply, if you turn me down; I realize this will not phase you, but consider my other alternative: the U of N.C. offers for $12.00 to let me dance in Vachel Lindsay’s Congo. I congo on. I rest my case, repeating that I am a hard worker.

The New Yorker, missing the obvious talent, ignored her plea before eventually correcting their mistake. Welty went on to win multiple awards including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1973 for her novel The Optimist’s Daughter.

 

“All serious daring starts from within.”

One of my favorite quotes happens to be from Eudora Welty.  Ms. Welty’s spunk and brilliance is part of what inspires this girl!

Rashida Jones: The Problem With Sexy Selfies

TIME

In this week’s issue of TIME, actress Rashida Jones talks about the new movie Cuban Fury, out today in the U.S., in which she plays a corporate manager whose potential suitors woo her with salsa dance. But Jones’ presence these days isn’t just on screens: she’s also a columnist for Glamour and an outspoken commentator on the state of sexiness. She’s admonished pop stars for being too sexy for everyone’s good — and been admonished right back, by some who see her views as going too far — and, more recently, spoke out about the problem with sexy selfies.

In a portion of the interview that didn’t make it to print, excerpted below, she explained why she thinks that the monolithic sexiness of online culture is a big problem:

TIME: I saw on Twitter the other day that you used the hashtag “Elegant Selfie.” How would you define that?

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All About Us

All About Girls Founders Debbie & Laurie

All About Girls Founders
Debbie & Nurse Laurie

 

So this is where it all begins.  Two girls walk into a crisis pregnancy center …

Actually, that’s not too far from the truth.

I knew I wanted to help.  My life journey brought me to a place that I could finally spend some time learning how to put the lessons I’d learned as a young adult to work for other women.  Specifically, women who were facing a crisis pregnancy.  This is where my path finally connected to my heart.  This is also where I met one of the most lovely women I’ve ever known, Nurse Laurie.  She and I have nurtured All About Girls together over the past five years and we’ll continue to do so as long as there is a need.

But we had to start somewhere …  we both walked into that little pink house.

Yes, really … it was a pink house on the corner of a downtrodden central Phoenix neighborhood, one which over many years had been eaten up by freeways, skyscrapers and commerce.  When I came along, that little pink house had been serving women in need for 40 years providing free pregnancy tests, material support and most importantly, peer counseling, which is how I spent my time as a volunteer and eventually, a staff member.

The tiny, dilapidated park next door was “home” to a regular audience of homeless men and women without anywhere else to go.  Even though they had a deep well of their own challenges and fathomless personal issues, they saw that our role as their neighbors was to help girls and women.  So they watched over us, they blessed us in our work and knew that we also wished them well.

As it turned out, Nurse Laurie and I became not only coworkers but friends in that little pink house on the corner.  We spent some of the most meaningful hours (of my life anyway) working on behalf of women.  Women who were scared.  Women who were helpless.  Women who were at risk on so many levels.  Women who brought horrific stories to us yet still had the courage to place their trust in us to inform them; to support them; to honor them, no matter their choices.  Nurse Laurie became my counseling sage and I her “Grasshopper”.  Her education and training placed alongside my passion and life experiences made us a great team.  (It also helps that we each walk around with stars in our eyes pretty much on a daily basis and that spreading sunshine and fashion advice is foremost on our personal agendas.  We can’t help it … we’re made this way.)

Over time, though our paths diverged as coworkers, our friendship remained solid.  During those final months working together however, I noted that a trend had emerged as part of my counseling.  I found myself continually matched with clients who were in their teens.  This wasn’t by design, as our system was first come-first served, next counselor available, resulting in random outcomes — kind of “grab the next folder and go” stuff — so it seemed over this time, that the universe might be telling me something.  Why else would I keep getting the youngest of our clients, some with a positive pregnancy result, some not, but many of the same demographic and set of needs?

I didn’t know for sure that there was a reason this was happening but I did pay close attention.  After all, I had a teenage son at home and a daughter about to enter into puberty … if for no other reason, the lessons that I was learning while counseling these very young women could be put to use in my own life as I considered the needs of my children.  I was continuing to develop as a counselor and conversely, as a parent.  I was thankful.  Little did I know just how well all of these things would merge over the course of the next year.

Having moved on to new projects and adventures, I was still basking in the glow of having experienced truly life changing moments as a peer counselor in that little pink house on the corner.  Those girls were never far from my mind and Nurse Laurie was my touchstone, connecting me to the work I had enjoyed so immensely.  The clock was also ticking for my kids.  A son now in high school and a daughter who … GASP! … was entering adolescence.  A girl!  Who needed to learn about periods!  And sex!  And pregnancy!! And all the other fun, fascinating, awkward, gory, miraculous facts that make up who we are as women.

I should note that my son’s entrance into and through puberty was a pretty routine and seemingly less complicated affair — our conversations and parenting moments were applicable to his needs but by nature of him being a dude, they didn’t have to include quite so many practical, body focused discussions and preparation as that of a girl about to start her period.  This is no way diminishes the importance of a young man’s entrance into adolescence by the way, it just happens to be a different sort of approach and set of facts and needs and trust me here … my thoughts on the topic were about to expand.

So along comes the big opportunity for my daughter to attend her school’s “Life Studies” presentation — in other words: S-E-X E-D-U-C-A-T-I-O-N.  This was a kind of rite of passage as a 5th/6th grader that my husband and I had been anticipating — a launching point of sorts to further conversations that had already begun at home; should have already begun at home.

I’ll disclose here that my daughter was attending a very small, inner-city Catholic school that offered a curriculum and cultural experience much different from our public school counterparts.  This was one of the many reasons we had chosen the school and why both of our children attended through their 8th grade graduations.  For so many reasons, this school community was the right choice for our family however, for so many reasons, it also became clear that this institution was not fully capable of meeting the needs of young women when the time came to discuss puberty, relationships and sexuality.  (Interestingly, they had done a pretty great job with the boys when my son’s class received the presentation however, that was a different time in the school’s history and consequently, the presentation was much more appropriate and impactful.)

Back to that classroom, that moment.  Sitting there with my daughter beside me along with several dozen other girls with their moms, it hit me.  I was boiling.  I was beside myself.  I almost couldn’t stand it.

For two hours, this small group of young women and their mothers were a captive audience connecting to … wait for it … absolutely nothing that was presented.  Though truly well intended, in my mind it was a disaster.  Blame a young, new and inexperienced principal, the language/accent barrier of one of the presenters, the fact that there was no female presenter in attendance, nor was the physician presenter’s specialty that of young women or puberty aged children at all.  Any one of these things could have been the reason for — again  — a truly, deeply well-intentioned but total miss of a night.

Suddenly, it was clear to me what was missing … what was missing for my girl and for the rest of those girls in the room.  And for the girls who had no opportunities for instruction, classroom or otherwise, nor any family support surrounding these topics at all, the forecast was even more dire.  There it was, right in front of me.

The gap.

The gap that existed (and still does) between home, school and community in educating young women about their bodies, their burgeoning sexuality and all the things that go along with those developments.

Sitting as part of this captive audience for two hours, knowing that several of the girls were hearing this information for the first time, knowing how disconnected and limiting the information being presented was, and finally knowing that there were so many other girls (and boys) out there that had already been missing out on all these same things hit me like a lightening bolt.  If my girl was missing an opportunity to learn, what must that mean for all the other girls out there?  Especially those girls who were even more at risk; those girls continually walking through the door of that little pink house on the corner? Most importantly, what was I going to do about it??

And there was the million dollar question and that’s when I called Nurse Laurie.

Because I knew she’d want to help …

… because I thought I might know where to begin …

… because I knew that if not, it might end with two girls walking into a crisis pregnancy center.

(The photo above is from February 2013 and marked the debut of new uniform shirts featuring our beloved daisy logo.  We were on our way to present “Virtual Girls” to a group of 7th grade NCL Moon Valley Ticktockers.  It was a great day and a great group of girls!)

 

Coming up next: All About our “First Time”

The Owner’s Manual for Teenaged Daughters

If you’ve been looking for the manual …

The Daughter Diaries

Ok, this isn't really a book, but wouldn't it be SO helpful if it was?? Ok, this isn’t really a book, but wouldn’t it be SO helpful if it was??

The Owner’s Manual for Teenaged Daughters by Cindy Haney

Why hasn’t anyone out there published a guide book for raising teen girls?  You know, like back when we were pregnant, we had the ever popular “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” book series.  How about I write a book called “What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting Snarkiness and Moodiness”?

I am highly qualified to write this book. That’s right, because I am currently down in the dirty trenches of the teenaged years with my two daughters, ages 15 and 17.  Ever since they reached the age of 12, I’ve been asking myself why in the world don’t these things come with an Owner’s Manual?  I could really use one!

I have a manual for my car, a manual for my TV, a manual for…

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The Dadmissions B.E.A.U.T.Y. Project

A man whose beautiful dadisms run deep …

Dadmissions

My 8 year old is so bright and eloquent and caring and sassy and like many girls she is making the transition from little girl to tween… She had one of those days this week stuck in a dressing room at the Gap trying to find an outfit that looked right. She finally did, but when I took a picture of the family at the end of the day, she still commented “I look fat in the picture”. It’s not so different from an instant a year ago when she stood in front of another dressing room mirror with me at Old Navy and said “this makes me look f-a-t”. She softly spelled out each letter like she couldn’t even say the word out loud. I was crushed. My wife is her confidant and reassures her and is awesome. I try to reassure her as well and share my own…

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