Friday, March 28, 2014

A letter to SELF magazine and Lucy Danziger

Dear SELF Editor-in-Chief Lucy Danziger,

You are the worst kind of bully. You're a bully getting paid to bully.

You are in a position of power. You may not realize it, but young girls look up to women like you.

Girls like my 8 year old daughter.

She is beautiful, strong, graceful in her own sort of way, creative, and kind. She loves to dance, sing, read, run, draw pictures, and write stories.

She's got long hair that's finally grown back in after she cut it all off to donate in honor of her big cousin who beat cancer (she was only 6 at the time). She has big hazel eyes and a smile that boasts too-big-for-her-mouth teeth and lots of spaces. She has 'sticky-outie-ears' and crooked toes. She's an average height and weight for her age, not too tall or too short, not too chubby or too thin.

And she struggles with her body image.

She's 8 years old.

It's women like you who have the power to tell her that she is perfect just how she is.

You can use your powers for good.

You can take your publication and tell my daughter, and so many other daughters, that it doesn't matter what they look like. That the only thing that matters is that they love themselves, and treat others kindly.

Instead, you choose to use your powers for evil.

You tell women that they are not good enough how they are. That they need to do this, that, and the other thing in order to feel better about themselves.

And then next month, you tell them that, oops, you're still not good enough, try this now.

Your latest faux-pas brought you into the spotlight. You chose to poke fun at the wrong person. And good for her for standing up to you!

She looked you, the bully, in the eye. She told you how it is, and that she doesn't care if you like her tutu or not. She is proud of who she is. She is confident.

She is beautiful.

In spite of you.

And you apologized.

But you didn't apologize because you were wrong. You apologized because you got caught.

Because Monika happened to have gone through some unspeakable pains and fought back. Because she had the strength and courage to stand up to you.

Would you have apologized had it just been an average woman? If it was just a mom, having fun, running a race, to show her daughter that she could do anything?

Probably not.

You need to realize that what you did was wrong. Not because you got caught. Not because you chose the wrong person to poke fun at.

It was wrong because of your actions. Because of your words.

And that makes you the worst kind of bully.

I hope that you choose to look at this situation and change yourself for the better.

I hope you use this in your future and model the behavior of someone worthy of the position you hold.

I hope you become someone that little girls can look up to.

In the meantime, my daughter, and all of her Girls On The Run friends, will be sporting tutus in their 5K this Spring.

Because they know who to look up to.

And it's not you.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

10 Things To Do WITH KIDS When It's Too Hot To Go Outside

We are officially having a meteorlogical heatwave here in Upstate NY!! It's rare in this part of the country, but today is Day #3 of 90*+! Since it's so hot up here, I know that it's just as hot if not hotter in other places!

Together with my kids, we've put together a list of things to do when it's just too hot to go outside and play! We do not have central air, nor do we have a pool, so these are things that we do that are super cheap or FREE!

1. Go to the public library. bring a water bottle and have each child read one book (age and reading level appropriate) before they finish their water. Write down the title & author if you're not checking the book out (especially if you're participating in a summer reading program like BookIt!). Spend as much time in the air conditioning as possible! After all, you are paying for it with your tax dollars!


2. Check if your local bowling alley has a free summer program for kids! Ours does, and kids can bowl 2 free games every single day all summer long. We do have to pay the shoe rental fees, but those are only $3 per child. Turn it into a math game! After each game, have the kids figure out what their score would have been if they had gotten one more strike, two more strikes, or however many strikes they are old (my kids are 6 and 7, so I have them figure out their score if their top 6 & 7 scores had been strikes).

COST: $6

3. Go see a dollar movie! These are all movies that have been in the theatres previously, but the thrill of seeing them on the big screen is still there for kids!!! We bring a water bottle and stick some granola bars in my pocketbook for the kids so we can avoid the concession stands. Click on this link to find a participating theatre near you: York

COST: $2

4. Make a rainbow of Jell-O! Jell-O is one of the only desserts we can think of that doesn't involve turning the oven on, so we make lots of it over the summer! Pick up small boxes of Jell-O (about 50 cents each) in strawberry/cherry, orange, lemon, lime, berry blue, and grape. To make individual servings, get crystal clear plastic cups that will hold between 1/2 cup and 1 cup of liquid. Starting with grape, make your Jell-O, spoon about 1/2" into each cup, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Then do the same for each remaining color. We top ours with 'clouds' (Cool Whip) before we eat them! In between layers, read a chapter of a book aloud! Charlotte's Web, Alice in Wonderland, The Secret Garden, James and the Giant Peach, and Indian in the Cupboard are great choices!

COST: $4-$5

5. Have a board game or card game tournament. You can do this at home, at the library, or even at a coffee shop or fast-food restaurant (some may require you to make a purchase if you're going to sit there for a long time, but a small drink will usually suffice!). Each child gets to pick a board game or card game. Play 2 rounds of each game if you do not want to keep 'score' or play for best of 3 rounds if you do want to keep score. Depending on the games chosen, this can keep everyone occupied for a few hours!

COST: FREE (or $1-$2 if required to make a purchase)

6. Go Christmas shopping! Christmas in July? Why not? Have your children pick a person on their Christmas list, and then pack up and head to the mall. When you get there, sit down on a bench or in the food court and brainstorm ideas for that person. Make sure the kids know what the budget is for that person before you start shopping. As you browse stores, the kids can write down what things they think the person would like, and how much they cost. After you've made it through the whole mall, sit down again and decide what to get!! Go back and make your purchase. When you get home, you can either wrap the gift right away, or stash it somewhere you'll remember it in December!

COST: Varies

7. Movie marathon day! Close all the shades/blinds in a room with a TV to block out the sun and the heat. Let the kids hang around in their undies if they want, and have them each pick a movie (or two!). Pull out the sleeping bags, fill a few ziploc baggies with ice, and stick them down inside the sleeping bags to keep cool! Instead of popcorn, have ice cream or sherbet.


8. Visit a local museum or planetarium. These are often higher-cost options, but will keep you in the air conditioning for the entire day. If yours permits it, pack a lunch so you can steer clear of the cafeteria, and bring refillable water bottles to fill up in the water fountains instead of purchasing drinks.

COST: Varies

9. Have a car and bike wash! Okay, so this one does put you outside, but it gives you and the kids plenty of water to play in and cool off! Put on bathing suits or old clothes, pull out the hose, grab a few buckets and sponges and some dish soap, and clean the car and the kids' bikes! Let the kids go hog-wild and don't worry if they start spraying each other (or you!) with the hose! Make sure the windows of the car are closed before you start! On a hot, hot day, everything will dry off pretty quickly, and you can always run your car through a 'real' carwash at a later date if the streaks and soap bubble outlines bother you. Or you can just enjoy the hard work and FUN!


10. Last but not least, seek out some water! Look for a lake, ocean, river, creek, sprinkler, splash park, friend with a pool, public pool, water park, or even the local Y, and hang out there for the day. Make sure you pack the sunscreen and slather everyone up well before you even leave the house. Bring plenty of water and snacks, and if you're going to a friend's house, bring a treat for everyone! Not all of these options will be free, but they will certainly be worth it!

COST: Varies

So there you go! I hope we've helped you think outside the box and find ways to beat the heat this summer!

For us, we're off to the library today!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Is Target hiring?

So here's the thing about custom-made boutique clothing- it's 'expensive'.

Yup. I've said it. Go ahead. Start the rioting now.

Is it worth the price? Should you really pay 3 or 4 or even 5 times as much for an outfit as you would at Walmart or Target?

To help out a little, let me break it down for you.

Walmart and Target mass-produce their items. They are made in a factory somewhere in China or Vietnam or Singapore. Probably by an underage child who is getting paid half of minimum wage. It costs these retailers approximately 37 cents (27 cents in materials costs, and 10 cents in labor costs) to produce a single shirt, and the average child's shirt sells for about $8.

For argument's sake, let's say that the average Target store sells about 50 of one shirt design. There are over 4,700 Target stores currently operating in the US. That means that there are about 235,000 (give or take a few thousand) of that identical shirt sold in the US. Which means there 235,000 little boys or girls walking around wearing that shirt.

It cost Target $86,950 to produce those shirts, and they sold for $1,880,000. Subtract out the production costs, and Target makes almost 1.8 MILLION dollars JUST ON THAT SINGLE CHILD'S SHIRT!!! I'll let your mind wander about how many different shirt designs are offered in a single store, let alone the pants, skirts, dresses....

So, you could go to Walmart or Target and purchase a cute shirt and a cute skirt for about $25 total. We can subtract about $2 across the board for operating costs and employee pay, and it costs that store about $1 total to make it. That's a 730% markup you're paying. And you're supporting the economy of China or Vietnam or Singapore.

Go you.

Now let's think about a custom-made boutique-style shirt & skirt set.

First of all, they're made right here in the US. This particular boutique is located in Webster, NY.
I'm going to use an outfit I finished recently as an example for number purposes only.

The materials for that outfit cost me $26. Packaging materials and shipping costs will run me another $9. My total out-of-pocket costs are at $35 (and that does not include the gas to get to the stores to purchase the materials and to get to the post office to mail the final package).

I am selling the outfit for $85. No tax. No shipping. Just plain old $85.

Subtract my costs of $35, and that brings it down to $50.  So a $50 profit is a markup of 113%.

But wait!

It took me just over 7 hours to complete that outfit. No one else. I had no help (other than the occassional child running through the room dragging blankie on the floor and sweeping pieces away with him). Take that $50 'profit', divide it by those 7 hours, and I made about $7.14/hour.

What's minimum wage in NY?

Oh yeah, $7.25.

So I'm making LESS than minimum wage.

But when they wear the outfit I created, or any other custom-made outfit, your child will be the ONLY one wearing it. You won't send them in for school pictures, only to get the class photo back and see 2 other girls wearing the same dress. You won't wander down the street to the playground and see another child in the same outfit. It's yours, and yours alone.

Isn't that worth paying a work-at-home mom less than minimum wage?

I hope so.  Otherwise, we'll have to go get a job at Target.