The Dichotomy of Modern Women

Recently the story of a would be Suicide Girl floated across my Facebook. For those worrying about the term Suicide Girls, it’s women who, very simply put, fight to normalize the female body and encourage body positivity through photography. The author’s story and the Facebook comments immediately highlighted a fracture in modern feminism. Because I desperately want to see women move forward together I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on the perceived differences. I came to a surprising conclusion.

The core perceived conflict: female openness about our bodies vs. being taken seriously and not being sexualized/objectified.

Excluding the disturbing and visceral comments made by some which were… unconstructive, the commenters (primarily women) fell into two camps of thought:

  • Women’s bodies cannot be a normal, healthy non-event unless we treat them that way.  This is the psychologically relevant “use a dirty word until it gets its cleaning” defense, and it does work when used appropriately. This is the argument for photos like those in the article above.
  • I want to be taken seriously as more than just a body. This is the argument against and reflects women’s hard worn patience for men who catcall, ignore the word “no”, and talk to our chests. Its a concern that photos that focus only on one piece of a woman’s body will reduce us to those parts in the eyes of men.

 

Photo by: Med Badr  Chemmaoui

Photo by:
Med Badr Chemmaoui

So here’s the thing – these two goals are actually for the most part aligned. Both camps of women want women’s bodies to be respected and normalized (not sexualized). They’re simply trying to take different paths to the same goal. Both routes there can work but I think there are some caveats.

The Suicide Girls photography treads a very fine line. It’s important to make the world accepting of different body types, tattoos, flaws and triumphs. It’s important to foster a community of strong women with self-confidence. But it’s difficult, the photos I saw on the site did at times skew towards women flaunting sexuality or show only one piece of their body, isolated from the rest. That my friends I think is the rub.

The writer of the article that sparked this had her boyfriend take her photos. He likely was supportive, kind and well-meaning. But as most artists will tell you, the photographer colors the photo. Even if it’s unintended, a sexualized undertone can sneak in because that’s an aspect of their relationship. That undertone, unravels the message.

And it’s time we recognize that we as women aren’t always helping our cause. We’re quick to comment on others, to distance ourselves, or isolate those who are bold or different. We need to open a dialogue and work together to cultivate and correct our message.

To benefit women as a whole we do need to get comfortable with our bodies and confident in the ways we speak and hold ourselves. We need to convey that to others openly and with warmth and resolve. But we need to recognize that much of the stimulus about our bodies and minds is pressed upon us by others. We need to be mindful to make our stands carefully, show women as respected, whole bodies not parts. Be mindful of the message your image conveys, is it a strong, independent women just living her life as she is? Or are you playing to a male audience?

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On Staying Creative Amongst Computer Screens

Computers have a tendency to make us rush. Rush through lunch by answering emails on our phone, rush to work to take care of that last minute agenda item, rush to take over for a coworker who dared stop working at 5pm. It’s nothing new, but constantly being connected has taken a serious toll on our attention spans, and as a direct result our creativity.

It makes sense, you’re inundated with inspiration every day but you have no time to process it before your attention is swept up by something else. You have all the potential for a great and creative idea but none of the follow through.

When I entered the tech world I went about 2 years before realizing that I needed to do something to prevent creative burnout. All my hobbies and waking hours were spent in front of a computer, my work became a bit stale, and my productivity fizzled. What free time I did have, I was so desperate to take a mental break that I’d watch TV, hardly fulfilling.

Now I give myself a rest from tech in some small ways and carve out some personal time for myself – it can seem hard at first but it’s completely worth it. Once you have these down, you can try to do more like Gasp turning off your phone and computer for a day*.

*Warn your friends and family first

Put It on Your Calendar

The biggest tip here is to actually put these things on your calendar with an alarm or reminder attached. We’ve found that we’re far more likely to actually do what we said we would if we’re reminded right before. If you don’t want “No TV Tuesday” or “Hobby time” on your work calendar, that’s completely understandable. Instead use a personal account or create a private calendar on your business account for these tasks.

Designate a No TV night

We’ve opted to retain Tuesday’s as a no television zone. Occasionally we make exceptions, but generally we’ll work on other projects (preferably offline), read, or just spend time together playing a board game. Removing TV for a night will free up some brain space to process new ideas and will shift your focus to engaging and interacting with the world around you – rather than passively watching.

Get Moving

Creativity has a strong connection to movement. This discovery, dating back to Hippocrates, is hardly new. Schedule some time for an evening walk with your dog (the dog will be happier too), go to a yoga class, do a workout tape. Whatever it takes to get your creative juices flowing and your stress levels reduced. While walking affords more leisurely thought, I’m a firm believer that traditional exercise that reduces stress will also free up significant thought processing power.

Pick a Hands-on Hobby

Have you been itching to learn the ukelele? To do origami paper folding? Build furniture? Whatever that non-tech hobby is on your “someday” list now’s the time to try it. I started a DIY blog that requires that I make one to two hands-on crafts a week which has afforded me the room to try many things. If you’re looking for something a little lower maintenance (and that requires little to no work space) try origami. It’s a great way to challenge yourself.

An added bonus – these non-computer hobbies will have physical returns and markers of success. Nothing beats the feeling of seeing the pillow you sewed yourself sitting on the bed. These moments of fulfilled completion will give you creative momentum.

Doodle and Jot

Write it down my friends, the honest truth is that after implementing these you still will have a busy life. You’ll want a notebook nearby to sketch out and write down any creative flash or thought you get now that you’ve gained momentum. Take note of these ideas as they occur so that you’ll be more aware of them and you’ll be able to revisit or develop them later when you have time.

Make Pins count

You’ll still be inundated when you interact with online aggregators like Pinterest, Twitter and blogs. Let’s make that work for us! External sources are an excellent pool of creativity to draw from – if you make it mindful. Don’t just pin everything related to a holiday and forget it. Save the things that truly inspire you and actually revisit them. Try out that simple snow globe DIY you pinned last Christmas, you may do it wrong at first but you’ll learn a lot in the process and open up new thought channels. The idea here is not to overwhelm yourself but to actually create an inspiration board you can work from.

 

Any thoughts or ideas to share? I’d love to hear what’s worked (and what hasn’t) for you.

Friday Finds: Link Love for Techies

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Let’s recap the last few weeks in tech (and a few cool gadgets – after all I can’t resist a gadget).

  1. Google Glass was for sale to the public – For one day only (coincidentally the day taxes were due) anyone could be a glass explorer for the low, low price of $1,500. Ouch.
  2. The IDPF Launched the EPUB Zone website – Okay technically this happened a bit earlier than this week but honestly it flew under my radar til now. It’s supposed to give the latest news on EPUB but no one’s updated it since April 8th so stay tuned!
  3. Google’s buildable smartphone “Project Ara” Photos Released – That’s right, soon there’ll be no need to replace your whole phone just to fix a broken screen or get a better camera. This my friends is awesome. It may even get me to switch from iPhone…
  4. Mashable Published a Heartbleed Hitlist – This is a great go-to to see which passwords you absolutely need to change due to the Heartbleed security encryption bug. It’s pretty comprehensive and rest easy, most financial websites were untouched by this nasty bug.
  5. Google Bought a Drone Making Company –  Google has officially joined the ranks of tech companies who own drone companies. The drones made by Titan Aerospace (now a part of Google) are solar powered and can fly for years.
  6. The Roomba equivalent of the printer has been created – The Kickstarter campaign for this little printing wonder is still open to funding (though it’s met it’s goal). So if you’d like a tiny printer on the go check it out!
  7. 3+ hours of portable power for MacBooks without a plug – We’ve all been there, in a meeting, on a train/plain automobile (hopefully you aren’t driving) and that little notification of doom pops up. Your macbook’s about to die. Now instead of scrambling to save all those files, you can plug in to this nifty external battery for mac.

Humbling Moments: the Perpetual Student

There are moments in life where you realize that your perspective on the world has been skewed. Everyone (I hope) has them, they’re our natural system of checks and balances. At any rate, some of these moments are instantaneous, but most come in stages. I’ve been at an eBook startup almost a year now (crazy I know!) and I still love it, my job has evolved each week into something more exciting and more challenging. But recently it also brought with it a realization, particularly about technical skills.

In the publishing industry, I as an ePUB developer, was high-tech. I wrote and edited content in CSS and HTML which to most of my highly skilled editorial counterparts was a baffling language. In that kind of situation where you are close to the top of your pile (in your company) after awhile you start to naturally feel more confident, like you can do anything (honestly if you put your mind to it you can). In truth ePub developers are by far one of the most innovative groups I’ve come across, they have to be to work with such a crazy standard. But overall I lost perspective. I knew I was no where near the skill level of an engineer but I thought I was rather fluent in CSS/HTML.

Then I started my new job and for one day I had a moment of shear panic (I suspect we all do in our first weeks at a new job). SASS, or Semantically Awesome Style Sheets (yes that is a real thing and it is indeed awesome) was what my new company styled everything in. CSS was a byproduct, compiled from the SASS as a last step. Other than a few brushes with SASS I was truly a real “noob” but I was also very lucky. I love a new challenge and I had the incredible fortune to learn from a very patient and kind front-end/web developer. This was my first humbling moment. I had to start over and all of a sudden I didn’t feel nearly as “fluent” as I had.

Time passed and I forgot, I started to get comfortable again with my skill set and found myself drawing comparisons to the last time I’d felt that way. I also started working directly with publishers again and getting back in the ePub state of mind. Then it hit me, I run the risk of falling into the same trap all over again, of losing perspective. Though I can write quite well in CSS, HTML, SASS and I’ve learned to write MathML comfortably. I’m still awed by the things I see full blown computer engineers do or even other web developers (Hello CSS animations and parallax!). This realization was a second humbling moment.

I understand that they’re separate skill sets and arguably so is the set of concerns and skills that an eBook developer has/faces. Still, in the world of the web, it’s fast becoming apparent that we’re all perpetually students. By the time you’ve mastered one element of CSS, five more have been added. It’s a delightful and frustrating cacophony of newness. You’re constantly testing, tweaking and optimizing. Finding the best solution for each piece of content. I imagine this feeling is much the same for anyone looking to evolve with their field but because of the incredible speed at which web standards are/have to be updated the feeling is augmented. Every week you need to learn something new, every week visibly shows progress.

Quite frankly, it’s thrilling and at times startling but boy does it beat a monotonous job. Personally, I’m going to try to remember this moment, and gain as much knowledge and information I can from all the talented and inspiring people I meet. Hopefully along the way I’ll share some of what I’ve learned with those who need it. It pays to be brave, to reach out and ask questions and admitting that you need to learn from others is humbling. It should be.

Friday Finds: 5 Finds for Foodies

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It’s a brave new world here at Foodie By Night! Fridays we’ll be posting collections of our favorite food and tech posts of the week! Usually both food and tech will get a dedicated post each friday so feel free to tune in to the one you’re interested in. This week we’ve only got the foodie finds prepared but fear not techies! Next Friday you’ll be catered to as well.

  1. A Beautiful Mess’s Crash Course on Book Proposals – Now I know that a few of you out there are interested in getting published. ABM’s literary agent has written up some pointers on getting your proposal noticed.
  2. Henry Happened’s Eggshell Gardens – These are so adorable! Not to mention this would be a super kid-friendly way to learn about gardening.
  3. Food 52’s How to Make Hot Cross Buns for Easter – Okay I’ll be honest… I forgot that this Sunday was Easter. Once I remembered, I fell in love with these hot cross buns, they remind me of the children’s song.
  4. Joy the Baker’s Triple Berry Dutch Baby Recipe – I’m so excited that berry desserts are back on the menu! It’s like spring has really started.
  5. Food 52’s All About MSG – This was a real eye opener for me. Though I’ve never formed a strong opinion on MSG I’ll certainly think of this article when I see “No MSG” signs in my favorite pan-pacific restaurants.

Review and How-to: BlogLovin Read Your Favorite Blogs All in One Place.

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Let’s start today off with a new favorite website of mine: BlogLovin‘. BlogLovin’ solves a very simple but annoying problem. It consolidates all your favorite blogs and their posts into one place.

This may seem pretty superfluous but when you love upwards of 40 food/tech/style blogs and are constantly looking for inspiration it can be really tedious to try and 1.) remember all of the blog names, creative as they may be and 2.) sift through a pile of browser bookmarks. I’d been saving blogs on my chrome browser in a special folder for months but thanks to my secure google log-in it was impossible to view them on my phone…

And then I stumbled across BlogLovin’ by clicking on a social media icon I didn’t recognize on someone else’s blog. It was truly an AH HA! moment. The process is simple, set up an account, search for the blogs you love, then log-in to see all their postings in one place.

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What follows is a quick review and two how-to’s on setting up an account and claiming your blog. If you’re interested then read on!

Let's start today off with a new favorite website of mine: BlogLovin'. BlogLovin' solves a very simple but annoying problem. It consolidates all your favorite blogs and their posts into one place. This may seem pretty superfluous but when you love upwards of 40 food/tech/style blogs and are constantly looking for inspiration it can be really tedious to try and 1.) remember all of the blog names, creative as they may be and 2.) sift through a pile of browser bookmarks. I'd been saving blogs on my chrome browser in a special folder for months but thanks to my secure google log-in it was impossible to view them on my phone... And then I stumbled across BlogLovin' by clicking on a social media icon I didn't recognize on someone else's blog. It was truly an AH HA! moment. The process is simple, set up an account, search for the blogs you love, then log-in to see all their postings in one place. What follows is a quick review and two how-to's on setting up an account and claiming your blog. If you're interested then read on! [taq_review] Quick notes: I love the overall ease and experience of using this website. It's made my blog reading life spectacularly easier and is ideal for those who want to look at a lot of blogs at once. That said there are a few bugs still left in the system. The count of unread articles can go a little haywire at times (even showing negative numbers) and when you follow a blog for the first time you get flooded with all of their recent posts in your feed. That said, all you have to do is mark the posts you're uninterested in as read and they'll be pushed to the bottom of your feed on refresh. On the accessibility note, there are apps to access your feed from all Apple and Android devices, as a train-riding commuter I seriously appreciate this feature. Setting Up BlogLovin' Though BlogLovin' is pretty intuitive lets quickly walk through the steps of setting up your account and following blogs! First step is super easy! Pop on over to bloglovin.com and click the signup link of choice (I prefer email personally but to each their own!).[one_half][/one_half] [one_half_last][/one_half_last] After you've set yourself up you'll be asked to find some blogs you'd like to follow! You can peruse popular blogs and sift through categories if you'd like or if you're impatient like me you can use the search bar (top right corner). [one_half] [/one_half][one_half_last] [caption id="attachment_1673" align="alignnone" width="354"] Be sure to choose the right option! Following "Comments on" is not the same as following a blog[/caption] [/one_half_last] You can always find out more about a blog by clicking on it's name. BlogLovin' will show you their recent posts and images so you can decide whether or not that blog is the right fit for you! (Ignore my dismal number of followers - I'm a blog on here as of roughly a couple of days...)…

BlogLovin' Stats

Intuitive User Interface - 75%
Blogs Available - 90%
Claiming/Setting Up Your Blog - 60%
General User Set Up - 80%
After Set Up Maintenance - 90%
Accessibility - 90%

81%

BlogLovin' is super user friendly and low-maintenance once you've set up which blogs you follow. There are a few bugs in the website's ability to count how many posts are waiting to be read but the choice of blogs is excellent, with most major blogs present and easy to follow.

User Rating: Be the first one !
81

Quick notes: I love the overall ease and experience of using this website. It’s made my blog reading life spectacularly easier and is ideal for those who want to look at a lot of blogs at once. That said there are a few bugs still left in the system. The count of unread articles can go a little haywire at times (even showing negative numbers) and when you follow a blog for the first time you get flooded with all of their recent posts in your feed. That said, all you have to do is mark the posts you’re uninterested in as read and they’ll be pushed to the bottom of your feed on refresh. On the accessibility note, there are apps to access your feed from all Apple and Android devices, as a train-riding commuter I seriously appreciate this feature.

Setting Up BlogLovin’

Though BlogLovin’ is pretty intuitive lets quickly walk through the steps of setting up your account and following blogs!

  1. First step is super easy! Pop on over to bloglovin.com and click the signup link of choice (I prefer email personally but to each their own!).[one_half]Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 11.08.47 AM[/one_half] [one_half_last]Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 11.09.03 AM[/one_half_last]
  2. After you’ve set yourself up you’ll be asked to find some blogs you’d like to follow! You can peruse popular blogs and sift through categories if you’d like or if you’re impatient like me you can use the search bar (top right corner). [one_half]
    Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 11.09.38 AM[/one_half][one_half_last]

    Be sure to choose the right option! Following "Comments on" is not the same as following a blog

    Be sure to choose the right option! Following “Comments on” is not the same as following a blog

    [/one_half_last]

  3. You can always find out more about a blog by clicking on it’s name. BlogLovin’ will show you their recent posts and images so you can decide whether or not that blog is the right fit for you! (Ignore my dismal number of followers – I’m a blog on here as of roughly a couple of days…)Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 11.10.19 AM
  4. Should you want to unfollow someone: Click on the link to the Blog’s name (not the post name) in your feed. Then when on that posts page click on the button that says “following”. This will unfollow the blog.
    Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 11.36.47 AMScreen Shot 2014-04-14 at 11.36.21 AM

You’re good to go! Interested in getting your blog onto BlogLovin’? Read on!

Claiming Your Blog on BlogLovin’

Now what if you’re a blogger and want your blog to be indexed by this super fabulous site? First things first, you have to have an RSS feed set up for this to work. So if you haven’t done that yet you’ll want to.

  1. In your newly acquired BlogLovin’ account click on the little circle in between the search bar and the alert bell:Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 11.43.40 AM
  2. In the drop down menu click “your blogs”
    Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 11.14.17 AM
  3. Once the page loads click “Claim your blog” and in the search box that pops up (image on bottom) paste your full blog URLScreen Shot 2014-04-14 at 11.14.26 AMScreen Shot 2014-04-14 at 11.14.38 AM
  4. If you’ve got an RSS feed you’re blog should be recognized, select your blog and you’ll be given a snippet of code to paste into a new post (it will display as a BlogLovin’ button). I created a blank posting (if you do it this way, wait ’til off-hours so your readers aren’t confused) with the button in it, published it and then popped back over to BlogLovin’ to confirm that the connection had gone through.
  5. Once you make the connection to BlogLovin’ it may take a little while for all of your recent posts to be indexed. Don’t worry they will show up!

Note: If you can’t get your blog to appear in search, check out the support link for that here or for BlogLovin’s notes on claiming your blog look at this page.