Tuesday- TED talks- Teach Girls Bravery not Perfection

This is such a moving and powerful TED Talk by Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code. I absolutely love what this woman is doing. This is exactly what our country needs to empower girls and shrink the gender gap in the tech industry. Check out this statistic from their website. “By 2020, there will be 1.4 million jobs available in computing related fields. US graduates are on track to fill 29% of those jobs.
Women are on track to fill just 3%.”

We Deserve Better

On the front page of the New York Times yesterday was a very disturbing article about a line of hair care products that have caused severe hair loss and the FDA can do nothing about it. The company did not break any rules. The ingredients that they used were all “legal” in the United States and they didn’t make any claims that could be considered misleading. The company has received over 20,000 complaints on this product since 2011 and it is still on the market. Our government needs to do more to ensure that harmful products cannot be sold to consumers. The article discusses legislation referred to as the Feinstein-Collins Bill created by Dianne Feinstein of California and  Susan Collins of Maine. It would require that the company provide information on any “serious adverse reactions” to their product instead of the FDA relying on the public to come forward.More importantly, it gives the agency the power to pull any products from the market that appears to be unsafe or harmful. There are companies fighting this for fear that it is overreaching. Honestly, I’d like the FDA to pull a hair care product off the market if it has been proven to cause major hair loss. Wouldn’t you? The article is here. I encourage you to read it. It’s quite upsetting that this is happening. That regulation of the beauty industry has not happened since 1938. There have been other recent hair care product scares that have found mercury and formaldehyde in products.  This is why I signed on with #beautycounter because I believe in their mission to make change, to get our government to pay attention to the “ugly side” of the beauty industry. I also love that I can trust this company and can feel that their products are safe to use. They also work closely with carefully chosen non-profits who are working to also make change such as the Environmental Working Group, The Breast Cancer Fund and Healthy Child Healthy Work. They also donate to Stand up for Cancer. Their transparency is refreshing. This article is a “must-read.” We deserve better.

Mascara and Girl Power?

Beautycounter, who’s mission to offer safer beauty products, set out this year to make a safer mascara, that actually performs. They were told they couldn’t do it without using harmful chemicals; they were told that it was impossible; they were told that they were wasting their time. They proved everyone wrong. This mascara really works and this is coming from someone who even wears mascara to the gym. Even the container is brilliant, it’s slim, easy to take on the go and the length of the wand is actually perfect. When launching the product they coupled it with a campaign that brought women together, 100 to be exact and used the campaign to bring awareness to violence against women. #100lashes. Beautycounter has pledges to donate $100,000 to Girl Effect.org– an amazing company created to support, empower, defend and most importantly educate impoverished girls and women who lack access to schools, healthcare and protection from being young brides and young mothers. #Girlpower is right!

Along the #girlpower theme, let’s talk about female athletes. I’m always inspired and moved by the Olympics and this year has been even more amazing. Despite the Zika fears, 45% of the athletes at Rio are women (some even still girls); this is the highest female presence, ever. Of course there is the unstoppable gymnast, Simone Biles and Katie Ledecky, probably the best female swimmer and she is only 19. But did you know that this Olympics, India has sent their first female gymnast? What about Gaurika Singh, she’s 13, the youngest athlete ever, she is 1 of 5 delegates from Nepal. Then there is Yusra Mardini, an 18 year old Syrian refugee from Germany. She and her sister abandoned a sinking boat off the coast in Greece and dragged it to the shore of Lesbos. She is part of the Refugee Olympic Team. Then there is Oksana Chusovitina, who at 41 is the only gymnast to compete in 6 Olympic games. There are so many inspiring women competing, making history, making change. Then of course, this year, we have the first woman ever to be nominated for president by a major political party. Whether you are left wing or right wing or in between; you’ve got to admit, this is still a historical (way overdue) moment. #Girlpower is right.

I love this video created by GirlEffect.org, written by by Nigerian-born performance poet, Bassey Ikpi. Visual animation by Mushtashrik Mahbub. So incredibly moving.

 

 

 

Endocrine Disrupters?

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I’ve been trying to clean up our act at home and stop the use of harmful chemicals in our cleaning supplies and beauty products- so many new words have been thrown at me and I’m determined to learn more without feeling like I should live in a bubble! The phrase Endocrine Disrupter is something I hear a lot about and since I have 2 young girls, of course I’m interested. So let’s break it down. The Endocrine system is made up of glands, hormones and receptors. Hormones help to regulate many biological processes in our body such as blood sugar control (insulin), growth and function of the reproductive organs, overall body growth (growth hormones) and the production of energy (metabolism). There have been numerous studies on lab animals and fish and through human epidemiology (the study of patterns and causes of human diseases and public health issues in a specific population) that have shown that certain chemicals have been found to “disrupt” these biological processes. This disruption will lead to adverse health issues such as developmental malformations, reproductive problems, nervous and immune system issues and cancer risk. According to EWG.org (the Environmental Working Group), the following 12 are the worst hormone altering chemicals to stay clear of (I have a lot of work to do)!:

  1. BPA- avoid canned foods, plastics marked with PC or polycarbonate or recycling # 7 and thermal receipts!
  2. Dioxin- This one is tough to avoid but eating fewer animal products can help. Try doing #meatlessmondays!
  3. Atrazine- To avoid this buy organic produce and filter your water.
  4. Phthalates- avoid some plastic food containers, plastic wrap,  any products labelled with added “fragrance.”
  5. Perchlorate- Drink filtered water and use iodized salt.
  6. Fire Retardants- use a vacuum with a Hepa filter. Be careful when reupholstering furniture and replacing old carpet. Passing better toxic chemical laws will help prevent this chemical getting into products.
  7. Lead- get rid of crumbling paint that may contain lead (carefully and professionally), use a good water filter. Also, note, children with healthy diets absorb less lead!
  8. Arsenic (scary, right?)- Get a good water filter.
  9. Mercury- Eat sustainable seafood like wild salmon and farmed trout.
  10. Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCS): don’t use non-stick pans, avoid water resistant coating on clothing and furniture.
  11. Organophosphate Pesticides- Buy organic. Check out this guide on the worst foods to buy organic.
  12. Glycol Ethers- Found in cleaning supplies, check out this list to find good cleaning supply suggestions.

Phew! A great way to avoid all of these chemicals is to buy and support Beautycounter, a clean beauty company with a mission to provide safer and healthy beauty products and to get Congress to start banning the use of harmful chemicals in the beauty industry. Several of these chemicals are listed on their “never list” meaning they will never be used in Beautycounter’s products. Europe has banned 1400 and the United States has banned only about 11!

 

Imperfection

This poem was read aloud at a yoga class on Sunday at Saraswati’s Yoga Joint in Norwalk, CT and I had to share it. It’s by Elizabeth Carlson and titled Imperfection. It’s a great reminder of how we get caught up in the little things, letting our lives pass us by, missing the beauty that surrounds us. It also suggests that with age, comes wisdom. So true.

Saraswati's Yoga Joint
Saraswati’s Yoga Joint

Imperfection

I am falling in love
with my imperfections
The way I never get the sink really clean,
forget to check my oil,
lose my car in parking lots,
miss appointments I have written down,
am just a little late.

I am learning to love
the small bumps on my face
the big bump of my nose,
my hairless scalp,
chipped nail polish,
toes that overlap.
Learning to love
the open-ended mystery
of not knowing why

I am learning to fail
to make lists,
use my time wisely,
read the books I should.

Instead I practice inconsistency,
irrationality, forgetfulness.

Probably I should
hang my clothes neatly in the closet
all the shirts together, then the pants,
send Christmas cards, or better yet
a letter telling of
my perfect family.

But I’d rather waste time
listening to the rain,
or lying underneath my cat
learning to purr.

I used to fill every moment
with something I could
cross off later.

Perfect was
the laundry done and folded
all my papers graded
the whole truth and nothing but

Now the empty mind is what I seek
the formless shape
the strange off center
sometimes fictional
me.