Inspirational Woman Of The Day: Vandana Shiva

Inspirational Woman Of The Day: Vandana Shiva

Young Inspiration: A Bride’s Story

Young Inspiration: A Bride’s Story

Inspiration Of Motherhood

Inspiration Of Motherhood

Women’s Health

Women’s Health

A Message From The Creator

“Silence is the great teacher and to learn its lessons you must pay attention to it. There is no substitute for the creative inspiration, knowledge, and stability that come from knowing how to contact your core of inner silence.”― Deepak Chopra

Inspirational Woman Of The Day: Vandana Shiva

Emine Saner

The Guardian March 7, 2011

Article History

Environmentalist and founder of Diverse Women for Diversity

When Shiva, 58, and women villagers wrapped their arms around trees to prevent them being felled by commercial loggers, the name “tree hugger” was born. Since then Shiva’s influence on the global environmental movement has grown. Fascinated by physics, she went to the University of Western Ontario but left her formal scientific work when she was inspired by the non-violence of the Chipko movement. “My father had been a forester and I had grown up on those hills. I learned from the [peasant women] what forests mean for a rural woman in India in terms of firewood and fodder and medicinal plants and rich knowledge.” Shiva founded her Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in 1982, in a cow shed at the foothills of the Himalayas, to “serve the powerless not the powerful, which would not get all its cue from Western Universities and international institutions, but would also be open to learn from the indigenous knowledge of local communities”.

Her organisation promotes biodiversity, conservation and small farmers’ rights. She is an authority on globalisation and biodiversity, lobbying governments and challenging agriculture giants such as Monsanto.

She has been called naive, with critics saying her promotion of organic farming will not be able to support the world’s food needs, but Shiva has always said this is a short-term view. Vandana’s main theme is biodiversity – the power of agribusiness, she says, will lead to a domination of homogenous genetically-engineered seeds, that will eventually require farmers to use vast quantities of chemical fertilisers, pesticides and water. Farmers in developing countries will not reap the economic benefits of their harvests, she argues; instead, that will go to a handful of global companies who will also hold the future power of food security.

Describing herself as an ecofeminist, Shiva, who also founded the organisation Diverse Women for Diversity , says feminism and environmentalism are inseparable. “Women who produce for their families and communities are treated as ‘non-productive’ and economically inactive. The devaluation of women’s work, and of work done in sustainable economies, is the natural outcome of a system constructed by capitalist patriarchy. This is how globalisation destroys local economies and destruction itself is counted as growth.”

Young Inspiration: A Bride’s Story

Jennifer Miller


Last October, I stood on a tailor’s block at a fancy New York City bridal boutique for my third, and supposedly final, dress fitting. The seamstress brought out the flowing A-line gown made of English netting and lace, and I held my breath as I stepped into the cloud of fabric and she began to zip. The dress clung perfectly to my hips and torso-so far so good. But the sweetheart cups jutted out over my size-2 frame like a pair of gigantic pastry puffs. Pastry puffs minus the filling. Needless to say, this was not the ta-da moment I’d been hoping for.

My mother had spotted this dress within weeks of my engagement and forwarded me a video of the model gliding down the runway, the fabric floating lightly around her body. It was love at first sight, not to mention something of a wedding miracle; I must have been six the last time I’d felt this enthusiastic about one of my mother’s fashion suggestions. The fact that she had worn a dress by the same designer 30 years before at her own wedding only made it seem all the more fated.

But now that feeling of destiny felt more like doom. This was fitting number three, remember, and I’d been very specific from the start about wanting the dress to fit my body and hug my curves-such as they are. I’d been a 34A when the saleswoman wrapped the tape measure around my chest, and it was highly unlikely, barring thousands of dollars’ worth of plastic surgery, that I was going to have a sudden growth spurt in that area. “But that will ruin the integrity of the dress,” said the appalled saleswoman, as though the integrity of my body were utterly irrelevant. At the second fitting, when I tried to gently remind the Italian seamstress of what I’d requested, she just laughed and said, “All the other brides say they want double Ds. ‘Give me double Ds!’ they say.” She threw her hands up, half in jest and half in exasperation. “Don’t you want to look good for your husband?” asked another saleswoman.

“My husband knows what I look like under this dress,” I replied. “What is he going to think when I come down the aisle with breasts he’s never seen before?” I said this with a smile, but the truth was that I hadn’t felt so awkward about my A cups since junior high. Back then, saleswomen at Nordstrom routinely directed me toward the children’s department, and I had the distinction of being one of the only girls without a strapless dress at her own bat mitzvah. Most party dresses billowed out from my chest like deployed air bags. My mother is small-busted, too, so she had plenty of empathy for my situation on these ill-fated shopping expeditions. But where I was blindly optimistic (hauling clothes into the dressing room that could never fit or flatter), she harbored no such illusions. On one occasion I tried on a beautiful crushed-velvet dress with a scooped neck that sagged forlornly, as though the dress itself were upset at having such an ill-equipped body to show it off. But I refused to accept defeat, insisting, “Well, by high school, I’ll definitely be able to wear it.” My mom was silent, but her expression said it all. She’d been through this same struggle, and she didn’t want me getting my hopes up.

Soon enough, the world would teach me to see the (bra) cup as half empty rather than half full. By 14, I fumed with jealousy over my camp friends’ underwire bikinis and scowled at the supposed mortification of Molly Ringwald’s character in Sixteen Candles, when her grandmother exclaims to her grandfather, “Fred! She’s gotten her boobies!” I wanted to know when my grandmother was going to embarrass me like that. Jesus, Molly, I thought. At least you have boobies. I didn’t even want large breasts, just adequate ones. I decided 32Bs would be enough to wear the clothes currently in fashion—Empire waists and, lord help me, bodysuits. A friend of mine looked amazing in a black bodysuit and low-waisted jeans, but she had the right curves: beautiful breasts and a small waist. I was skinny, sure, but I was also straight. Like a ruler. Or a straw.

t seemed perfectly clear to me that this lack of boobage (as it was known in junior-high parlance) put me at a serious disadvantage when it came to the opposite sex. I was sitting in the hallway at school one particular day I’ll never forget when a boy walked by and said to his friend, “Jen will be pretty-once she fills out.” His comment confirmed my fear that I would never have a boyfriend without the right breasts. And even if I did, how would we ever get to second base? Could he find second base if it was virtually invisible? I imagined a poor boy frantically racing around a baseball diamond, searching for a landmark too small to see.

Some girls would have addressed the issue by making a beeline to Victoria’s Secret, but I had no interest in magic bras-Wonder, water, or otherwise. Every time I was on the verge of making such a purchase, I’d think of the frat guy in Animal House who tries to feel up his (heavily intoxicated) date and pulls fistfuls of tissue out from under her bra. Sexy! I wanted a boy to be attracted to my actual body-was that such a crazy idea? There were a few signs that it wasn’t. As it turned out, not one of the guys I dated in high school jumped back in horror after removing my shirt. If they were a touch disappointed, they at least had the sense to not let it show. In college, I started to meet men whose insistence that they genuinely preferred small breasts served as a novel and interesting pickup line. There were fewer guys out there who fit this description than the opposite, but their mere existence was encouraging.

An experience in my late teens also helped to boost my confidence. At 18, I was cast as a stripper-slash-cocktail-waitress in a school production of Cabaret. When it came time for costume assignments, the director instructed all the other stripper/waitresses to go buy black satin bustiers. After one quick appraising glance at my chest, she declared, “You can wear a sexy camisole.” I was mortified. She might as well have announced to the entire cast, “News flash! Jen Miller can’t fill out a bustier!” But when the show opened a few weeks later, a strange thing happened: I suddenly felt sexier than I had in my life, even in my nondescript camisole. I’d been so focused on my chest that I completely failed to appreciate my other assets. My legs, for example, looked long and shapely in my costume’s fishnet stockings and garter belt adorned with small black bows. And because I wore a different top than the other strippers, I stood out from the crowd. As an actor, albeit an amateur one, it was my job to convincingly play a sex bomb, breasts or no breasts. To my surprise, I discovered that exuding sexiness was far more important than having a conventionally sexy appearance.

put this knowledge to good use over the years and was feeling pretty content with my bust (or lack thereof) by the time I got engaged. My now-husband, it should be noted, is a self-described breast man. Before he proposed, he came out and admitted that one of the only reasons he could think of to not get married was the fact that he was sentencing himself to a long, if happy, life without gigantic gazongas. When I heard this, I was more surprised than disappointed, since Jason had never given any indication that he found my breasts lacking. In fact, just the opposite. It turns out he liked my breasts very much; he just wasn’t one of those men who actively preferred small chests over large ones. For my part, I’d always dreamed of settling down with a tall, macho cowboy type, but what is marriage about if not compromise? Finding our physical ideal was ultimately not as important as ending up with a partner who felt secure with his or her body. That’s what I find most attractive about Jason. He’s only five-seven, but he carries himself like that lanky cowboy I thought I wanted. I might only fit into a 34A cup (with room), but the Weimar-era sex bomb is in there when I need her.

Except around the time I was getting my wedding dress fitted, that self-assured woman vanished. While bra shopping, I started surreptitiously poking around in the drawers myself, too embarrassed to ask for a smaller size. I worried that the dress would never fit correctly and that the guests would whisper about me at the reception. I couldn’t stop thinking about my fiancé’s admission of preferring big breasts. What if he’d always, on some level, consider my body a disappointment?

All this was weighing on me as I showed up to my for-real-this-time final fitting. The seamstress helped me into the gown and zipped it up; I looked at myself in the mirror. At long last, the bust fit my body, and the dress could be considered ready for my big walk down the aisle. But I still left the boutique that day feeling deflated. I’d always imagined that shopping for a wedding dress would be a magical experience, as close as I would get to being a movie star on the red carpet at the Oscars. Instead, I felt like stuffing the dress in the nearest trash can and starting over from scratch.

I stood on the sidewalk outside the bridal boutique and looked up at the mannequins draped in lovely, opulent gowns. They all fit the mannequins perfectly, but the dresses themselves were artless on the stiff, plastic women. I’d grown up believing that my wedding dress would not just be perfect itself, but would also somehow make me perfect, if only for one night. Now I realized that I was responsible for making the dress look beautiful, not the other way around. It was a lesson I’d learned again and again growing up with a small bust: The size of my chest mattered far less than the amount of pride I put behind it. Apparently I needed to learn it one last time. And guess what? When the day came and I was walking down the aisle, I wasn’t thinking about my dress or my breasts. I felt beautiful for the simple fact that I was about to marry the man I loved-and who loved me.

I still think that my frustration over the fitting fiascoes was justified, but I also know that I shouldn’t have blamed everything on the pushy saleswomen alone. By holding on to some impossible ideal of what a wedding dress should be, I’d allowed my old insecurities to get the better of me. I let a few yards of fancy fabric undermine my confidence and make me doubt my fiancé’s attraction to me. And though the dress wasn’t perfect, the experience of shopping for it still brought out the most perfect version of myself. I’d held fast to my own idea of beauty, stood up for my own body, and reaffirmed a long-held belief that my breasts are simply a fact of my biology. They are one feature among many. Whether I choose to see them as a flaw or a matter of pride is entirely up to me.

This article was originally appeared in Allure.

Inspiration Of Motherhood

By Sandra Guzmán

WeNews guest author

For better or worse, many Latina moms’ intense nurturing is everlasting, particularly towards their daughters, says Sandra Guzmán in this excerpt from her book “The New Latina’s Bible.” This long umbilical cord is buried in tradition.

(WOMENSENEWS)–If your mother’s identity is like my mother’s identity, it’s tightly woven to her kids, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren, the food she cooks and the house she keeps.

My mother always worked outside the home, doing all kinds of odd jobs to put food on the table and clothes on our backs. At one time or another she worked as a hairstylist, a hotel maid, a pastelera (tamalera to some) and a sneaker seamstress.

But her greatest sense of achievement is having raised her children–two boys and three girls–by herself, children who today have successful careers and families of their own. Her greatest joy is cooking up a storm and feeding her family in the home she built with her life’s savings.

My mother is a chingona, as my Chicana sisters would say–a fierce Boricua warrior who never takes no for an answer. Though she has a small and stocky frame, in my eyes she was always an amazona. She taught me, by her unbreakable strength, resistance, perseverance and profound Christian faith, how to be the warrior that I am today. I have seen parts of my mother in so many Latina mothers I have met. We have been raised by truly fearless women who were in turn raised by awesome abuelas. They are emblems of our collective strength.

Time for Appreciation

However–and this is a big however–I didn’t always appreciate all that my mother was. In fact, my mother and I had so many fights growing up, I thought that as soon as I hit 18, I’d never see her again.

As a young Latina coming of age in America, I kept making choices that went against the grain of tradition. Nothing I ever did, except excelling in school, seemed to make her happy. The clothing I wore was ugly or weird; the way I styled my hair was freaky; the music I listened to was horrible; the friends I had were never good enough; and the “bad habits” I was picking up were offensive.

Many times I felt as if I were an alien in my own home. The fact that she didn’t speak English and I was quickly losing my Spanish made our communication even more difficult. It was so hard to explain myself to mami. She didn’t cut the umbilical cord for a very, very long time and, bless her heart, she still hasn’t stopped meddling in all of my affairs.

When I was young I spent years resenting her and our life together. Now that age and understanding have tempered my anger and I can appreciate the wisdom of the past, I see her for who she is. More important, I’m peaceful enough within myself that I can accept her as she is.

Our families tend to baby their kids longer than non-Latinos do. The way we nurture our children is one of the things I treasure in our culture. A Latina mother never, and I mean nunca, kicks her adult daughter out of the house so she can “discover the world” or “be out on her own.”

Latino parents are doting, loving and very protective, especially of their girls. However, the downside of this “Latina mama nurturing” is when babying and nurturing extend through college and into our adult lives. No matter how grown up we are, they refuse to “let go.” But this extended umbilical cord has an ancient tradition.

In an old custom practiced by the natives of the American Southwest and northern Mexico, the umbilical cord of a newborn girl is buried under the house so that she will never leave home or stray from her domestic duties. When I read about this, I checked with my mom to see if she’d ever heard of it. To my surprise, she told me that similar rites are performed regularly in Puerto Rico and most parts of the Spanish Caribbean, only it’s the placenta of a newborn girl that’s buried under the house to ensure that she’ll grow up to love the home!

My sister Mari, the only one of us not born in a hospital, suffered the effects of this tradición. My fisherman grandpa buried her placenta under his house a few hours after she was delivered and, as it turns out, Mari is absolutely the most hogareña of my mother’s three daughters–a real Martha Stewart type. My mom is convinced that the buried placenta is why Mari (unlike Wandi or me) is so “loving” of la casa.

Mari only recently found out about the fate of her placenta and wants to plan a trip to unearth the remains! The running joke in my family is that my placenta was thrown into the Caribbean.

Excerpted from “The New Latina’s Bible: The Modern Latina’s Guide to Love, Spirituality, Family, and La Vida,” by Sandra Guzmán. Available from Seal Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.

Women’s Health

By Barbara Seaman

WeNews guest author

Women Speak Up and Take Control of Their Health

Laura Eldridge, in a posthumous collaboration with Barbara Seaman, catalyst of 1970s health activism, has reissued the best writing on women’s health. Below, Seaman explains why she believed health activism is central to women’s rights.

(WOMENSENEWS)–When Elizabeth Cady Stanton decided to re-set her son’s collarbone in the mid-19th century she wasn’t trying to be radical, she was trying to be a good mother. She wasn’t trying to empower female healing and reject the mostly male medical establishment. She was trying to respond to the unalleviated pain of a cherished love one.

In addition to her tireless writing and activism, Stanton was a mother of five children. Never daunted, Stanton moved her writing desk into the nursery and worked in between spending time with her brood. When her eldest son Daniel was born with a dislocated collarbone, the Stantons tried to get him the best medical care. Repeated doctors’ visits resulted in bandaging and treatments that actually made the problem worse. When a nurse helping Daniel refused to respond to the fact that his hand was turning blue from the bandages, saying, “I shall never interfere with the doctor.”

Stanton sprang into action. She replaced the doctor only to be disappointed a second time. She wasn’t about to be fooled a third time, and, to the nurse’s shock, took off her son’s bandages and with arnica (a homeopathic remedy) and gentle pressure redressed her son’s bones. She concluded, “I learned another lesson in self-reliance. I trusted neither men nor books absolutely after this . . . but continued to use my ‘mother’s instinct,’ if ‘reason’ is too dignified a term to apply to a woman’s thoughts.”

Her decisiveness goes to the heart of women’s health activism. It is almost always born of personal experience, often a social injustice acted out on the body. It is inherently and un-self consciously radical. Throughout human history–and more recently the 19th and 20th centuries, we have witnessed brilliant and courageous examples of women taking control of their bodies and health choices. These experiences have often led to a greater sense of autonomy and equality. In many ways, it is an original rebellion.

In these days as we debate the basic right of human beings to have medical care, it is an often made point that one of the simplest ways to control a citizenry is through access to health services. Women have known this for a long time, and the process of coming to understand and reject this system of control often helps them to see themselves as independent agents in a larger sense.

In the 19th century, medical services were consolidated by doctors taken with new and changing medical technologies. As physicians and scientists pioneered surgeries, pharmaceuticals, and new mental health practices, they pushed out traditional (often female) providers, including midwives and makers of alternative medicines. Because these doctors were almost entirely male, they treated distinctively female body parts and health issues as disease. Male bodies were healthy and female ones were pathological. The 19th and early 20th centuries ideas of the hysterical woman appall our 21st century sensibilities, but they haven’t entirely gone away. The way that menopause has been treated as a disease state is evidence that while there is now a different language used to misinterpret and medicate women’s bodies, the tendency persists.

Early Models of Resistance

When Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the other first-wave feminists abandoned the recommendations of physicians, they were creating a model of resistance that lived on in small pockets of activism throughout the twentieth century and then was taken up again in major ways in the 1970s. I was lucky enough to be a part of that movement. When we talk about the “women’s health movement,” we are, of course, talking about many movements.

We can look to the work of women who writer Susan Brownmiller has termed our “heroic antecedents,” daring women in past centuries who stood up against a culture that discouraged open speech about health problems, or who provided alternative care when none was available. We can speak specifically about the second-wave women’s movement in the 1970s and look at the foundational writings that have changed the landscape of women’s health. And we can listen to the voices of young activists who help us to understand the new issues we face today.

So many of my friends recall sitting in rooms where secrets were shared among women. Typically any shameful feelings we may have had lifted as we learned that our private experiences often turned out to be universal.

I remember the voices: “Yes, I had an illegal abortion.” “Yes, I was raped.” “Yes, my neighbor (brother, father, uncle, priest, doctor, therapist, teacher) hassled me sexually.” “Yes, I faked orgasms.” “Yes, every birth control method I’ve ever used was a disaster.” “Yes, my gynecologist makes me feel uncomfortable, but I can’t admit it, he’s so esteemed. His pelvic exams are so rough it hurts.” “Yes, I took a drug that made me very sick, but my doctor told me to keep taking it.”

Women talked, listened, and spread the word. We went back to our communities, started our own women’s groups, consciousness-raising groups, and know-your-body courses. By 1975, there were nearly 2,000 official women’s self-help projects scattered around the United States and countless unofficial ones.

Do women talk less to each other now than they did then? The very possibility is troubling.

If I have a single hope for this book it is that the women who read it be inspired to talk among themselves about health, since women who talk to each other about health will go on to talk to each other about anything and everything.

Treatment for Quality Care

At the turn of the millennium, a Barnard College senior asked Judy Norsigian of Our Bodies, Ourselves what she hopes to see when the continuously updated volume celebrates its 50th anniversary in the year 2020. Norsigian answered, “The creation of a health and a medical care system that is far more responsive to women’s needs and accessible to all women regardless of age, income, sexual preference, race, etc.  .  .  And using technology in the most appropriate way–that is science-based, not profit-based .  .  .  People need to be in control of their own health. But in order for that to be possible, they must have information from a trustworthy source.”

I asked Cindy Pearson, executive director of the National Women’s Health Network, what she thinks about patients taking their health into their own hands. “Thirty years ago,” Pearson said, “if anyone talked about a bad experience they had with the health care system .  .  . the response would usually be ‘You need a better doctor .  .  . ‘” Today, in part through the hard-won battles of consumer advocates, AIDS activists and the feminist health movement, among others, that isn’t the only answer. Pearson continues, “People talked about finding a good doctor but then realized good doctors aren’t the answer, informed patients are the answer.”

I believe that within the yin and yang of these two thoughtful responses there is to be found the right approach: good science combined with leadership from the patients’ points of view. What makes a good doctor these days isn’t always easy to say. But if there is one quality we should all be looking for in our doctors, it is the willingness to listen seriously to their patients.

BIO: An author, women’s health activist, and energizing influence on hundreds of younger writers and organizers for nearly half a century, Barbara Seaman persistently challenged the medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies by exposing their drive for profit at the expense of women. She died of lung cancer in 2008.

A Message From Kim

A Message From Kim

%d bloggers like this: