The Ultimate Guide On How Not To Behave At A Wedding

As a wedding guest, there are certain standards of behavior that the bride and groom expect you to uphold.

Unfortunately, sometimes people leave their common sense at home. They'd be wise to check this Reddit thread that emerged Wednesday, which asked folks "What should you absolutely not do at a wedding?" and garnered over 16,000 comments.

If you don't have time to read all those, we did the hard work for you. Here are 17 things you should never do on the big day, lest you want to be hated forever.

1. "Do not bring up the subject of the groom's ex-wife, especially in a speech."

2. "Stick your finger in the cake."

3. "Pick up all the flowers the flower girl drops."

4. "Grill the bride and groom about when they are having children... I'm paying for your drinks is it that hard to just say congratulations?!"

5. "Get in the photographer's way, or take your own flash photos during the ceremony."

6. "I'm a divorce attorney. I've been told NOT to hand out business cards at weddings."

7. "If you are in the bridal party, don't get smashed before the wedding toasts/dinner. I went to a wedding where one of the groomsman passed out at the head table during speeches."

8. "Show up if you didn't RSVP/said you weren't coming."

9. "Organize a wager amongst the guests. They can bet how many weeks the marriage will last."

10. "Get drunk and blurt out something like 'I slept with your wife!'"

11. "Hit on the bride."

12. "My mother in law stood up at my wedding reception and said 'This marriage between Henry and what's her name is never going to last.' I am 'what's her name.' Don't do that. I'm still angry 13 years later."

13. "Drink a quart of whiskey before the ceremony, refuse to put on a shirt during the ceremony and then sit in your car and blast techno the whole time because you were asked to leave. Someone did this at a wedding I was at on Saturday."

14. "Never stop the ceremony to propose to your girlfriend. Sure you'll have free pictures and video of it, but everyone will be pissed at you forever."

15. "If you are a bride, DON'T HOLD ANY BABIES. They are going to shit/piss/vomit/bleed/cry all over you."

16. "Request the DJ play 'The Rains of Castamere'."

And for the win:

17. "Don't bring random not significant partners to your friends wedding ... one of our groomsmen asked to bring the girl he had recently started dating ... a few years later, long after they had broken up, our friend bumped into her brother. He asked how she was doing. Brother's response? 'Not good man, she's in jail for life. She murdered our mother.' And that is how I came to have a murderer in my wedding photos."

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Virtual BFFs

I have never met some of my best friends.

In recent years, less and less people I say this to find it weird. But 10 years ago when I was a shy high schooler discovering the wonders of online gaming, it was a lot stranger to say that I counted people living on another continent among my closest friends. My real life friends and family didn't understand how you could develop a deep, meaningful connection without looking someone in the eye, shaking hands, hugging, sharing a meal.

I, on the other hand, didn't understand how people related in real life. Staring at a roomful of strangers, how could you tell who liked the same things as you or had a similar personality? You could try to guess based on their looks, but when I raved to goth kids at school about a heavy metal band from Finland I received blank stares, and while I did geek out with the nerds about the newest Lord of the Rings movie, none of them had read the books first.

Online, it was easy to find people who understood me. I had stumbled across a simple text-based role-play site with no graphics, which meant it consisted of several hundred people writing stories together on a Yahoo group (anyone else remember those?). Players listed their interests in their profiles. Most of them listened to similar music to me -- obscure gypsy punk and Nordic metal opera bands.

And everyone liked to write. I had never met other serious writers before. The kids in school raised their eyebrows when I retreated to a corner to scribble frantically in a notebook. In the game, though, writing was more than a solitary exercise, more than telling a story. When you write a role-play, you're also acting. Assuming the role of your character, viewing life through the eyes of your creation.

I could be anyone I wanted to be, so I chose to write a confident, outgoing prankster woman. Pretty much the opposite of the shrinking wallflower I'd become in real life. But my character must have been believable, because other characters were drawn to her. Soon I'd accumulated a whole group of friends who referred to me as their "mama bird," the one they went to for advice and comfort.

We began to talk about our real lives too. I was careful about it (this was before online dating took off, back when the only stories you heard about meeting people from the Internet involved kidnap and murder). I never revealed my address or surname. But unlike on TV, the adults in the game were honest about their age.

I had conversations that would've been surreal in any other situation -- like the couple in their 50s I talked to throughout their separation and reunion, or the 40-something woman I considered a role model, who tragically lost her son a few years into our acquaintance. I met kids younger than me out in the Midwest who were stockpiling every spare penny for college; a guy from China who couldn't access half of our websites because of the Chinese Internet security laws. I talked to a sixty-something West Coast woman battling cancer -- a battle she eventually lost, much to our sorrow. I bonded with a UK player struggling with her identity after she accidentally fell in love with another girl in the game. I met a girl from Malaysia who was studying for her doctorate in the Ukraine. I'm invited to her wedding next year, which will be the first time we'll meet in person.

I dated a boy living in Glasgow; then fell head over heels for a British guy in Newcastle, who I very nearly married years later. I took a road trip to an older couple's campsite in Missouri to party with 30 of our game friends from all corners of the globe (including an Icelandic guy who professionally reenacted Viking battles).

Every time I've met one of those online friends (close to a hundred by now), they've been exactly how I'd imagined them.

Computer screens can let you remain anonymous, yes. There are creeps online, just as there are creeps hiding in plain sight in the real world too. But much in the same way that the divider in a confessional allows you to open up, or masquerade balls give you the confidence to dance with the person you'd be afraid to ask otherwise, the anonymity of the Internet was freeing for shy high school me.

10 years ago, I invented an outgoing, life-of-the-party character through whom I lived vicariously. Today, living in New York City with a huge network of friends (both here and around the globe), I have become that character.

The shy wallflower inside still rears her head when I show up alone at a party or attend an awkward networking event. But if the Internet has taught me anything, it's that if you inhabit a character long enough you will become it. Write who you want to be, embody that person, and you'll find true friends, both online and off.

15 Things Every Couple MUST Discuss Before Getting Married

I've been writing an advice column in some shape or form for close to 10 years now, and I can say with confidence that at least 75 percent of the letters I receive from married people are about issues that could have been avoided if the couples had better communicated their expectations about married life before tying the knot. Letters like one I answered recently in which the husband and wife had drastically different ideas on where they'd like to raise a family are, sadly, not uncommon. But they'd be much more of a rarity if couples would discuss these 15 issues before getting married:

1. Outstanding debt.
Who has some and what is the plan for paying it off?

2. Children.
Do you want them? If so, how many? If not, are you sure enough about that decision to take permanent steps to ensure you don't have them (like a vasectomy)? If you do want them, when do you want to have your first? Are you open to adoption or fertility treatments if you're unable to conceive naturally? How long do you want to try to conceive naturally before trying different options?

3. Location, location, location.
Where do you want to put roots down? And if you don't want to put roots down and would prefer to stay on the move indefinitely -- my parents, for example, raised me and my sister in three different countries (none of which was the U.S., where they were raised) -- make sure your partner is on board with that idea. How would you rank location in terms of importance for your well-being? If you love where you live, what would persuade you to move -- a job offer, desire to be closer to family, better schools for your kids?

4. Religion.
If you practice a religion or have a particular faith, how important is it that your partner share the faith and practice it with you? How does your religion or faith affect your lifestyle? If you plan to have kids, what religion, if any, do you want to raise them in?

5. IKEA.
Marriages are broken in the aisles of IKEA every day. Do not underestimate the power of the Swedish smorgasbord of cheap, disposable home goods. If you and your partner plan to spend even a minute of your marriage in IKEA, decide whether a $40 book shelf is worth the two or three years from your life it may cost you.

6. Dream home.
Do you want a McMansion in the 'burbs? A cozy condo in the sky? A beach bungalow? A cabin in the woods? A macked-out tree house? A ranch in Utah? You may never live in your dream home, but knowing whether you and your significant other share common long-term goals will help solidify your roles as partners in each other's lives and confirm that you're working toward the same thing.

7. Bank accounts and bill-sharing.
Will you share a bank account? Keep individual accounts? Both? And what bills will be paid by what accounts? Will you each put a certain percentage of your income toward shared bills? Do you have an emergency fund? What if one person is out of work or decides to stay home to raise the kids? What's your plan for affording that?

8. Division of household labor.
Dishes, laundry, yada, yada, yada. Barter, negotiate and plead if you have to so that you aren't stuck doing the thing you least like all the time. If you hate, hate, hate washing dishes, but don't mind cooking, suggest to your partner that you head meal preparation if he or she agrees to take on the dishes. This works best if the thing you hate with a passion isn't also the same thing your partner hates with a passion. If it is, find a way to compromise, using your best negotiation tactics "Okay, I'll empty the litter box and do the laundry if you please wash the dishes..."

9. Sex.
Do you want to sleep with just one person for the rest of your life? Can you and still be happy and satisfied? If not, you need to discuss either the possibility of an open marriage, strategies for keeping the spark alive, or waiting on marriage until the idea of monogamy isn't a death sentence for you.

10. Hard or soft.
Your mattress! You will (hopefully) be sleeping in the same bed as this person for a very, very long time, and a comfortable mattress is imperative for a good night's rest. Rack up too many sleepless nights and your relationship will suffer. So, if you and your partner have different ideas of what makes a comfortable mattress, how will you compromise?

11. Family obligations.
How much time do you spend with your family now, how much do you expect to spend with them once you're married and potentially have children, and how much time do you expect your spouse to spend with them (and vice versa)? How do you plan to spend your holidays and what's your plan for giving both sets of families equal time with you/your children during the major holidays? Are you the type of person who likes to vacation with your family, and if so, how often?

12. Vacations.
In addition to extended family vacations, you and your partner need to discuss what other types of vacations you do or don't enjoy. If you're a Disneyland fan and your significant other hates Mickey Mouse with a passion, that may cause some friction. If one of you only likes camping and the other prefers staying in chic boutique hotels, there's an issue. Likewise, if the workaholic in your relationship can't bear to be too far away from the office while the other would like to get as far away from home as possible, you need to talk through how you're going to compromise. You can't expect to plan all your vacations for the rest of your life together, but discussing some solutions that you're both OK with will help you address friction in the future.

13. The name game.
What's your family name going to be? Will one spouse take the other spouse's last name? And if not, what surname will you give any kids you have?

14. Career.
How committed is each of you to your careers? Do you live to work or work to live? How will your respective careers affect family life? Where are you in terms of living a "dream career"? Do you have more schooling and apprenticing to finish? If so, what's the time frame for completing these steps toward obtaining the kind of job you hope for? What kind of personal sacrifices will you have to make to climb the career ladder of your choice?

15. TV in the bedroom: Yay! Or nay?
Think of the TV in the bedroom as a metaphor for your whole marriage. Do you want a method of escape or to protect the intimacy? Neither answer is right or wrong, but answering yourselves the question before you get married could provide a valuable insight into how you picture your married life together.


How Alexandra Elle, Our Mom Of The Month, Refused To Be Merely A ‘Statistic’

To her 200,000+ international social media followers, Alexandra Elle (as Alexandra Smith is more commonly known) is the face of pure bliss.

On any given day, her Instagram feed showcases her 6-year-old daughter Charleigh’s (pronounced Charlie) toothy smile, while a tweet proclaims a truism from her bestselling book, “Words From a Wanderer.” (“If you are unsure of who you are, you will easily get lost in others.”) Collectively her digital output encourages self-love and resilience and regularly doles out positive affirmations.

“I try my best to only spread words and images that will incite happiness, positivity, love, and peace among people,” Alexandra explains. “It’s part of my personality.”

Despite the cheer of her online persona, the self-published poet and author endured dark formative years which bear little resemblance to her current circumstances. An early high school graduate who enrolled in community college when she was 17, Alexandra grew up an old soul. But Alexandra soon found herself in the most adult of circumstances—unexpectedly pregnant.

“I was kind of [a] statistic: young, African-American woman pregnant by age 18, you know what I mean?” Alexandra says now. “I was depressed and lost a lot of weight even during my pregnancy. During what she calls “probably my worst point,” Alexandra’s mother suggested she get a late-term abortion. (“I’m pro-choice, but I said no because that is really, really not a good thing,” she says.)

While her intuition and family tugged her in the opposite direction, the father of her child ultimately convinced her to go through with the pregnancy. Even with the psychological toll her pregnancy took on her, Alexandra was able to transition smoothly into her new role as a mother—Charleigh’s peaceful demeanor definitely helped, she says. Integrating her new lifestyle with her friends', however, wasn’t as easy.

"I was a parent and a lot of the people I was friends with were single with no kids, so our priorities were different,” she recalls. “My personality was [also] changing; I was becoming more self-aware, more spiritual, more at peace with myself, and I think I was using the crowd I was with as a crutch. I had to steer into my path and purpose to prepare to be the best mother and woman I could be."

What’s your partner’s relationship like with Charleigh?

[Ryan] just moved 3,000 miles from Los Angeles, California, to be with us. I’m really excited to see how they grow their relationship together. Even when he wasn’t here, he was FaceTiming her, sending her books, and showing her that she was just as important as mommy was. So when they met for the first time last year, she instantly just clung to him. The love they have for one another is special to me.

Do you see more children in your future?

Oh, yes. If I could have it my way, three more. But I’ll settle for two if I can only get two. Ryan wants children too and we are excited to start a family with each other. It’s going to be awesome to have a partner I can go through pregnancy [with]—doctors’ appointments together, taking Charleigh along, having them watch my belly grow... It’s just going to be amazing.

Read more of Alexandra's story and meet these other amazing mothers at

All photos courtesy of Erika Salazar.

Am I ‘Just’ a Mom?

"So, what do you do?"

It was 6:47 a.m..

Sweat was pouring down my arms and legs, and the soft pink haze of dawn had just begun to illuminate Tampa Bay.

We were about to do final stretches when my new boot camp buddy asked the question.

"What do you do?"

Oh boy.

There are so many ways to answer that.

I was a TV news reporter, but not anymore.

I have a website. But, it's not a source of income.

I keep humans alive all day, but I work for free.

I don't have a "real job," but I never get a break.

I wanted to give a good answer. Something that conveyed what I do, but was easy to understand.

I looked down and pretended to flick off specks of dirt off my exercise mat.

What should I tell you about what I do?

I teach babies to wave. To say "hi." To point to the dog.

I kiss boo-boos.

I clean up dinner dishes, kid butts and dog accidents all day long.

I do laundry. And occasionally fold it.

I clean up milk spills and wipe spaghetti-coated faces.

I make up silly games and hold dance parties.

I know our toddler's favorite book, the baby's favorite food and the exact right time to start dinner so no one's hungry.

I take kids to the doctor, to playdates, to church, to the park, the library.

I'm why our family members have a gift on their doorstep for birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day and Christmas.

I do the grocery shopping, the kid chauffeuring, the hair-cutting, the cooking and the majority of the cleaning.

I manage the money my husband earns for our family, plan for retirement and manage our rental homes.

I'm the reason our 3-year-old says "please" and "thank you" -- and "are you OK?" whenever someone seems a little forlorn.

I'm the person who delights in running my fingers over my children's perfectly-soft foreheads as they sit next to me, completely oblivious, watching TV.

I'm the person who watches my children sleep, and weeps tears of gratitude as I thank God for the blessing of their lives.

And, I'm the person who carried these precious gifts inside my own body for 9 months. And then sustained them for a year more.

I don't mean to brag, but I do so many things.

Things that are relevant. And important. And valuable.

And invisible.

To everyone but me, my two kids and my husband.

I should have come up with a witty response. Something clever and funny.

But I didn't.

Without thinking, I blurted out the first thing that entered my mind:

"I don't have a job. I just take care of my kids."

And there it was.

I should have said it differently.

I should have made it sound better.

I should have said more.

"Just a mom."

In truth, I'm "just a mom" as much as President Obama is "just a politician" or Martha Stewart is "just a decorator."

That's not to say that I'm the best. That's not to say I'm perfect.

But what I do is so much more than just one word.

Formerly an Emmy-nominated TV news reporter, Janie Porter is the creator of and (often-unshowered) stay-at-home mama to two boys under 3 years old. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter for more posts about less-than-perfect parenting, juice and smoothie recipes and tips on finding your inner glow.

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Media Cleanse: Results Guaranteed

If you are like many people, you probably spend your average three-minute wait in the supermarket checkout line skimming the magazine headlines that cover the aisle. If you are like me, what you find on those magazine covers makes you want to close your eyes until you reach the cashier. From Photoshopped cover models to tabloid headlines criticizing some celebrity's makeup-free face, what I see in that aisle often has my own confidence suffering by the time the cashier asks for my rewards card.

According to Dove's 2010 report The Real Truth about Beauty: Revisited, 72% of girls feel tremendous pressure to be beautiful. What does this statistic look like? Girls touch up photos before posting them on social media; they diet and wear make-up in middle school; they worry about what they wear to class as much as the class itself.

Let the finger-pointing begin. We blame bullying, bad parenting and boys for the way girls grow up lacking confidence and with an obsessive interest in their appearance. Well, consider this: The average child between the ages of 8 and 18 consumes about seven hours' worth of media every day. (Kaiser Family Foundation). That means that from as early on as elementary school, girls are drowning in the words and images that make me cringe every time I am at the supermarket.

The other day, I passed by a group of middle school-aged girls at my community pool. One held out her cell phone to her friends, "see, I told you she got fat."

According to, 5% of women naturally have the body type portrayed in popular American media. Not only do we teach girls that their looks are their value, but we tell 95% of those girls that the way they look is wrong. Ninety-five percent.

This media-saturated era is raising a generation of women who view each other as competition instead of friends, who prioritize outer looks over health, and who sacrifice happiness in a lifelong battle for unattainable perfection.

The internet is littered with the consequences.

Log onto Tumblr and search the term "skinspo" (it's an abbreviation for "skinny inspiration") and you'll find a community of women desperately trying to attain the body of the 5%. Quotes like "gyms cost money, starving is free," confessions of self-hatred and "progress" photos fill the screen.

Search @YouDidNotEatThat on Instagram. The account re-posts photos of "perfect-bodied" people posing with pizzas, cheeseburgers and face-sized cookies, mocking them for even suggesting they would actually eat these foods. Along with its 130,000 enthusiastic followers, "You Did Not Eat That" does just the opposite of the "skinspo" community: it shames women -- and a few men -- with that 5% body and jokes about unhealthy relationships with food. Word on the street is that the account is run by a woman.

Just as we encourage each other's unhealthy methods of grasping at the media's beauty standards, we tear each other down should we attain them.

People have always said that "we are what we eat." This is still true, but in the 21st century we are also what magazines we read, what photographs we look at, what cosmetics we don't leave the house without, and what pant size we wear.

The fact that the average American woman has a 37-inch waist (CDC) -- that's around a size 14 -- won't make a difference to the average 16-year-old fashion-obsessed girl until the media she consumes every day starts to reflect this reality.

Luckily for the Instagram-selfie generation, the "Campaign for Real Beauty" launched by Dove in 2004 is finally starting to catch on. "Aerie," the lingerie brand owned by American Eagle Outfitters and geared toward a young-adult customer, has been promoting "#aerieREAL," with messaging "the real you is sexy." Does this solve the way girls prioritize attractiveness? Maybe not, but it is a step in a positive direction.


Still, though, I loathe the checkout line at the supermarket. Even more, I loathe running into someone in that line who will comment on my appearance ("you look thin!", "I love your makeup!") before asking about school or work.

Here's the bottom line. A friend of mine has 10-year-old twin siblings, a boy and a girl. I asked them what they wanted to be when they grow up. The boy said a scientist; the girl said a celebrity.

When girls grow up believing we are our appearance, and when the media glorifies -- and bombards us with -- an appearance that is so unrealistic, we are set up for dissatisfaction, low self-esteem and a less-fulfilled life.

Trust me, ladies, the cleanse we really need doesn't involve cayenne pepper drink or green juice.

Put Your Money to Work!

It's tempting to fixate on the dollar amount of your paycheck. But the fact is: What matters far more is what you do with those dollars -- and what you allow those dollars to do for you over time. True financial freedom doesn't happen until you've put your money to work for you.

It's not just about increasing your salary but about applying some of that salary to building your net worth. By definition, net worth equals your assets minus your liabilities. Simply put: It is what you own minus what you owe. (I believe Benjamin Franklin described it best when he said, "Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.")

Are You Living Without A Financial Safety Net?
According to, approximately 75 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck with little to no emergency fund. Not only are they walking a fine line between financial ruin and survival, they are also creating a self-fulfilling prophecy that will have them working until their very last breath.

It doesn't have to be this way.

Rather than bore you with mathematical formulas or fancy financial lingo, let me just say this: If you do your part your money will work harder -- for you -- than you ever imagined.

It's as simple as putting down your credit card and saying "no" to the temptation of an extra shopping trip to Target, one too many nights out with friends or a shoe binge at Nordstrom. (I confess, I too like Jimmy Choo!) Even with as little as $3.50 per day, $25 per week or $100 per month in your budget, you can create wealth.

Turn $100 Per Month Into $260,000 in Savings
Let's assume that, starting at the age of 25, you took that $100 per month and opened an IRA account that allowed for retirement savings with tax-deferred growth. Let's also say you invested that IRA in an S&P Index Fund and consistently did this -- month after month, year after year -- until retiring at the age of 65. That mere $100 a month over 40 years would total $48,000. Not too shabby. However, thanks to the concept of compounding, the actual balance in your IRA account would amount to nearly $260,000! (That's based on an inflation adjusted compound annual growth rate of seven percent.) Beautiful, eh?

Sure, you worked hard for that $48,000 but not nearly as hard as that same $48,000 worked for you -- it generated almost four and half times more money.

Now imagine the impact of cutting out two, three or four bad habits per month -- perhaps even saving enough to invest the maximum allowed in an IRA each year ($15 per day, $458 per month or $5,500 annually, if you're 49 years old or younger). Using the same annual return rate and inflation rate, your new balance in that same IRA account could amount to as much as $1,175,000. Yet, the total dollar amount that you actually worked for was only $220,000. Pretty cool stuff!

It's Never Too Late To Start
Obviously, not everyone is 25 and has the luxury of time on their side. But keep in mind, you actually have more time than you think. With the average life expectancy of a woman being about 80 to 86 years old, there is still a lot of muscle left in your dollar. And there is no time like the present to put your money to work.

Here is a simple, three-step program for building your net worth:

Step One: Open up an account.
IRAs have tremendous tax advantages and are terrific retirement vehicles; however, the same math can apply to investment accounts with a bit more liquidity.

Step Two: Set up monthly, automatic withdrawals.
The actual amount you invest isn't the most important factor - it's the commitment to be consistent. Not only do monthly contributions eventually add up, they enable you to effectively ride out fluctuations in the market. This is the "dollar cost averaging" principle and a proven technique designed to reduce market risks.

Step Three: Be disciplined, focused and patient.
A significant increase to your net worth doesn't happen overnight. Just as in Aesop's Fables parable of "The Tortoise and the Hare," slow and steady wins the race. Remember your long-term goal of financial stability and freedom.

For more information on women and money, please visit

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I’m Not a Chill Girl

By Kristin Salaky

There's a lot that I admire about people I meet. Not just my friends, but people that encounter in my daily life -- baristas, partners in group projects, my friends' friends -- that all possess qualities that I would love to have. Some are gorgeous, others are talented and some of those a**holes are even both. But, there is one specific type of lady that I will never understand and I know that I will never be -- the chill girl.

The chill girl is some manifestation of manic pixie dream girl, without the manic. She rocks white t-shirts and leggings nearly as a uniform -- when she's not rocking the homemade tie-dye that comes out like Jesus himself had screen-printed it. She doesn't yet have a major or it's probably something like ethical farming practices or anything that is going to make the world a better place, but still allow her a life. Chill people say they don't care about politics and totally mean it -- and people applaud them for it. Because, like, who actually needs it, right? It sounds so good when they say it! People applaud lots of what she does because she's such a chill nice girl that really nothing about her makes you feel at all uneasy. I guess her male counterpart would be a surfer or a painting teacher.

I, unfortunately, was not born with this set of traits. I'm a nice person... I swear. But, my voice is naturally a scream. I'm shushed daily, probably hourly. I must be in a constant state of running because I'm always falling over my own two feet. I worry constantly about my career and trust me -- you will know how I feel about politics. My voice is usually hoarse from screaming Beyoncé lyrics and I have a temper.

I beat myself up sometimes because I know a lot of these types of ladies and gents in passing and I know nothing is wrong with either of us, but I still find myself trying to bring my (energy) level down to theirs. I try to make less manic facial expressions and not correct the random drunk dude in the bar's assumptions about the Hobby Lobby ruling (birth control dosage does not need to be upped because a woman has multiple sexual partners and, plus, the ruling was more about corporations' religious rights, okkaaaaay?!). I feel my friends cringe when I get into it with people or can't let things go.

How do you do it, chill people? How do you take things with a grain of salt when I can't help but feel like taking things with an entire salt lick? How do you remain ethereal when walking into a Trader Joe's directly after work ends?

I like to think that my manic ways make me who I am, but it would be nice to... I dunno... get a breather from my own personality sometimes. I've tried yoga and meditation, but I have this irrational fear of guided meditations that I find on the Internet because I think someone is going to yell in the middle as a joke. You can tell I don't think much of people, huh?

It's pretty safe to say that no one will ever compliment me on my ability to be "chill" and "kick it," mostly because I have no idea what it means to do that. I told my friend today that I believe that if I'm stagnant, I'll die. But then I realized that is not me, that is sharks.

So, chill people of the world, I salute you. Enjoy your world of green tea, fair trade kombucha and "chill vibes." I'd envy you, but I'm probably too busy trying to pass the slow person on the subway platform.

Originally posted on Literally, Darling an online magazine by and for twenty-something women, which features the personal, provocative, awkward, pop-filled and pressing issues of our gender and generation. This is an exact representation of our exaggerated selves.

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Fugs and Fabs: The 2014 Life Ball

Life Ball 2014 (10)

Competitive vs. Creative: Three Steps to Avoid Sleeping With the Enemy and Establish Collaboration Success

The principles of collaboration are wrapped tightly in the garb of our technological revolution. Collaboration has remained and always has been what we deem now "relationship marketing." The nuance of the collaborative relationship rests in the identification of a profitable outcome. It is merely an exchange of value for value.

In my opinion, things get twisted when a collaborative effort is started on the premise of eliminating the competition. This is a false premise based on the attitude that one entity is against another. In the world of internetivity (seems I coined a new termed), we are creating instant connectivity through the internet and our reach is only as far as the next key stroke. The whole concept of finding partners is easier than the early days of the internet when trust was the primary factor for determining if a collaborative partnership was feasible. In today's online community, there are authorities that help us to measure the success of a brand and establish much faster if an entity would be a viable collaborative partner. However, the element of creating the relationship with the entity's owner is still a necessary factor.

I have established many collaborative partnerships during my entrepreneur career. Most worked out beautifully, while others were not so favorable. I formed my first collaborative partnership when I started my nonprofit entity 15 years ago. Starting out in the market place, there were challenges that I needed to overcome. Like most newbies in business, whether profit or nonprofit, I was faced with establishing credibility. Because there is no history of performance, potential partners would not take the risk. Then there was the challenge of not having an established network to help support my vision. Finally, there was a lack of financial resources to implement the program successfully.

"Getting in bed" with the wrong partner (figuratively) when it comes to collaborative relationships is liken to sleeping with the enemy. There are ways to avoid this scenario and create a positive outcome:

Identify the similarities -- Do your research. Uncover the similarities of the entity you want to partner with and take note as to how they express this in their brand.
Identify the differences -- What are the stark contrasts that exist? These are what I define as the holes that you can easily fill with your products or services. This is the area where the next step can be simplified.
Create a solution to bridge the gap -- When completing your assessment, you will discover there is a gap between the differences and the similarities. Here is where your creativity should kick in. The process of brainstorming with your internal team to come up with ways to partner using this gap as the playground for new ideas is the perfect way to formulate a promising partnership proposal.

Great collaborations are built on mutual respect, trust and creativity. The mistake that a lot of entrepreneurs make is assuming that just because they are familiar or acquainted with someone that they would make an ideal partner in a collaborative effort. Not always the case. Some ventures will work and others won't, but using the three premises for moving in the right direction is necessary and will help you to avoid a mismatch, save you money, and time.

One final note on collaborative partnerships; they can be formed with any type of entity as long as there is a match in objectives. For example, sponsorship is a form of collaborative partnering. Many entrepreneurs don't fully understand how they themselves can position their brand as a sponsor and come out on top with how other larger brands will view them based on this type of positioning. While this can be the topic of discussion in another article, I will state that in this economy and our fast-track, immediate response world, we must find ways to get creative with exposing our brand and be more proactive with seeking activities that will help us meet our objectives sooner!

Kim Harris, Creator/Visionary - Stiletto Business Strategies for Women Business Owners and the StilettoMovement2014. A seasoned entrepreneur and co-founder of a nonprofit organization, Kim helps women entrepreneurs connect and share value in online trainings and live events. She is the recipient of the Small Business Administration's Women in Business Champion of the Year Award and 2013 Small Business Influencer Nominee. Kim Harris is a published author of several books and has helped women entrepreneurs procure hundreds of thousands in grants and sponsorships to further their purpose and mission. To become a speaker for the StilettoMovement, email

10 Everyday Sexisms and What Do You Do About Them

This post is updated from an earlier version that appeared on Role Reboot.

Research shows that most people don't see sexism even when it's right in front of their noses.

"Women endorse sexist beliefs, at least in part, because they do not attend to subtle, aggregate forms of sexism in their personal lives," wrote Julia C. Becker and Janet K. Swim, the authors of this study about the invisibility of sexism. "Many men not only lack attention to such incidents but also are less likely to perceive sexist incidents as being discriminatory and potentially harmful for women."

How do you think about and respond to these 10 examples?

1. Religious sexism and discrimination. Do you really believe women are incapable of religous authority? This ritualized silencing of women is practiced by practically all major religions which, with minor exceptions, bar girls and women from ministerial leadership. That means access to the divine is mediated exclusively by men and their speech. This is legally unchallenged discrimination and its effects go way beyond places and practices of worship. From the moment a girl realizes that she is not invited to participate in clerical rituals because she is a girl, she learns that her voice is powerless and not respected. So do the boys around her. But, hey, at least we pay to undermine the public good through tax credits and subsidies. What if you objected? And stopped supporting this discrimination?

2. Double standards -- lots of them. We live with an infinite number of hierarchy-building double standards based solely on gender, which restrict women's freedom and impair our ability to lead secure, rewarding, autonomous lives. 50 of these are explored in Jessica Valenti's book, He's a Stud, She's a Slut. They range from expecting girls to exhibit more self-control and politeness to grossly different treatment of men and women when they age and when they use their bodies to express themselves, to distorted ideas about boys and girls "natural" capabilities.

3.  Chivalry, otherwise know as benevolent sexism, is part of our "manners." A man who opens a door for you and doesn't mind if you do the same for him is one thing. But, one who categorically refuses your offer speaks to a much bigger problem. Benevolent sexism, the kind that is passed off as "protective" and "gentlemanly," is a core characteristic of how masculinity (and by binary contrast, femininity) are constructed in conservative cultures. Studies have shown that the more entitled people are, the more likely they are to hold sexist beliefs -- which says an awful lot about #WomenAgainstFeminism. It's defined as "the negative consequences of attitudes that idealize women as pure, moral, pedestal-worthy objects of men's adoration, protection, and provision." A lot of this starts in childhood and comes under the mantle of teaching girls and boys to be "ladies" and "gentleman" instead of just civil and kind human beings who care for one another equally. In other words, what many people think of as chivalry, gentlemanly and "real man" behavior. The negative effects on women are well documented, particularly in the workplace.

There is a well-documented correlation between benevolent sexism and women's acceptance of biased gender roles. Take the ways in which denial of the wage gap is expressed. For example, Phyllis Schlafly recently announced that closing the pay gap (she admitted it was real) would result in women being unable to find husbands. Ideas like this are deeply related to systemic support for an ideal worker who is male and a single breadwinner. That idea is a recurring theme of conservative policies about work and gender.

Our not seeing sexism where it is evident enables people with power to speculate out loud that "money is more important for men" and not lose their jobs for incompetence. I want you to imagine a political today saying money is more important for Jewish people. Or Black people. Or tall people. The pay gap amounts to $431,000 over a lifetime. Men make less than women in only seven of 534 job types, so, of course, Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander recently demanded to know what gender gap legislation would do to help them. Benevolent sexists are definitively hostile to women's workplace success. If we don't challenge this very quiet form of sexism then we make sure it pays, but only a very small portion of the population. How much is chivalry worth to you? Because you can, after all, open doors on your own. Giving yourself a raise however, is impossible.

4. The high costs of "staying safe." Every day women absorb, and are expected to pay, the costs of the safety gap. This gap costs us time and money and limits our movement. It can limit our employment opportunities, because some jobs can become very dangerous in an instant if you are a woman. Just ask reporters, truck drivers, migrant workers, activists.

Ask yourselves, men, do you feel safe on your neighborhood streets? Do you choose where and when you shop or commute carefully? Do you have parking strategies, like not parking near vans? Do you use your keys as a weapon or take other similar measures? Do you avoid paying for a gym because you can exercise outside with no problems? We teach our children that these things are "normal" and to be expected. Talk about the costs to you with the people around you.

5.  Sexism in media is entertaining. "Family-friendly" media marginalizes and objectifies girls and women, creates damaging ideals of masculinity for boys, and sustains mythologies that support a violent, male-dominated status quo. Not only do we live with this media, but most people, genuinely otherwise concerned with their children's well-being and future livelihoods, don't actively challenge entertainment companies or related media to do better. When you see a movie and there are 20 men for every one woman (usually just one or two) on screen, do you say something? Do you think about the fact that that's 20 times the number of onscreen jobs for men than for women? Or what that imbalance means on and off screen?

6. Women pay more for "our" products just because we are women and considered not "standard."  A Jezebel article put it like this a few years ago: "Being born a woman is a major financial mistake." Marie Claire published a similar list. Until recently gender pricing for insurance, which resulted in women paying up to 31% more for apples-to-apples coverage, was perfectly legal. Think I'm kidding? Here's a 10 pac of Bic Cristal ball point pens for $5.89. Here's the $10.14, six-pack version "for her." Stop buying this sh*t.

7. Our language is profoundly biased, related to our social structure and affects the way we think. We pervasively use male generics and that has negative effects. I do it all the time -- I can't seem to break the "guys" habit. We still use male words, usually to denote positive categories, like "mankind," but female terms for negative ones, "hos," and "sluts." We don't, for example, sit kids down and talk to them about the social harms of "b*tch,"even when used affectionately. Women are routinely referred to as "girls" (childlike and dependent) and men "men." This is part of a larger problem with the infantilization of adult women. We're more likely to be referred to as animals, and with a purpose. It goes on and on. But, words are important -- if only because they show the dynamic interplay between ideas. This may sound trivial until you consider that Japan has gendered terms for all three pronouns, whereas the Nordic countries are trying to introduce gender-neutral ones. Why does this matter? Well, Japan is the least gender equitable place when it comes to men and women's labor and the Nordic countries the most. I'm not suggesting causality, just significant cultural correlations that we are not immune to.

8. We engage in prejudice against men that inhibits equality. I've seen women take babies away from their fathers in parks in order to change their diapers because "men aren't good" at that sort of thing. Or maybe you've listened to men call themselves their children's "babysitters," or sat through television ads that portray men as incompetent idiots, slobs, sexist dolts or children when it comes to taking care of domestic life. More dangerous, however, is the repetition of rape and abuse myths that endanger boys and men by perpetuating discriminatory ideas about who gets raped -- drunk girls who ask for it or make the mistake of stumbling into dark alleys.

9. We pretend street harassment, the public regulation women and LGTB people either doesn't happen or doesn't matter. I'd warrant that very few people talk to their daughters or non-gender conforming sons about street harassment before it happens. The effects of this harassment and really can't be underestimated.

10. We let our schools teach sexist lessons and perpetuate gender hierarchical systems of organization. First, our education system erases the contributions of women in history and fails to provide an accurate portrayal of the past or sufficient role models. Girls go into our schools with assuredness and ambition, but they don't leave that way.

Second, schools are filled with social norms that, if left unexplored, undermine diversity and equality, for example, dress codes enforcement.

Third, many remain structurally based on complementary models for men and women, from boards, which tend to be run by more men (because, you know, that's where the hard job of money is done) to everyday volunteering and PTA involvement (mainly, still, women). School administration and coaching continue to be male dominated in an industry, education, that is made up mostly of women. So, children are immersed in educational environments that continue to sideline women's historical labor, that sexualize girls with outdated rules about appearance and morality, that provide gender hierarchal examples of social structures and, for good measure, where classroom dynamics have been shown to fail at fairness in ways that hurt both boys and girls.

By the time boys and girls leave high school and enter college, boys are twice as likely to say they are prepared to run for office. I know hardworking individual teachers trying their hardest to offset these effects, but as institutions and cultures, many of our schools remain profoundly patriarchal. What if you challenged your school to make paying attention to core gender issues a priority instead of dancing around symptoms like homophobic and mean girl bullying, math problems, boy crises and more?


This is a short list. Setting aside the real physical harms that people can and do encounter, living with everyday sexism is like fighting a low-grade infection for your whole life. When women take note of sexism during their daily lives -- for example, talking openly about street harassment or workplace bias -- and name it for what it is, they stop accepting it as "normal." For female politicians dealing with biased commentary and political opponents all too comfortable in the boys' club of the public sphere, openly confronting sexism works. When men start to notice, when they think about the differences, they can empathize. Its the first step to understanding, as Jamie Utt put it, that "as it currently exists, masculinity is fundamentally an expression of patriarchal oppression." But, before this can happen, women have to tell their stories and register their legitimate objections and people have to listen and understand why its important. Prevailing cultural attitudes continue to minimize gendered harms.

However, women are clearly in a double bind because calling out sexism can result in real penalties. A recent study very depressingly showed what we all know: Women who advocate for equality, in the workplace, for example are actively penalized for doing so.

The sad fact is that while it is polite to express sexist ideas, confronting them is considered the height of rudeness and humorlessness and this social politeness prohibition is a significant impediment to positive, everyday change. When a man at a neighborhood party comments openly and rudely on my breasts or when another in a meeting interrupts me incessantly, it is me, not them, who is considered hostile, "strident," and unpleasant for saying, "My face is up here," or "Would you please stop interrupting me?"

The fact is, we are engaged in a tidal process of awareness-raising that requires everyone to look at the role that sexism plays in their lives. Are you acknowledging it when it happens, and what do you do about it if you do?

Motherlode Blog: The Kids Who Don’t Beat Autism

Applied behavioral analysis therapy holds the possibility of “beating” autism. Some families will achieve an optimal outcome; they say, some children will become indistinguishable. Our son did not, but there’s a lot besides autism that distinguishes him.

Please Stop Hating Your Body

We live in a culture that hates the body. Don't believe me? Look around. We set unsustainable standards of physical beauty and enlist models to represent them. We then slather these models in oils and makeup, place them under "flattering" lights, and Photoshop them into oblivion.

We take these deceptive images and publish them to the world, insinuating that these lies are not only desirable, but also "the norm." Why don't you look like this? Why aren't you this beautiful?

Unable to attain this fictional and unrealistic level of beauty and perfection, we despise and destroy our own bodies. We do it in a number of ways. We either focus on our physical imperfections and try to starve them out, or beat them out through excessive exercise.

If that doesn't work, then we try to numb our feelings of inadequacy through addictions that include sex, drugs, alcohol, perfectionism, gambling, gaming, overeating, working, cleaning, shopping, and sleeping.

Anyway you look at it, we are a culture that is very uncomfortable in its own skin. We value the judgement and scrutiny of others more than we value the marvelous creation that is our own body.

I recently read Learning From Leonardo, a remarkable book that takes an in-depth look at the sketches and notes of celebrated painter Leonardo da Vinci. While reading the book, I was deeply impressed by Leonardo's fascination with the human body. Skimming through his sketches, one can tell that Leonardo had a deep love and reverence for life. Indeed, Leonardo himself once said: "Let not your rage or malice destroy a life -- for indeed, he who does not value it, does not himself deserve it."

Is the malice of our culture toward our bodies destroying our enjoyment of life? Does our rage and contempt for our own image destroy our happiness?

I've seen people waste their time and energy -- the very essence of their lives -- obsessed with body image and diet, or with weight-training and exercising, or with cankles and thigh gaps.

Your body wasn't meant to be treated like an object for others to scrutinize -- it was meant to be treasured as the most incredible and most advanced instrument that you have to receive the world. Life is so much more than what we see with our eyes, but we spend so much time focused on ourselves that we might as well be asleep. John Patrick Shanley wrote that, "Only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement."

Do you remember when we were kids? (You know, before school and all of that nonsense.) We loved life. LOVED it! Every moment of life was an absolutely astounding adventure. Swimming? Amazing. Mixing colors? Amazing. Jumping into a pile of leaves? Amazing. Petting a dog? Amazing! Touching a bug? AMAZING!

At that age, kids don't care about what others think about them, and why should they? Nature is so amazing! And if the nature is so amazing -- and their bodies come from nature -- then what does that say about them? In fact, most children chase life with such zeal and energy that they never need worry about diet and exercise.

I think there is a direct correlation between our love of life and our love of self. I believe that the more we respect, value, and love life all around us, the more we will respect, value, and love ourselves (and our bodies). And the more we value ourselves and the world around us, the more we will be able to achieve.

Leonardo da Vinci is a phenomenal example of this. The man loved life! His never-ending fascination with life was both childlike and genius. As a direct result of his love for life, the things he was able to accomplish with his own life are breathtaking. He was a painter, a sculptor, an inventor, an architect, a cartographer, a botanist, a mathematician, an engineer, a geologist and so much more!

Yet in his quest to understand life, he learned this fundamental truth:

"...and if this, [body], appears to thee marvelously constructed, remember that it is nothing as compared with the soul that dwells in that structure; for that indeed, be it what it may, is a thing divine."
. Not only is it an amazing tool for receiving the world, but it's also the host of a thing divine -- you. You are a marvelously beautiful and unique creation and you were born to achieve great things. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you will wake up to the glorious life that is all around you.

This blogpost originally appeared on

If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.

Feds Sue NYC Pawnbroker Accused Of Calling Female Employees His ‘Whipping Slaves’

By Barbara Goldberg
NEW YORK, July 31 (Reuters) - A New York pawn shop chain, whose owner was accused of calling female employees his "whipping slaves" and promising "to make babies with all" of them, was sued for harassment on Thursday by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The lawsuit against Seapod Pawnbrokers, with stores in Brooklyn and Queens, said five of the women were fired after they complained that owner Frank Morea regularly spewed racial and sexual epithets at them.
The legal action, filed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, seeks their reinstatement with back pay and penalties to be decided at trial.
Morea, 48, was also accused of disparaging African-American customers, referring to them as "black bastards" and saying the store smelled because "the monkeys are coming in," the lawsuit said.
On a regular basis from 2009 until the present, Morea is accused of calling the female employees "my Seapod bitches" and asking for graphic details about how they used tampons.
He threatened them with physical violence and termination, ordered them to "bend over so that he could ogle them from behind... rub his belly, and change the bed sheets in a bedroom attached to one of the pawn shops," the lawsuit said.
Morea, also known as "Fat Frank," a convicted fence who in 2005 admitted selling jewelry stolen by gang members, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
"We see no evidence that he excluded any of the women from harassment," said EEOC lawyer Thomas Lepak, noting about 40 women, most of them Hispanic, worked in the chain's seven shops but that so far only five of them had come forward in the lawsuit.
Lepak said when Morea was not in the store, the women enjoyed their jobs.
But there was double trouble when his father, Ralph Morea, frequented the stores and blamed the world's problems on "the biracial," the lawsuit said. It said Morea refused to stop his father from making the offensive comments.
"Mistreating, insulting and punishing people simply because of their ethnicity or gender cannot be condoned or tolerated in the 21st century," said EEOC attorney Robert Rose in a statement.
"The EEOC will take swift and firm action when vulnerable workers are targeted for abuse and harassment. We also will move quickly to enforce the law when workers are fired simply for taking steps to stop such abuse," he said.

(Editing by Dina Kyriakidou and Eric Walsh)

Fugxie Lott

Pixie Lott

Misty Copeland’s Under Armour Ad Is Like Nothing You’ve Seen

We've been anxiously awaiting Misty Copeland's first commercial for Under Armour ever since we learned that the American Ballet Theatre soloist signed with the athletic company back in January. And from the looks of this 60-second spot, it was well worth the wait.

The ad begins with Copeland balancing on pointe while a young woman's voice is heard reading a rejection letter. As the camera pans over her physique, the letter lists all of the reasons why the applicant didn't make the cut, including the sentence, "You have the wrong body for ballet."

But Copeland spends the second half of the spot disproving that sentiment, powerfully and gracefully dancing her way across a stage.

The video is significant for a number of reasons, namely for marking a major marketing shift for a brand whose image has been traditionally masculine. The ad was released in conjunction with the brand's new website, I Will What I Want, which "celebrates the will to find inner strength and to follow no one."

Check out the inspiring video above.

Monica Lewinsky Didn’t Like That ‘Orange Is The New Black’ Joke

Remember that time "Orange is the New Black" made a crass joke about Monica Lewinsky? It's okay if not -- the gag was featured during the 11th episode of the show's first season -- but Lewinsky just got around to the show recently, and was none too pleased to find her name used as a punchline.

"I did what I usually do in these situations where the culture throws me a shard of my former self," Lewinsky wrote in a piece published by "After the cringing embarrassment, the whiff of shame, and the sense that I am no longer an agent running my own life, I shuddered, I got up off the sofa, and I turned it off."

The joke in question was uttered by Nicky (Natasha Lyonne), who told Daya (Dascha Polanco) that to entrap Pornstache (Pablo Schreiber), she would need to "Lewinsky that shit" and "get some splooge on your uniform."

Lewinsky doesn't reveal whether she picked up "Orange Is The New Black" again, but there's a whole lot more about public narratives and personal rebuttals over at Vanity Fair. She's a blogger there now.

T Magazine: Reed Krakoff’s East Hampton Essentials

The fashion designer has a home there, and will open a three-day summer pop-up shop at Glenn Horowitz Bookseller on August 7.

Fug/Fab the Cover Face-Off: Katie Holmes on Glamour vs Zoe Saldana on Marie Claire

Zoe Saldana on Marie Claire, August 2014

I Was Jealous of My Friend. Then She Got Cancer.

I heard some good advice recently: If you are going to be jealous of someone, then you must be jealous of everything about them. This means you can't just covet Angelina Jolie's lips, you also have to live with her reputation as a home wrecker and deal with Brad's phobia of foot selfies. And you can't just want Michelle Obama's arms, you must also be trailed by the Secret Service and be married to someone who travels a lot.

But I was never that aspirational in my envy. I was just jealous of a friend at work.

We started working together about seven years ago. She was hired in my department shortly after I was. And I'll get right to the point: She was gorgeous. Younger than me, with silky brown hair, twinkling blue eyes and a brilliant smile, her laugh would burst out from behind the cubical wall whenever someone offered her the smallest irony. She was a regular at a kick-boxing gym and a former competitive swimmer, so she sported all the muscle definition and the fitness needed to punch a heavy bag. Michelle Obama's arms had nothing on hers, and neither did Angelina's loveliness.

I didn't meet her right away, but instead collected details about her life through overheard conversations. She was married and had two kids. This did nothing to lessen my prejudice, because I really wanted children and was struggling to get pregnant. She seemed to have it all.

Then, one day, someone asked "Have you met Bridgette?"

"No. It's nice to meet you," I said, holding out my hand. Her grip was firm and her smile was inviting. This is kind of nice, I thought.

"I love listening to you talk to people on the phone," she said to me. "You're so good at talking to people. And you're great at delivering bad news in a nice way."

I was stunned. I assumed that she didn't know who I was, but obviously she did.

"Wow, that might be the best compliment I've had," I said.

We beamed at each other and then she went back to her desk.

Shortly after that, I lost track of her. I was moved to another department, and then got pregnant and had a baby. She got divorced.

When I came back after maternity leave, I was busy with a newborn, and she was busy nurturing a new romance with a man who was named after a lesser-known super hero and who laughed just like my brother.

I would pass her in the hall where we would say hello, compare notes on our workload and size up our mutual ambition to be doing more work that inspired us. Every so often, we would wind up in a big group together at happy hour where she savagely defended her favorite football teams and I admired her sports lexicon.


In the office, I saw her wedding pictures on her new husband's desk and again felt a twinge of envy about how her life seemed to keep righting itself, perfectly. Then, she got pregnant and had a big pot roast of a baby named Beckham, who practically bubbled out of every picture on her desk. I stopped by to offer my congratulations.

"I can't believe you have four boys," I said. Her new life had brought two new sons -- one through childbirth and another through remarriage.

"I know. It's crazy," she said. "But they all get along really well, so it's not as insane as it seems."

I told her I was pregnant with my second child. And then we talked about trivial stuff, like how summer birthdays for kids are harder to plan and how lame we were for no longer being able to stay up late.

Then, she got cancer.

Her hair fell out and her skin became ashen and plastic-looking. Her throat raged with pain from the chemo. She cried endlessly from grief and the emotional roller coaster of treatments and drugs. And on top of all of that she felt guilty for robbing her new husband of the fun life they were supposed to be having in their 30s. I was shocked at the intensity of her suffering.

At work, we rallied by raising money, buying groceries and hiring someone to clean her house. Most Tuesdays before work, I would send her a text to see what I could pick up at the grocery store for her family. Once she wanted organic cucumbers, so I hunted through the vegetable aisles of the unfamiliar store hoping for the best. When I finally found some, they were small, over-sized pickles.

These are all wrong, I thought. They are too expensive. I should go to another store to get the right cucumbers, but I don't have time. And then I started crying standing there right next to the Braeburn apples. She was the one who didn't have time. Her youngest son was barely a 1-year-old and her oldest was not out of elementary school. She was too young to be this sick, and the perfect cucumber that was not going to make any of this better. I cursed the cartoon cucumber wearing pants and a goofy smile on the packaging and put it in my basket.

That fall, her cancer went into remission just long enough for her to grow a sweet, blond pixy hairstyle, cheer for her favorite football teams and hug her kids on Christmas morning. Then, her cancer came back more vicious than ever, attacking her bones and not just her breasts. It tore back through her life taking her energy and her last defenses, like her eyelashes.

"I can't tell you how many times I have ended up with Kleenex in my eye because I had no eyelashes to stop it from actually going in my eye," she wrote in one of her last journal entries.

She died on July 25, 2013.

It seems stupid to say that I'm not jealous of her now. I don't want her Michelle Obama arms the way that I'm sure her toddler wants to feel them around him today. I don't want her blue eyes the way her husband must want them before they closed each night. I don't want her body, and not just because it's gone. It was never mine to covet in the first place, just like her life. My body and my life are my own to appreciate now more than I ever did before, simply because they are still here for me to use and not to objectify. To love and not to hate. To enjoy but also to remember that they are not mine forever.


This post is written in loving memory of Bridgette Duda Storms, who was 38 when she died last year of breast cancer. She was a mother, a wife, an athlete and a fierce and loyal friend to many.

We Burn Brighter Together

"Good friends are like stars. You don't always see them, but you know they are always there." -- Eleanor Roosevelt

I just returned from our annual one week stay on Martha's Vineyard. Since 1997, my family has vacationed together there. Early on, my sister discovered that painter Margot Datzlived on the island. She's illustrated most of Carly Simon's children's picture books. I was crazy about her work. I made up my mind to track her down and introduce myself, although it took me a couple of years to work up the courage to call her. My resistance came from having placed her on a "one who has arrived" pedestal. After finally meeting Margot, her warmth and candor assured me she was not above me. We stood eye to eye. I now call her a friend and a more generous one you'll never find.


Margot Datz on one of my Vineyard visits

This year when I reconnected with Margot she was frantically finishing paintings for her show in August. True to her nature, she dropped her paintbrushes to bring me to tea at her friend and author/illustrator Susan Branchs home. After reading Susan's memoir, A Fine Romance, I was dying to meet the woman behind that gorgeous book. Margot was delighted to make that happen.

When we pulled up to Susan's house, a weird déjà vu came over me. In Susan's blogs and books, she shares musings and observations of her daily life. They are illustrated to perfection with her watercolors and photographs. As she introduced me to her husband, Joe, I had to restrain myself from saying, "We've already met," because we had... in her writings. From reading her posts, I recognized every charming inch of her house, even her cats. Susan's life, like her heart, is an open book.

Susan's cat Jack

The three of us sat around her kitchen table and sipped Susan's own private blend of delectable tea. We talked about our lives as artists and other things. All three of us agreed to liking intimate gatherings over parties. No chitchat for us. We are of the soul-connection variety. When I confessed that I had no idea I could write before I began blogging, they tittered in unison, "No one does!" Really? So that means that I'm not alone but share a sort of universal creative process. Hmmm. Knowing that comforted me. I am not an oddball. I am an artist.


Susan Branch in her studio

"He who lights his candle from mine, receives light without darkening me." -- Thomas Jefferson

In my youth, I felt quite competitive toward professional creatives who, as I saw it, were living my dream. I was beneath them always grasping for what was out of my reach. I viewed the world as having only so many openings to be filled by people in the arts. If others arrived, that meant there was less of a chance that I could. The only way to find success was to somehow maneuver around them and snatch their light.

Thank goodness for the beneficent women who've shown up and taught me different. They've encouraged me and believed in me. Unthreatened, they've made it their business to help figure out a way for me to market my gifts to the world. Forging a friendship with Margot left me with the awareness that no one makes it alone. Bringing your heart's desire to fruition is never a solitary act. It hadn't occurred to me someone would actually allow me to light my candle from there's. Wouldn't I be stealing their flame? No, the truth of the matter is together we burn brighter.

Margot's book, "A Survival Guide for Landlocked Mermaids" with it's sage observations is the perfect gift for any of your sister-friends.

Susan's "A Fine Romance" is a work of art, part love story, part travel guide. Not to be missed by anyone who yearns to tour England.

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Text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved.

The Little Black Dress

I sit in a fish bowl. In my office. I work at a church, and I sit in a fish bowl of an office. My fish bowl of an office is the main office -- you know, the kind of office that has all the answers, like where to get this form for a baptism or contact that person from the food pantry or get a Band-Aid for the preschooler's skinned knee.

The whole front wall of this office is made of windows. Sometimes, I feel like a fish with these windows -- windows that look out, windows that look in. Most of the time, when I look out, I see empty hallways. Last week, during vacation Bible school, I saw kids running, tripping, dancing, laughing.

But today, when I look out, I see black. Black pants, black cardigans, black mascara smeared under the eyes of a teenage girl wearing a black lace dress. It's a cute dress, one of those little black dresses you could wear anywhere, really. I wonder when she picked out this dress. I wonder if she picked it out to wear to something exciting, something fun, like a first date or a Sadie Hawkins dance (do they do those anymore?) or a graduation party.

I wonder if she knew, when she picked out this dress, that this would be what she would wear to her mother's funeral.

Normally, when we have funerals, I don't let myself really think about the fact that a person has died -- a person with a family and memories and a life that isn't a lived life anymore, but a soul separated from a body. The hallways filled with people putting themselves back together through shared memories and stories and wearing the same shade of the darkest color.

Today, I let myself think about it. The fact that a person has died too soon. Maybe it was the girl in the black lace dress or all of the people here looking at pictures. I don't know the person who died. But this funeral hits close to home for me because there are girls here, young women, probably sisters or cousins. They are crying. They are embracing. They are grieving. Grieving a mom that they lost. A mom that is pretty close in age to my mom, with daughters that look a lot like me. I put myself there. I think about being in their shoes. My eyes get wet.

I sit in the fish bowl and for a second, I strongly dislike these big windows that show everything, including me. I try not to make eye contact with the people -- so many people -- here to pay their respects. I don't want to be disrespectful, as if I'm watching the grief, so I sit down and check my email. An email from a clothing store telling me that the summer's hot new crop tops are 50% off today. I answer a phone call from a person angry their For Sale sign was stolen from the corner.

And it all seems so arbitrary. Crop tops and anger about for sale signs and phones ringing.

We all have dark shadows in our lives. Funerals, tumors, addictions, heartbreaks. Life is hard. It just is. Life is unfair. It just is. The fact that time runs out and we lose people too soon and we have grief for things and can't let go of things -- it sucks, really.

I look out into the hallway again -- into the sea of black cardigans and dresses and heels. I don't know the person that died. I don't know these people. But they do. They have pictures and stories and memories, and as I listen, I hear laughter amongst the tears. Their pain is their strength, the hallway thick with memories and a shared circumstance.

Life is painful, but feeling a shared pain? That makes it a bit more bearable. When we need relief, we can throw anchors out to each other to give some weight so we don't feel like we're floating above this reality. And maybe that's what life is about. Having people, loving, sharing in the good and the bad. It's a scary world, to go through it alone. But we don't need bloodlines to be connected.

I glance out into the hallway -- quick -- and see the group of girls, all wearing black dresses. Hugging. Holding. Leaning. Sharing.

Tomorrow begins the process of moving forward. For this whole group of people who share this loss.

But first step is a lot easier when you have someone by your side.

Dear Life That Should Have Been


You don't and never did exist.

I am not sure where you began or how you came into my life, but now that you are gone, I feel compelled to write how I really feel about you.

Why did you do it? What was your point?

Because I believed you. I believed that without you, I would somehow be a failure. I believed that staying the course would get me to where I was "supposed to be" instead of where I am meant to be; which you never even let me know was possible.

I don't know how you did it, but you convinced me that you were the finish line.

Like a best friend and a seductive lover, you told me what you thought I wanted to hear rather than the truth about real life and love. You taught me to be afraid of the uncertainty in life.

Every time I felt fear and doubt, you would grow and flourish; tightening your grip on me with every insecurity I felt.

I had moments of liberation when I lost myself to the joy of reckless abandon, but was met each and every time with your punitive judgment.

Your first effort was to create urgency for me to partner and marry. You knew that I wasn't ready, that I hadn't done the work of growing, evolving and expanding. You couldn't possibly have known what I wanted and needed in a relationship and marriage because I hadn't yet learned what that was for myself.

You forced me to doubt my own inner voice, my voice of truth.

Because of you I ignored opportunity and pushed myself into marriage when I was a beginner at love. You knew me well enough to know that I would follow you; that in my desire to be a "good" girl, I would want to do what I was "supposed" to do. And I did.

But I had two magnificent children, the most precious of my worldly possessions. So while my marriage wasn't "meant" to be, my beloved boys were. You are clearly not all bad.

For much of my life you tried to control my choices, and you showed no mercy in how you did so. You used guilt, shame, fear and overwhelm as your tools, tools that caused moments of deep pain, confusion and sadness.

And you talked to me endlessly. You rambled on about my body, my intellect, my competence, my limitations and my ability to trust the future. So many of my choices and decisions were made in an erroneous and disempowered partnership with you.

For so long I allowed you to be part of my circle of support, choosing to believe that you were acting in my best interest. But now I know better.

Perhaps you were trying to keep me safe and secure, and for that I feel gratitude. But in your cautious control I learned to stay within the lines when everything I have always wanted lay outside.

It took my divorce, many risks, more tears than you can imagine, and a true circle of extraordinary and loving support to begin to let you go.

In fact, even though you held me in your trance for so long, you actually proved only to be the long way around and detour to the life and love I am meant to have, and that I continue to create.

Yes, it was a long road and it was dark, unpaved and at many times quite lonely. But the darkness and loneliness only forced me to get to know and begin to deeply love myself. In the quiet, and through my tears, I was able to finally hear my beautiful, smart and powerful voice. My soul voice... the voice of my truth.

The more I talked to and listened to myself, the more empowered I became. I realized that there is no such thing as a finish line, there is only the power of now and my ability to speak my truth as I create what comes next.

While you masqueraded as such a powerful force, you actually never existed at all.

So in some ways I thank you, for without you, I wouldn't have what my heart truly desires.

Body Positivity Has No Size Limit

For years, being thin and having a flat stomach were coveted beauty ideals.

We all bought into the newest diet fad, we bought home gym equipment and we forced ourselves to eat the tiniest of portions.

Being thin was in!

Then, in more recent years, the curvier figure has become more celebrated, and women worldwide rejoiced to see more fuller-figured ladies gracing the covers of popular magazines.

Then, yet another war was waged -- that of body image and body positivity.

The body image movement is one that encourages people to love and accept themselves and others at any and every size, to be kinder to themselves and not compare their bodies to their friends or images they see in magazines. It is a movement that aims to help women (and men) to stop looking at their bodies with daggers, but instead with love and confidence. Truly, the body love movement is groundbreaking, and it has helped so many individuals.

Again, women rejoiced. Feminism was reborn and we began accepting ourselves and not giving a fig about what others thought about us. A lot of us still had our reservations, but masses of different-sized and shaped bodies took to the Internet, donning bikinis, lingerie, mini skirts and shorts. No longer were we ashamed of those stretch marks on our breasts, or the cellulite that graced our thighs. We embraced our tummies and our bottoms and we encouraged others to do the same. The body love movement moved off the Internet and before we knew it, that body diversity had spilled gloriously onto beaches and streets worldwide!

We took back our bodies and we wore what we wanted, we showed skin that hadn't seen the light of day in years (if ever), snatched up swimwear and we indulged in beautiful lingerie.

But then, almost as soon as it had begun, things started to turn sour.

Yes, curves were finally in and body diversity and love was flourishing, but somehow, it seemed to gloss over the thinner members of the body love community.

Articles bashing the so-called "thigh gap" were released, stating that having negative space between your thighs was unhealthy, without even considering the women who already had these gaps to begin with.

Using a thigh gap as inspiration to lose weight is irrational. Some women have them, some don't. Women who do have this much-gabbed-about gap were infuriated, and rightly so -- they were being labelled anorexic, and being made out to be the monster.

Some women are naturally thin and possess a very fast metabolism, some women can't put on weight, try as they might. Are these women unhealthy? Probably not, but who can say but them and their doctor, really?

Memes started to emerge of blatant 'thin-shaming.' One such example was an image of a girl from the waist down in only underwear, she had a thigh gap, over that was emblazoned 'Fact: If you have a thigh gap, your vagina is loose.'

What a load of garbage.

While this sort of thing is sadly, almost a norm for most bigger people, it's starting to become more and more prominent amongst the thinner individuals of the body positive community.
And it's mostly coming from within the body positive community.

For some reason, we've turned on each other, when we have fought so hard to get body diversity and body acceptance. Slender women are being deemed unhealthy because of their size and their thigh gap from others who claim to be completely involved in helping others to love their bodies!

Bigger people are getting attacked for being obese and unhealthy and that they "don't love their bodies" because of their size.

All of this is coming from inside our once safe and supportive community!


There is no right or wrong way to have a body, and within the body positive movement, all bodies of all sizes, shapes, colors, genders, sexes etc. etc. are all welcome. It is a safe space for people to be comfortable with the body they have, to gain encouragement and support from other like-minded people.

We need to put a stop to body shaming within the body positive community. And we need to do it now.

Now, I'm a bigger gal. It's no secret. I have no thigh gap, but I do have hips for days, and I have copped my fair share of fat and body shaming. Because I'm chubby, I'm automatically unhealthy, according to some of the most knowledgeable sources on Facebook and Tumblr. Do these people know me at all? Not in the slightest. Do they know my medical history. Negative. But because I have a big butt, I'm a hardcore eating machine who is lazy and will die of diabetes.

This sort of ignorant body shaming is damaging and perpetuates the cycle of body hatred.

For some reason, the mention of a person loving their body always brings out the worst in other people, who, strangely transform in to medical practitioners who have a penchant for being able to judge a person's health just by looking at them from behind their keyboard.

Figs to that, I say.

Loving your body is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself. Don't ever let anyone shame you for the body you have. It's yours. Your own. You call the shots with what happens with it, it's your decision.

We are all entitled to love our bodies, no matter how we look, no matter our size or shape. No one should be denied the powerful love we can bear ourselves.

Jessica Lovejoy is a Positive Body Image Advocate and writer.

Follow her page Positive Body Image Inspiration on Facebook:

You can also follow her blog:

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On Mastectomies, Pink Ribbon Culture, and Women’s Choices

The decision to surgically remove a breast either to treat or prevent cancer can never be taken lightly. And, in our breast-obsessed culture, for many women this medical decision is further complicated by societal pressures and norms.

Thankfully, the days of Halstead's radical mastectomy are behind us. No longer do women go into surgery to find out if they have breast cancer and wake up to their entire breast removed, including muscle and in extreme cases ribs. Women now have the choice of mastectomy (including a nipple-sparing technique) or lumpectomy with radiation. How and why women make these decisions is complicated and always personal.

As the watchdog of the breast cancer movement, part of our work is to ensure that women have access to unbiased, evidence-based information in order to make their own healthcare decisions. As a feminist organization, we always value and respect women's diverse experiences and choices, even when those choices may be controversial or unpopular. Some women choose the standard of care, while others may opt for either more or less than the current standard of treatment.

Last year, author Peggy Orenstein shook up conventional thinking about breast cancer with her widely-circulated piece "Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer" which rightly critiqued pink ribbon culture and the over-emphasis on mammography screening. This past weekend, Orenstein published an opinion piece in The New York Times titled (by the editors) "The Wrong Approach to Breast Cancer," which has again sparked controversy. Orenstein has been diagnosed with breast cancer twice and recently faced the question of whether to remove her healthy breast when undergoing mastectomy for the affected breast. In her opinion piece, Orenstein explores why so many women at average risk of breast cancer choose contralateral prophylactic mastectomies, despite the evidence that doing so doesn't reduce their chances of dying from breast cancer. Orenstein writes: "after a decades-long trend toward less invasive surgery, patients' interest in removing the unaffected breast through a procedure called contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (or C.P.M., as it's known in the trade) is skyrocketing, and not just among women like me who have been through treatment before."

Orenstein recognizes that there are many reasons that women may choose C.P.M., including not only the hope it will reduce their chances of death but also the desire to be physically "balanced." And there is clear evidence that in some (rare) situations where the risk of breast cancer is so extremely high, surgery to remove a healthy breast can reduce the risk of death for women. For example, Angelina Jolie recently brought national attention to the situation for women with BRCA mutations, for whom prophylactic mastectomy (in an effort to reduce the risk of developing cancer) can save lives. But the evidence is equally clear that for most women, this is not the case, including women who have already been diagnosed with early stage cancer.

Earlier this month, researchers from the University of Minnesota published the most comprehensive study to date evaluating the survival benefit of C.P.M. in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Researchers noted the remarkable increase in rates of C.P.M. and wondered if there may be "an exaggerated perceived benefit from the procedure" by patients. Breast cancer becomes fatal when it spreads throughout the body -- when it metastasizes, but removing a healthy breast does not reduce the chance that the original tumor will spread throughout the body. Even when the researchers "tweaked the numbers, nearly doubling the risk of contracting a second cancer and exaggerating the aggressiveness of a new tumor and the effectiveness of C.P.M.", there was no group of women who was even 1 percent less likely to die of breast cancer after removing the healthy breast.

The question Orenstein raises is why so many women who are at relatively low risk of dying from breast cancer choose to remove a healthy breast "just to be safe" -- despite the evidence that they are in fact no "safer" with or without C.P.M.

When we posted Orenstein's article on Breast Cancer Action's Facebook page, the responses came quickly and heatedly, and the conversation was emotionally charged. Conversations about breast cancer screening and treatment choices are always understandably charged -- we are talking about life and death, and incredibly personal medical decisions. As a feminist women's health organization, we recognize that different people make difference choices -- and we respect the fact that the "right" choice for one person wouldn't be for another. Women should never be judged, shamed, belittled, or second-guessed for their health decisions.

We also recognize that these choices are shaped and constrained by real-world options and circumstances -- and too often women diagnosed with breast cancer feel they are choosing between two terrible choices. Every woman deserves access to evidence-based information to inform our choices and decisions, even as we demand far better options.

Since Breast Cancer Action's founding, we've explored how women's choices related to breast cancer are limited, constrained, influenced and rejected. We've worked to provide balance and an alternative to the ways women are asked, expected, and pressured to have breast cancer procedures and treatments even if the evidence shows it does not save lives. We do this not to tell women what they should do, but to ensure that women are able to explore the full range of their choices as they grapple with life-changing medical decisions. Informed consent must include an understanding of both potential benefits and harms of a particular procedure or treatment.

When discussing C.P.M., in addition to the lack of survival benefit, there are the significant risks of the surgery itself to be considered. As Orenstein elaborates: "Breasts don't just screw off, like jar lids: Infections can occur, implants can break through the skin or rupture, tissue relocated from elsewhere in the body can fail. Even if all goes well, a reconstructed breast has little sensation."

Any major surgery comes with risks and complications. Not only does mastectomy itself come with the general risks of anesthesia (which are greater for people in poor health), but there's also risks such as infection, necrosis, and all-too-common seromas. If women choose reconstruction, there are additional risks and complications -- consider that 46 percent of women with silicone gel implants and 21 percent with saline implants undergo at least one re-operation within three years.

Many women, and Orenstein herself, note that there are quality-of-life related reasons why women opt for C.P.M. above and beyond hoping the surgery will help them survive breast cancer. Some women prefer to have both breasts removed because they desire symmetry, whether they choose reconstruction or not, or have back or neck pain with only one breast. As one woman on our Facebook page put it, "if not choosing reconstruction then we are stuck looking like a one-humped camel."

None of these choices happens in a vacuum. The year-round pink ribbon awareness campaigns and marketing ploys demand attention to breast cancer through relentless fear-mongering and false promises. One nasty side effect of the mainstream breast cancer awareness movement is now there are many women -- and even young girls -- who fear their breasts, viewing them as harbingers of disease, ticking time bombs. Combine this steady diet of pink ribbons on the one hand, and selling women a lifetime of self-doubt and body hatred on the other, and some women suggest this surgery is a "trade up," that fake breasts are better than real breasts.

Humans are notoriously bad at internalizing statistics and absorbing the implications of research in our individual lives. This challenge is bigger than breast cancer. It's hard in any health situation for people to incorporate statistics and studies into their decision-making. Having trouble applying statistics to your own individual situation does not necessarily cause fear and overestimation of risk -- it can and does lead to a false sense of security in some cases.

But with breast cancer, it's a bizarre truth that many women in the U.S. overestimate their risk of this disease 'thanks' to the pervasive breast cancer awareness movement. Women who are 40, for example, estimate that their breast cancer risk is more than 20 times the actual likelihood that they will develop breast cancer over the next decade. And women who have cancer in one breast overestimate their risk of cancer in the other breast by sixfold. The result of this culture of fear of breast cancer can lead women to do anything and everything to treat breast cancer, whether or not the evidence shows it impacts survival rates. In this culture of fear, "peace of mind" for women (and their doctors) becomes the key objective -- even if that peace isn't backed by sound evidence.

Cancer terrifies us to our very core -- and for good reason. One in three women will get cancer at some point in her lifetime; one in eight will get breast cancer. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death for American women, after lung cancer. Any woman facing a breast cancer diagnosis and the complex set of fears it brings needs access to evidence-based information with which to navigate the difficult treatment decisions she faces.

There is no single right answer for all women, but in order for each of us to make the choice that is best for us in our own circumstances and lives, we must balance fear with facts, and to do so, we need good information like the studies to which Orenstein is pointing. After that, we must trust the fact that every woman is doing her best in difficult circumstances and honor her decisions as her own.

T Magazine: A Panorama of After-Hours New York, From the Brooklyn Band Bear in Heaven

The art-rock ensemble’s video for “Time Between,” premiering exclusively at T, is the result of a month of filming late-night characters around Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

Recent Fugs and (Mostly) Fabs: Jess Weixler

Jess Weixler

People Are More Likely To Lie To Women During Negotiations, Study Finds

Over the last 17 years, Professor Laura Kray noticed that a striking number of female MBA students complained about being lied to during the negotiation simulations in her business school classes. When more and more women, frustrated by the deceptions routinely occurring in these role plays, began to pour into her office after the exercise to vent, Kray decided to find out if this is true on a more systematic level: Are women more likely than men to be lied to during negotiations?

The short answer is yes.

"I think there's very clearly a cultural stereotype that women are more easily misled," Kray, a Warren & Carol Spieker Professor of Leadership at Berkeley-Haas, told The Huffington Post.

Kray and her research associates, Jessica A. Kennedy and Alex B. Van Zanta, set out to prove that women are perceived as less competent than their male counterparts and will therefore be lied to more often, in their study published in the Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes journal this month. After collecting data from online surveys, the researchers established that there is a stereotype that women are more likely to be misled. This, in turn, puts them at risk for opportunistic deception, from misleading information to flat-out lies, during negotiations.

One this was established, Kray and her associates analyzed data from actual negotiation simulations in the MBA classroom. Students had the opportunity to either tell the truth, misrepresent information or tell a lie about their intentions in order to lure the person playing the "seller" into a deal during a mock real-estate negotiation. As expected, female negotiators were deceived much more often than male negotiators were, causing women to enter deals under false pretenses more often than men did.

The worst part? Kray noted that many of the lies told to women weren't just lies of omission or even attempts at misleading -- women faced a significant amount of blatant lies when men in the same situation were told the truth.

"It explains why it's not so easy to 'lean in' all of the time," Kray said. "Women are leaning in and navigating many more land mines than men are."

Glo Harris, an executive coach who works with Fortune 100 and 500 companies in Oakland, CA, told The Huffington Post that one reason for this behavior bias might be that women aren't just seen as less competent, but they're also viewed as more compassionate and forgiving, especially when it comes to lying. From her 25 years of corporate experience, she postulated that women often find out they've been lied to -- much like the female students in Kray's classes -- but they don't seem to retaliate in the same way a man would.

"Women will be more sensitive and not humiliate the person publicly for lying," Harris said. "I think the projection on women is that it's easier to lie to us because the consequences won't be so great."

Plus, when it comes to perception of competence, men are better than women at "faking it until they make it," Harris said. (And unfortunately, there are studies to back up her anecdotal observation.)

One way to counteract this bias, according to Harris, is to start by modeling ethical behavior yourself, which will hopefully deter would-be liars. She also suggests changing your mindset -- you know, getting better at that "faking it" part -- and making sure you're a respected presence at work by speaking up at meetings.

But Kray noted that, in her experience, the most important step you can take is to simply prepare before entering into any negotiation.

"We need to draw from this growing knowledge base about how we can build our sense of power and our sense of competence," Kray said. "That means practicing before you go to the bargaining table. It means having your questions laid out in front of you so you have guidelines that you can stick to in terms of scrutinizing and asking for verification. It means really signaling a willingness to push back."

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Owns Her ‘Notorious’ Nickname

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is aware she's earned the nickname "Notorious RBG" -- and she loves it.

In an interview with Katie Couric for Yahoo News, Ginsburg acknowledged the Notorious RBG tumblr -- which Ginsburg notes started after the Voting Rights Act decision -- by calling it a "wonderful thing."

"I haven't seen anything that isn't either pleasing or funny on that website," Ginsburg said, noting her children and grandchildren are getting a kick out of the site.

Ginsburg did admit she didn't quite understand the "Notorious" reference at first.

"I had to be told by my law clerks, 'what's this notorious?'" Ginsburg said. "And they explained that to me."

Watch a video of Ginsburg talking about the nickname, and answering a question from the creator of the Notorious RBG tumblr, above.

Going Gray: Why I Finally Stopped Coloring My Hair

Two years ago, I stopped coloring my hair and realized I had unintentionally done something radical. People assumed my long, gray hair was a statement against our culture's celebration of youth and our rigid conventions of beauty. Or, conversely, they assumed my hair revealed an inherent laziness on my part.

"I don't mind gray hair on a woman," a man told me once over a glass of wine, as if I had forgotten to shower or wear deodorant.

"I could never let my hair go gray," a friend said to me. "I mean, yours looks OK, but my mother would just die if I let my hair go like that."

"Good for you!" a stranger screamed across the parking lot at the public library. "Good for you! Don't you ever let anyone tell you you need to color you hair!"

And while I appreciated this man's enthusiastic endorsement of my... umm... lifestyle choice, I was not quite sure it was deserved. I got my first gray hairs when I was in my early twenties. Back then, I considered my gray hairs to be purveyors of doom, and so I began what would become years of touching up, dyeing, and highlighting away every gray strand, every indication that I might, one day, be old.

At first, I did my own coloring, and sometimes the resulting colors were shades that actually appeared naturally in other humans. Most of the time, however, I emerged from these hours-long sessions with locks of varying shades of plum and purple, hints of Ronald-McDonald orange and Big-Bird yellow. Once, when my older son was 3, he took one look at my freshly-dyed hair and burst into tears.

"Your hair is purple!" he screamed.

"Honey, it's not purple," I said.

But there was too much evidence to the contrary.

"It is! It is!" he sobbed.

By the time I was in my early thirties, I had learned to let a professional do my coloring, and as my hair grew grayer and grayer, I went to the colorist's at increasingly narrow intervals -- every other month, every six weeks, every four weeks. By the time I was 40, I was going every three weeks. The entire procedure -- color, shampoo, scalp massage, blow-dry -- took about three hours and cost half of what I earned in a week, yet two weeks after this epic coloring session, my hair once again looked like someone had run a white paintbrush over my part.

And so one day a couple of years ago, I just decided that was it. I called my long-time stylist and made an appointment for -- gasp -- just a cut.

"Wait," my stylist said when I arrived. "They only put you down for a cut. We'll need rework the schedule a bit to fit in your color."

"No," I explained. "I'm going to stop coloring."

My hairdresser was my age, heroin-addict skinny with butt-length, carrot-colored hair and a myriad of fading tattoos -- a ring around her thin wrist, a rose above her right breast, a branch on her left ankle. She stood behind me and in the reflection in the mirror, her scowl was lopsided and crinkly around the edges.

"You can't be serious," she finally said.

I was serious, I told her.

"You're going to look 10 years older," she said. "Are you prepared for that?"

I was prepared for that. I was 45 years old, and no amount of hair dye was going to make me look 20. Plus, there were plenty of other women who wore their gray hair beautifully. My mother was one of them.

Back in the seventies, my mother had a jet-black bob like Jackie Kennedy, but she stopped dying her hair some time in the eighties. Now, people constantly told her she looked years younger than she was. Her secret? She always wore vivid colors, and she never went anywhere -- the grocery store, hiking, water aerobics -- without earrings and plenty of bright lipstick -- blazing lava, plum explosion, true red.

Personally, I was a fan of drab colors -- browns, blacks, grays -- and I knew a splash of colorful lipstick was not suddenly going to transform me into my perky, upbeat mother. It just wasn't me. Still, while I was growing out my hair, the thin, gray band around my scalp got increasingly wider, as if I were wearing a giant, white headband, and finally, I decided a splash of color here and there couldn't hurt.

And so I invested in a few brightly-colored scarves, a couple of flashy tops. My daughter also convinced me to buy a long, purple wrap. The wrap became my new go-to item -- the thing I wore to every single event I attend for an entire spring and summer and part of the fall. However, every time I put it on, rather than feeling fresh-faced and lively, I was reminded of perhaps the greatest transgression I ever committed against my mother, something far worse than all my teenage shenanigans combined.

I was in my early twenties, and my mother was younger than I am now -- in her early forties -- when I gave her a book I thought she would like. My daughter was 2 at the time, and I was pregnant with my son, and I saw this as a moment of bonding -- a moment when I could say to my mother, "I, too, am a woman, and I understand the difficulty of growing older in a society that honors youth." The book was When I Grow Old, I Shall Wear Purple, which Thrift Books describes as an "enchanting collection of writings and photographs evokes the beauty, humor and courage of women living in their later years."

Later years. My mother was the same age I was when I took up mountain biking, the age when I embraced the craft beer movement and began road racing, the age when I was just beginning to be calm in my mind and comfortable in my body, the age that Esquire just praised as the time when women are most alluring. My mother opened the book -- a birthday gift -- and paused with it in her hands. Her eyes were wide and dark, her lovely, fuchsia lips twitching up and down, searching for words. A sliver of wrapping paper clung to the book's back cover.

"Oh," she said. "Oh."

There was the briefest pause, and then the silence gave way to thank you and how thoughtful, and the moment was gone.

That was over 20 years ago. Now, my mother actually is growing older, and, at 47, I suppose I am too. Today, I no longer balk at the insinuation inherent in my head full of gray hairs -- the implication that I am surely and swiftly heading where we are all heading, if we are lucky -- to old age. And whenever I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror or in a photo one of my kids snaps on a cell phone, I see a bit of my mother -- the red undertones in my skin, the certain way I hold my jaw -- and I think of that stranger in the library parking lot, and I simply think, well, yeah. Good for me. Good for me.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

‘Into The Woods’ Trailer Makes A Wish, But Not With Songs

Here's the first trailer for "Into the Woods," Rob Marshall's adaptation of the famed Stephen Sondheim musical. Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt, Chris Pine, James Corden and Johnny Depp all star in what, we wish, will be a better movie musical than "Les Miserables." (Not that anyone would know "Into the Woods" is a musical since no one sings in the trailer.) "Into the Woods" is out on Dec. 25.

Check out photos from "Into the Woods" below.

Bjorkly Played: Bjork

Björk at The Chiltern Firehouse in London.

An Open Letter To A Friend


Open letters seem to be all the rage, so I'm throwing my ass into the ring and writing one. Why not say these things to my friend (or friends) privately, face to face, over Tequila shots in a bar?

A large part of friendship is showing up', wouldn't you agree? Well, this is part of the problem, hence the open letter, although I think it's also safe to say that this letter probably won't be seen or read. I thought the letter was classier than summing up our relationship in 140 characters.

Dear Friend (s),

After 37 years, I'm changing the rules. I don't want to play my part any longer. I've outgrown it, and it no longer fits.

Why didn't I speak up earlier, you ask? Fear, ambivalence, laziness, uncertainty, and habit. Take your pick.

Having history isn't a reason to accept less from you. Over the years I have tolerated, made excuses and fought with internal justifications, when it came to our friendship. Each time that I was disappointed, or I felt that you took me and our friendship for granted, I remembered the good old days and it allowed me to move on.

If I needed you, would you be there for me? I used to think that you would. I needed to believe that you would because then why else would we be friends? Why would I be friends with someone whose presence and loyalty I doubted? The truth is I have doubts.

Our friendship requires effort, just like your romantic, work and family relationships do. If it's worth it, you put in the time because, well, you think it's worth it!

We're flawed, and we have annoying parts of our personalities, but I've always accepted those flaws. Now I think, to what end? For how long? Is what I'm getting back worth it?

Our friendship has always meant a lot to me. We've shared so much and for this, I am grateful. But what is the depth of our current relationship? Can I call it a friendship? Maybe our definition of friendship is different.

I can say with utmost confidence that I've been a great friend. Can you say the same? Do you even know what's going on in my life? Have you ever read my work? In all of the years that I've been writing, I have never heard you comment one way or another. This is the most painful.

You have been neglectful and you expect me to understand, once again, because I've been forgiving in the past. Because I forgave in the name of friendship. I don't think I have any more to give.

This has been a one-way street, and it feels like shit. It's not like this with any other friend. What makes you think that the standard, garden variety friendship rules, don't apply to you?

People change. Circumstances change. We grow, we move, we evolve. I understand. But if I can't count on your friendship than what's the point to any of it?

I have always tried to see your good, and there's a lot of it. I've defended you when others called you selfish and narcissistic because I knew that there was so much more. It's become harder to do so.

I love you but I've changed. Feeling ignored and feeling that our friendship is inauthentic has grown tiresome. I expect to be treated how I treat others and I can't accept anything less. Simple.

My expectations are not unreasonable nor high. I have people in my life; busy people who have jobs, families, responsibilities and guinea pigs, but they've accepted their role as my friend and we both show up.

It's been an evolution and now I must self care. I will always love you.
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