Cissy Brady-Rogers
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Archive for June, 2014

As long as any boy or girl’s development of a solid sense of identity is limited by gender stereotypes, then we’ve still got a long way to go as a culture.

Last week was the 42nd anniversary of the passing of Title IX – the 1972 law that prevents sexual discrimination in higher education. In 1972 only 300,00 girls were involved in high school sports. Today that number is over 3 million.

In 1972 I was 10 years old and didn’t yet know how unjust the world was for females. I grew up with an attorney mother, a pretty forward thinking father, and a world where women were doctors and lawyers.  My great aunt Eileen Chambers, whom my mom and I visited each week at her nursing care residence, had been a doctor in her younger years. In addition, several of my mom’s best female friends were attorneys and my pediatrician was also a woman. In my idealized world a woman could be anything but a priest!

As a little girl I didn’t know that it wasn’t culturally acceptable for girls to play sports or dress in “boys” clothes. Unaware of gender stereotypes, I played “boy games” with my brothers and dressed how I wanted unless we were going to church or somewhere special. With two older brothers whom I adored and wanted to emulate, I loved being included in their rough and tumble games and wearing their hand-me-downs!

Then came school years when the gender rules became more clear
. But, I still played kickball with the boys while most of my female classmates played other games…although for the life of me I couldn’t tell you what. I was too busy enjoying myself to even notice what they were doing.

Thankfully, due to Title IX, throughout my school years I had equal access to after-school sports and organized team play. I wasn’t the greatest athlete, but I loved to play basketball, kickball and softball. In 4th grade I could kick the ball farther than most of my male classmates! Later on in junior high and high school I even played volleyball–the least favorite of my team sports. But I played because I loved the activity and the camaraderie of working with others and friendly competition.

The  “Always #LikeAGirl” video reminds me to be grateful I grew up in a gender neutral, supportive home where I was allowed to be me. None of my brothers or boy friends ever accused me of running, throwing or playing like girl. I don’t remember when I first heard that derogatory comment, but I’m pretty sure it was hurled at a boy by another boy on the elementary school playground.

Our task as supportive adults is to empower kids to be themselves, whatever that looks like. Rigid gender stereotypes don’t just harm girls, boys are equally victimized by cultural message about “being a man.”

Last month I posted a blog inspired by India Arie’s song “Just Do You.” Her’s is an important message in a world where binary definitions of gender limit authenticity and emotionally damage kids just trying to figure out who they are in a complex world.

Last month I met filmmaker James Colquhoun at a screening of his film Hungry for Change. This month I’m excited to tell you about his recently launched FoodMatters.tv – a website devoted to bringing the best information about food and health together in one place. They are on a mission to educate and inspire us to remember the wisdom of Hippocrates: food is medicine. In their vernacular: You are what you eat!

James and his wife Laurentine share my vision of individual responsibility for good health. “We believe that your body is worthy of good care and that no one is more suitably qualified to care for it than yourself.”  Amen!

Inspired by the healing of his dad’s chronic disease through eliminating a boatload of medications and introducing a plant-based diet, James and Laurentine are the real thing. I’m delighted to benefit from and support their efforts to help each of us become our own best advocates for good health.