Newest Miss Representation Trailer (2011 Sundance Film Festival Official Selection).

I am worried about the future of women. If you don’t understand, I don’t blame you—but if you’re a woman, go find a mirror. Take a long look at yourself. What is the first feature you notice about yourself? Likely it’s a physical trait. Is your reflection starting to get foggy? Are you comparing yourself to someone else in society? Many women’s mirrors fog up because they are comparing themselves to airbrushed advertisement models and societal images of what is “beautiful.”  I imagine a 13-year-old woman opening a beauty magazine, then tugging at her thighs and dreaming that “life would magically be better” if she only had that “majestic” thigh gap so many girls desire. This “foggy mirror” image of young women is why I am worried for the future.

However, there is some solace in knowing that I am not the only one who’s worried. A new documentary, Miss Representation, looks about how women are misrepresented and influenced by the mainstream media. A particularly exciting segment of the film focuses on “minute mentoring,” in which young women go from one successful women to another, asking for mentoring advice from each one.

“Women have the desire to be mentored,” says Jessica Shambora, one of the brains behind this mentoring initiative. “When women mentor each other, it is really powerful.” The girls in this film listen attentively to the women that spoke to them. Many of the girls said they felt empowered afterward, and energized simply by meeting successful women who take an interest in mentoring them.

However, girls still feel tension between their intellectual ability and their appearance.

“There is no appreciation for women intellectuals. It’s all about the body, not about the brain,” says Ariella, a high school student. “When is it going to be enough?” asks Maria, another high school student featured in the documentary.

Miss Representation shows how young women feel the constant pressures of the media: the sexualization of women in advertisements, the obsession over weight, the negative effects of social media. All play a key role in distorting the self-image of young women. But positive media can act as a mentor to clear up the fog.

Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the director of the film, has done a fabulous job creating awareness through cinematography. She imagines a world when her daughter can be confident with her own image, but also recognizes that we have a long way to go. The film features prominent women such as Rachel Maddow, Condoleezza Rice, and Jane Fonda, speaking about their experiences with media distortion through supposedly benign weight jokes, “bitch” jokes, and negative stereotyping. It’s time women ask themselves, When is it going to be enough?

Miss Representation has started many (positive) media campaigns to help raise awareness about this topic. “The Representation Project” on YouTube has videos about the media’s effect on young women. The videos are simple and appropriate for girls of all ages. The film’s website has several ways young women can get involved in the body-positive movement. It also features “media positive” advertisements for girls to watch and compare with mainstream ads—I call this media positive mentoring. If we show young women that their worth is not about their waistline or their appearance, a generation of women intellectuals can be nurtured. It’s time that young woman became just as “obsessed” about being a senator as they are about makeup products.

Everyone can be a media-positive mentor for the young women in our lives by asking girls questions about issues that really matter, by showing them that not all girls are judged by their appearance, by teaching them about successful women past and present, and by showing them how to break down barriers and stereotypes. One of the mentors from the Minute Mentoring program summed up their message simply: “To thy own self be true.”

Visit the Miss Representation web site and click on the link “Take Action” to find more ways to get involved.

 

[box]About the Author

Marissa Ranahan is a student and staff writer for OMSF.[/box]

 

 

[box]April 15th marks the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombing. Once again we can lean on the power of  music to heal our minds, ease tension, and free us from painful memories. For those who might struggle to cope on this day we would like to introduce you to a song written just for you by our dear friend Amanda Carr, and performed by her writing partner Charlie Farren.   Music transports us into a peaceful place and it can mentor us—it takes a heavy heart and makes it feather-light. These two iconic Boston Musicians are determined to use their song as a catalyst to rejuvenate the spirit. They hope to make their new song “Strong” an official Boston Anthem.

Boston Strong became  a mentoring mantra: the slogan appeared on thousands of T-shirts, the brain-child of two Emerson College students. “Strong” was inspired by the way our community came together to persevere through a difficult time. Recorded to help inject a positive message into a dark day, we are so proud to present a sneak preview of this song today. We are asking all our Over My Shoulder Foundation friends to share this post and let’s get “World Strong”. [/box]

 

Amanda Carr

Amanda Carr

Boston, MA (March 17, 2014) – Like so many of us, vocalist/musician and Boston native Amanda Carr was moved beyond words by the tragedy that shocked the world, the city and the people of Boston at the 2013 Boston Marathon. Now, just over a year later, she found words that articulate triumph over tragedy. Her new song, written by Carr and sung by Boston’s own Charlie Farren, is dedicated to the spirit and the resilience of the people of Boston and is called “Strong: A Boston Anthem.”A petition drive to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to adopt the song as Boston’s o!cial anthem is now underway at www.BostonAnthem.com where fans can also download the song for free and watch it on YouTube. It has been gaining fast momentum on social media since its release.

“After last year, I felt so compelled to do my part in helping the city to recover, but didn’t want to write just another ‘Boston Strong’ song that focused on the tragedy” says Carr. “My hope is that this song will be embraced as an actual Anthem that Boston can be inspired by and call its own that, while paying tribute to all those who were a”ected by last year’s bombings, focuses more on our renewed spirit and unifies us as Bostonians.”

“Strong: A Boston Anthem” pays tribute to the resilient Boston spirit with lyrics like: “My town is made of Blood and Steel, its heart is beating like a drum” and “now we live to tell the story of our hopes, our strength, our glory”.

Says Carr, “This song speaks to everything that makes our city so great—our strength, our perseverance and our ability to move on but never forget.”

For more information on Amanda Carr and “Strong: A Boston Anthem” visit www.bostonanthem.com.

 

[box]Singer-songwriter-mentor-performer-mother-philanthropist-healer: meet  my beautiful friend, rock icon Robin Lane. Like many aspiring female rockers, I sat glued to MTV ( when it was actually about music) waiting for my favorite videos. One of theses was by Robin Lane & The Chartbusters—their big song, “When Things Go Wrong.”  Years later Robin still writes, sings, and performs. She also dedicates much of her time to supporting people when things go wrong in their lives. Her nonprofit organization, Songbird Sings, uses songwriting and music to mentor people who have been through difficult experiences, such as sexual abuse, domestic violence, and human trafficking.

Now Robin Lane’s life story is about to come to the big screen, in a new film by Tim Jackson—named after the big song—and we are very pleased to have Larry Katz interview Robin just a few days before the movie premiere and benefit this Friday, April 4, at the Regent Theater in Arlington, MA.[/box]

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 12.46.14 PM“When Things Go Wrong,” the new film about Robin Lane, includes all the elements you expect to find in the story of a rock musician’s life.

Troubled childhood? Check.

Wild teen years? Check.

A shot at stardom with a major label record deal? Check.

The band’s breakup and the hard times that inevitably follow? Double check.

It’s all there in “When Things Go Wrong,” a new film which will be seen for the first time on Friday, April 4 at 7 p.m. at the Regent Theater in Arlington, MA, a premiere benefit screening that will include a live performance by Lane and her former band, the Chartbusters.

But—spoiler alert—the movie does not end with either the rehab stint or triumphant comeback found in your typical “Behind the Music”-style rock doc. These days Lane, the queen of the Boston new wave scene circa 1980, has found a new venue for her voice and guitar: leading songwriting workshops as a way to help victims of sexual and domestic abuse, at-risk teenagers, prison inmates, and the elderly.

While what Lane does in her workshops is a form of music therapy, she is quick to point out that she is neither a therapist nor a counselor.

“I’m a facilitator,” she said from her rural home in Western Massachusetts. “I facilitate these situations where people can, through songwriting, find a key out of their dilemma—a key to their own healing capabilities. My role is really just to help them find a way to write a song, to help them to heal themselves and get out of whatever they’re in that’s dangerous and not good for their lives.”

It’s not a job she consciously pursued, at least not at first, but it’s one that Lane has found herself eminently well-qualified for. Music, after all, had always been her own lifeline.

“I’d been writing songs for years,” she said, “and didn’t realize why. I’d always loved music, but if I hadn’t had songwriting I would be scared to think of what would have happened to me.”

Lane’s life story has more than its share of mental and physical hurt. Distant parents. Sexual assault. Domestic violence. Divorce. And a tantalizingly close, ultimately frustrating brush with stardom. When the first two Robin Lane and the Chartbusters albums failed to sell as much as expected, the band was tossed aside by their label, Warner Brothers. And after Lane gave birth to a daughter, Evangeline, she found she was no longer considered a serious contender in the male chauvinist rock world of the 1980s.

“I raised my child,” Lane said of her post-Chartbusters years. “Got married again. Had a couple of dogs. Played around. Made the ‘Catbird’ CD [ed. 1995]. Then I got divorced, around 1999.”

And almost without realizing it, she was embarking on a new career as a songwriting mentor.

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[box] We are thrilled to feature this inspirational interview between Larry Katz and Sam Polk. It’s incredible the way a mentor at the right time can pry us open, leaving just enough space for the light to shine in, providing enough leverage for the next unexpected mentor to step up. Enjoy![/box]

 

Sam Polk

Sam. Photography courtesy of Sam Polk.

Would you walk away from a job that paid millions?

Sam Polk did.

Four years ago Polk was working for a Wall Street hedge fund. When he received a $3.8 million bonus on top of a $1.5 million salary, Polk reacted with anger. He demanded that his bosses increase his bonus to $8 million. They raised their offer, but only if he agreed to stay with the firm for several more years.

Polk refused. He said he didn’t want to make the commitment.

But the bonus amount wasn’t the reason Polk quit his job. He had come to believe he was an addict hooked on making money—and it didn’t feel good.

Polk tells his compelling story in “For the Love of Money,” an essay published in January on the front page of the New York Times’ Sunday Review. It attracted far more notice than he expected.

“I had no idea of the impact it would have,” Polk said from Los Angeles, where he has launched Groceryships, a non-profit he has co-founded with his wife to provide needy families with “scholarships for groceries.”

“I’ve gotten over 10,000 emails,” he said. “I’ve been interviewed and been on all these radio and TV shows. It’s been overwhelming and shocking.”

In his New York Times story, Polk outlines how he came to understand the wisdom of that old saying, “Money can’t buy happiness.” It wasn’t an easy lesson, especially since he grew up being told the exact opposite. Polk’s salesman father, he writes, “believed money would solve all his problems.” Then, while attending Columbia University, Polk read in “Liar’s Poker” how a young Michael Lewis made hundreds of thousands as a Wall Street bond trader. He somehow missed the book’s dark side.

“My heroes,” Polk said, “were people who had made billions of dollars and risen to the top of Wall Street.”

A very different set of heroes would emerge later in Polk’s life—unexpected mentors who would profoundly alter his definition of success and a well-lived life. We wanted to know more about these influences and Sam Polk was happy for the opportunity to tell us about them.

Continue Reading…