Women it’s Your Time to Act and Woman Up: A Call to Action, Part One

By Natasha Foreman Bryant
 Teacher. Corrector. Nurturing. Supportive. Caring. Loving. Tender. Warm. Patient. Understanding. Healing. Healer. Fixer. Graceful. Delicate. Strong. Respectful. Kind. Brave. Meek. Humble. Courageous. Lady. Love.
 These words and more describe the traditional woman. These are some of the words that we think about when we think of mothers.
 Baby Mama. B*tch. Baddest B*itch. Side Chick. Side piece. Breezy. Butter head. Barbie. Chicken head. Dime. Cougar. MILF. Ho. Jump off. Queen Bee. Diva. Gold digger. Vixen. Trick. Slut.
 These are some of the words that are being used to describe women today. These are some of the words that women and young girls are using to describe themselves. These are some of the words being used by mothers to describe themselves and other women. The list continues to grow each year.
 Something is wrong. Something is terribly wrong. Painfully wrong. Females. Women. Ladies. Mothers. Sisters. It is time that we step up and act.
 We must Woman Up!
 I wrote a two-part letter to the men (see the links at the end of this post) asking that they step up and do their part to help bring about positive change in our households, schools, churches, and neighborhoods worldwide. I wrote and asked them to do their part to help young men and boys learn what it means to be a real man, a protector, nurturer, teacher, provider, father, husband, son, and friend. I asked men to do their part to help young women and girls learn what a real man is and is not, why they need to shake their fixation on finding the daddy that left them, was never around, or hardly noticed.
 But this change requires us too!
 Young men and boys learn how to treat a woman by looking at and getting directions from other males, but they also learn by watching and interacting with us. The kind of woman that you want your son, grandson, brother, nephew, or cousin to marry and raise a family with will either be the woman he sees in you, or the image he sees somewhere else—maybe on television, in magazines, or on the streets. You can either help present an honorable image, or you can carelessly allow him to seek out and connect with the next “jump off”.
 It is our responsibility to change the image and view of women. It is our responsibility to not sell out for money, affection, fame, or perceived power.
 Your Image: Healthy or Destructive?
 Here’s the problem. If your model image of womanhood comes from what you see on television or view in magazines, then you yourself have not been exposed to any positive female role models. You have allowed the media, designers, corporations, and airbrushing experts (all mostly men) dictate to you the epitome of beauty, sensuality, and strength. I just watched an amazing video that reveals what Jean Kilbourne and thousands of women have been trying to make clear for over 40 years—the images we see of fashion models, actresses, and female celebrities are mostly altered and airbrushed in an attempt to entice and seduce men, and embed a message in the mind of women and girls, that only leads to our diminished esteem and an increase in eating disorders, suicide, and heightened destructive sexual behavior. Please watch this video and share it with others, males and females, old and young. We have to change the way we see ourselves and other women. We have to change the way men and boys see us. We have to change the way designers and corporations see and depict us.
 Eating Disorders
 Eating disorders are not just a “white girl” or wealthy girl issue. Eating disorders don’t discriminate. They can reach all of us. Starvation, forcibly vomiting, binge eating, and emotional eating are actions taken by females around the world from every socioeconomic background, race, color, nationality, religion, and sexual orientation.You can have a seemingly “perfect” life living in a two-parent household, beautiful home, fenced yard, with one or more cute pets, and still have an eating disorder. You can live in the projects with your grandmother or aunt, and have an eating disorder. You can be a straight A student and star athlete, and have an eating disorder. You can be a soccer mom, juggling your demanding career and back-to-back playdates for your kids—and have an eating disorder.
 Either we think we’re too skinny, too fat, too wide, have too much cellulite, don’t have big enough breasts, or have some issue with our butt (too big, small, lumpy, flat, or too wide), whatever it is we aren’t happy. This unhappiness turns into us using exercise, food and other substances to drastically alter our bodies. Someone planted this seed in our minds. Someone told us we’re too fat or too skinny, and that seed rooted and grew quickly. We then fixated on this and it became our reality. Then our pain must be inflicted on others, because hurt people hurt people. So we then see the flaws in other women, and we do our part to share with them and others our opinion of these flaws. There is the chain reaction.
 Plastic Surgery
 Then there’s plastic surgery and this obsession with becoming a barbie doll—thinner, uplifted always-smiling face; big and even bigger breasts; perfectly sculpted legs and arms; toned and rounded hips and butt; and a teeny tiny waist. Women are spending one to six months of income (theirs or someone else’s) to achieve their ideal barbie doll image, and then when they still aren’t satisfied, they spend another one to six months of income to make corrections.
 That is why honorable plastic surgeons inquire in advance your true intent for wanting plastic surgeon, what outside influences may be encouraging this decision, and if you are mentally and emotionally prepared for this change. You can make all of the physical corrections that you want with the help of a surgeon, but if you aren’t spiritually, mentally, and emotionally healthy, happy and satisfied, then you will never ever be happy with yourself or your looks. We must accept this for ourselves and we must explain this to the young girls and teens who are growing into their bodies and ingesting the toxins delivered by magazines and on television. It is our responsibility to have this discussion with friends and family. It is our responsibility to have this discussion with young school-aged girls and those young women ages 18 to 25.
 It is our responsibility to tell the media, fashion designers, advertising and marketing companies, and other corporations that we are not inanimate objects, we are not objects. Period. We are women, ladies, girls, daughters, wives, girlfriends, sisters, cousins, teachers, entrepreneurs, and bearers of life. We are not to be dehumanized and exploited. To make this point clear that means that we have to also refuse to audition and interview for roles, assignments, and jobs that negatively portray us as objects of desire, and we have to stop carrying ourselves (and behaving) like mere objects.
 Woman up!
 Tune in for Part Two coming soon!
 Your Sista girl,
 Natasha Foreman Bryant
 To read the two-part Call to Action for men visit:
 Part One
 Part Two
 Jean Kilbourne

Tyra Banks and Members of the Fashion Industry Taking a Stand Against Eating Disorders and Rail Thin Models

By Natasha L. Foreman

Earlier today I read an article and viewed a short video featuring media mogul and former supermodel, Tyra Banks. Now age 38, Tyra shares in an interview stories of her childhood, her transformation from introvert to mean girl, back to introvert from the ages of 8-13, and her life before, during, and after her modeling career.

She began modeling in 11th grade (after the seed was planted in her mind in 9th grade), and the semester she was to attend Loyola Marymount, instead of starting her classes she took a modeling assignment in Paris—which catapulted her into a supermodel in one year, as she landed a record 25 assignments.

Tyra said in her interview that as she grew more into womanhood and developed curves, various designers refused to book her because she wasn’t thin enough for them. By the time she was in her mid-20s she was a size 4, and having issues with designers. But the kicker is, that she admits that if she was a size 4 teen attempting to enter the industry now, she would be told she was “too fat”. Many designers wanted and still want, a size zero.

I want you to consider this for a moment. Tyra is 5’10” and was a size 4, and was gradually being denied assignments because she was “too fat” for the designers!

Years ago Tyra never knew a size zero existed. Neither did I, I’m still trying to figure out when they slid that onto the racks. Heck, I remember going from kids sizes and then eventually I was in junior sizes. All through high school and undergrad I was a size four. Nowadays a size 4 in most designers’ minds is placed into a different model designation, which isn’t the mainstream ‘supermodel’ path. Nope, a size 4 isn’t a top runway model—that’s designated for the size none’ers!

Not all designers and fashion magazines however are cool with models being a size 0 or 2 anymore. According to the article, Vogue magazine now refuses to place within any of their 19 worldwide editions, any females who “appear to have an eating disorder”. The Israeli government has gone a step farther and passed a law banning modeling assignments to any female with a body mass index lower than 18.5; and Diane von Furstenberg, president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, sent guidelines to participating designers on how best to handle a model that they believe may be suffering from an eating disorder. She also required designers to provide models with healthy meals and snacks backstage. Believe it or not, all of these decisions are a big step towards progress.

The article did mention that one model didn’t think (back in 2007) that the industry was to blame for girls poor self-image, eating disorders, and desire to be rail thin. She instead thought that it’s the parents fault. That model was Gisele Bundchen and she told a Brazilian newspaper this back in 2007. She argued that her strong family base is the reason she didn’t have these issues. Well, that’s awesome for her of course, but she is in the very, very, very small minority. I agree, that your family base can have an impact on you and your esteem, however, if a girl wants to be a model and the industry says, “you aren’t thin enough” then she will either get there or walk away and look elsewhere.

To also go deeper, we’re not gaining feedback from a woman who is a size 6 or even a size 4— let’s gain some perspective respectfully, Gisele is 5’11 and weighs a reported 125.7 pounds. So at 31 years old, she has a body mass index of 17.4— which means no modeling assignments for her in Israel! It also means continued modeling assignments everywhere else, because right now she is the highest paid model in the world. By 2007 she had raked in over $150 million in earnings, and in June 2011, Forbes magazine estimated that her total earnings over the last 10 years have surpassed the $250 million mark. According to the Forbes article she is quite possibly on track to becoming a billionaire. Yep, you read that right!

I wonder how her earnings impact her viewpoint and her stance on shared industry-responsibility? I wonder if Gisele’s thinking on this topic has changed since 2007?

Whatever it is, let’s step away from it to instead congratulate Tyra Banks, the Israeli government, Vogue, Diane von Furstenberg, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and other members of the fashion industry who are stepping up, speaking out, and attempting to do their part to right the wrong that has plagued young girls and women around the world for over 40 years.

To read the article in its entirety and to see Tyra’s interview visit

Antunes, Anderson. “Could Supermodel Gisele Bundchen Be On Track To Becoming a Billionaire?”. Forbes.

Scordo, Lisbeth. “Tyra Banks: At 17 and a Size 4, I ‘Would’ve Been Considered Too Heavy’ to Model Now”. A-Line Celebrity Style.

Copyright 2012. Natasha L. Foreman. Some Rights Reserved.