Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween to those who celebrate it on this October 31st! Pumpkins, apples, witches... a lot of associations come to mind when Halloween rolls around.

For me, the most powerful association with Halloween has always been expressing creativity, from costumes to activities at Halloween parties. What will I dress up as this year? I would wonder each summer. (Yes, each summer. My mom would sew my costume in the summer, when time was plentiful.) What a joy to meander in my thoughts as I stared at the pattern catalogs in the sewing store! I could be a "girl from olden times," like Laura Ingalls Wilder! Out came the blue calico fabric. Then as I came to make my own costumes with inexpensive sweatshirts and fabric paints or big sheets of poster board and duct tape, my plans would take more creative turns. I would be the universe! Out came the glow-in-the-dark paints. For me, Halloween was always about getting pumped up with my creative juices flowing, even if all I was working with one year were some pieces of fabric and lace that used to be part of my dress-up box. That, the year I had put off thinking about my costume until the trick-or-treating day rolled around, was actually the most thrilling as I wrapped and pinned and rearranged and reformed my ideas until I had the costume together over my street clothes. I don't even remember what I called myself!

Halloween is about creative expression, and it's about a lot of other things, too. What does it mean for you? Showing your creativity? Dressing up? Trick-or-treating? Staying home? Does it mean collecting for UNICEF? Working on a CD review for New Moon (see the post below)? I want to know! And I want to know how Halloween went after the fact. What's it like to be a girl on Halloween?

Whatever your choice on Halloween, I hope one thing you'll be through and through is proud to be a girl! Just think, witches are so commonly associated with Halloween, and they have got a powerful history. There's a lot of stuff out there about witches, but to me, the most compelling is that these mislabeled women were superb healers in touch with the forces of nature and the most medicinal properties of plants.

I wish you all a safe, happy day!

Until November, Bissy (Elizabeth!)


Have you ever wanted to be a music critic? Here is your chance!

New Moon is looking for a girl writer to compose a CD review of an album that you think sheds women in a positive light for our March/April music issue, “Listen to This!”
Here are some guidelines and questions to keep in mind when creating your review:

- Choose an album by a female musician that you believe has a strong impact on women and how they are perceived.
- Let us know what you like and don’t like about the CD and why.
- Are there specific songs or lyrics that give you inspiration?
- What kinds of instruments were used? What kinds of dynamics were explored?
- Why is this CD so unique and special in your eyes?

- Where did you hear about this artist/CD?
- Make sure to keep the critique to 600 words.
-Deadline EXTENDED to November 7th, 2007!!!

Email your article to Hannah at

We hope to hear from you!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Girls Editorial Board Featured In Ms. Magazine

In honor of Ms. Magazine's 35th anniversary, the Girls Editorial Board was asked to share their voices about the future of feminism.

The GEB is featured in the Fall 2007 issue along with Gloria Steinem, Whoopi Goldberg, Alice Walker, Billie Jean King and many more. We are honored and proud that the girls of New Moon are standing side-by-side with these great voices.

Learn more about the Ms. 35th anniversary issue and add your voice to the Voices that Carry section of their website!

And of course girls, we want to hear your voice, too! Where do you see the future of feminism going in 35 years? Click on the image to the left to read what the GEB had to say!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Power Shift, Part One

From November 2 to November 5, young from all over the country will gather in Washington, D.C. for Power Shift, "the first national youth summit to solve the climate crisis." The conference will be held at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland. Included in the agenda are workshops, panels, performances, a green job fair, and a lobby and rally day on Capitol Hill. At the summit, youth will meet in groups based on geography, building networks and learning how to carry home the lessons learned and begin action. On November 3, the conference will coordinate with a national Step It Up day, an opportunity for individuals across the country to organize actions that suit their communities, like clean-ups. You can sign up for Step It Up online and send in pictures after the event to be compiled and sent to Congress. Registration for Power Shift can be found on the website. Registration ends on October 31. As of this writing, 4,701 youth leaders are registered. It will be an opportunity for youth to share their vision of a future--and a present--of vitality, progress, and innovation. Joining voices, youth will unify and share their message of a healthy future that only a clean planet can provide.

New Moon recently caught up with twenty-year-old Shadia Wood, one of Power Shift's spokespeople and organizers. She began her activism early, and it has continued as a passion throughout her life so far. Her position just shifted from youngest Campus Climate Challenge Coordinator for the Energy Action Coalition (the organizers of Power Shift) to working for Power Shift directly on travel scholarships for youth of color and low-income youth. Here are some highlights from our interview. Stay tuned for a later post to read more of the interview and learn more about Shadia (like the first press conference she attended at two)!

New Moon: How long has [Power Shift] been in the making?

ShadiaShadia Wood: That’s such an interesting question… When we created our three-year campaign plan for the Campus Climate Challenge, which is the Energy Action Coalition’s main campaign, we always knew that we were going to be putting on a national conference at some point. We thought it was going to be the third year. We realized that [at] the rate we were going in year one, we were going to hit a lot of our goals and surpass them by so much. Because the movement and the issue is so on right now, and it’s very apparent, like California is on fire right now. There are so many glaring instances of global warming that across the country we were just hitting our goals and surpassing a lot of them. So we decided that it was actually year two that we needed to have a national convergence on global warming. We kind of figured that out last January. The actual planning—I don’t recommend this for anyone who does want to put on a conference of five thousand young people—took place in about four months… about four or five months. That is a headache and it causes a lot of heartache and it causes a lot of miscommunication, so I don’t recommend that at all, but it is coming together, and it does feel really, really good and exciting. It feels amazing that this is finally happening, and I can’t believe we’re a week away from the conference [at the time of the interview]. Make sure you plan your conferences well in advance.

The Power Shift's official three goals are to make the U.S. presidential candidates and Congress take global warming seriously, to empower a diverse network of leaders, and to achieve broad geographic diversity. What single political action do you personally think would the most difference for the environment right now?

That’s a really good question. The Energy Action Coalition as a whole is pushing the 1Sky Initiative…It’s not a policy, but it’s a policy ask. It’s probably the boldest thing we have out around global warming…Basically what the 1Sky does is it’s teaming up with a bunch of different organizations and coalitions to make sure that we’re asking for the right priorities to be taken. One of those things things, which is the biggest priority, is to mobilize America for solutions, and that creates five million new jobs. They’re trying to launch a green jobs corps. So basically it’s, “How are we helping people who have these industry jobs who aren’t making a lot of money but who are living off of these industry jobs and they’re providing for their family and that’s what they have?” So it’s, “How are we jumping the gun so we’re not in a situation where these people who are low-income are behind and they’re not trained in these new green jobs that are emerging? How do we capitalize on that and make sure that we’re making a safe space for these workers?”

Another [priority] is to secure our future. That is around the emissions reductions, cutting at least eighty percent of below-1990 levels by 2050. That also has benchmark goals, because you can’t just say, “By 2050 you probably should cut around eighty percent.”

And then we have transform our energy priorities, which is reprogramming fossil fuel and highway investments for clean energy choices, so starting with a firm moratorium on coal plants. That is something that the Energy Action Coalition was pushing heavily for—no new coal in general and no coal in general. So it’s pushing for these bold asks.

So that’s our place at the table, Energy Action and youth, is making sure that these policies that are emerging are bold and are asking for things aren’t what’s happening with these other policies like Lieberman and Warner. Making sure that these policies are actually going to be impacting everyone positively, especially low-income and people of color.

What do you think the highlights [of Power Shift] are going to be? What are you most looking forward to?

There are a couple different ones. The more informal ones are how it starts out—everyone’s going to these workshops, and they’re getting all excited, and they’re loading their brains up with all this knowledge, and they’re kind of overwhelmed and psyched at the same time, getting really inspired. And it’s the conversations afterwards, like when you’re going home at night and your brain is swarming, and you’re like, “Oh my God what do we do?” and you have a bunch of youth with you already—you have [about] forty youth leaders maybe in your group—and you sit down and you’re talking. And you are creating state networks, and it’s these initial conversations where things get started, which is so inspiring to me. Energy Action was created after a regional summit in the southeast on someone’s dorm bed, the idea of creating a coalition like Energy Action. So it’s those types of conversations that are really inspiring to me. Those are the highlights, those are the behind-the-scenes things.

Then also there’s also the lobby day and the DC rally, which is going to be really, really exciting. We’ll be on the capital, have a few speakers, and then we’re also going to be hitting up our representatives and pushing for these bold asks. That’s always really exciting to me, especially because I did a lobby campaign for eight years. It’s good to see people out in the streets and doing that.

What is the next step after Power Shift?

The next step is to go back to your homes and your communities, and take it there. It’s taking those skills and inspiration back to your community. Taking those networks that you built and creating something that can have a local impact. You can share those stories.

Thanks, Shadia! As I said, stay tuned for more of our interview. In the meantime, here are some more links to check out:

Girls, your voices make a difference, and it's all about what you have to say. What's your passion?

Signing off, Bissy (Elizabeth!)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Name Game

It is time I said it: I have a nickname. It is Bissy. (This is Elizabeth, new blog coordinator, writing by the way.) I have blog posts on other subjects in store for you, but before I could even go there, I had to get the name thing out on the table. "Elizabeth" sounds so regal, and I treasure it as my given name. But I also love "Bissy." It is the name I gave myself upon learning to speak, unable to pronounce the four-syllable version I was given. I wanted to tell you all right away, first post, but what can I say? Elizabeth is me, too. But "Bissy" really says it all. It is my essence. So from now on, you will be hearing from Bissy.

Making the decision that I would share this in a post, I realized that there was a lot more to say about names in general than just letting you know my nickname. I mean, think about it--for some of us, names simply say it all, for others they fall short of what we want them to say. They are things we celebrate, think about, modify, explain.

For women and girls, names have always had a special significance. The author George Eliot, who wrote in the 1800s, is one example. The woman Mary Ann (Marian) Evans used this name as a pseudonym. She believed that if readers could tell by her name that the author was female, they would not credit her as much as if they thought she was a male. Many female writers published under male pseudonyms, either for Mary Ann Evans' reason or because certain publishers did not accept writing by women. In the present day, I remember hearing that J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, used initials in her pen name so that boy readers would not avoid her work because she was a woman. There are many stories about women's names in history. Do you have one to share?

What do
you think about names and nicknames and how they are different for girls and boys, women and men?

There are more names out there than people's names, too. Sometimes businesses name their products or their very business something to get people's attention. And it can be deceiving. Take Nair Pretty, for instance. The company tries to appeal to tween girls with the word "pretty" in its product line's name. Have you noticed other examples? I want to know.

Names shape our understanding of the world around us--words are names for concepts, concrete objects, people, everything. Different cultures approach names differently and different languages have different . Our picture of a word's meaning in one language can be completely different from the concept we have of it in a different language. Language is fluid and changing and it can shape our understanding of the world without our even noticing.

And then it all comes down to our own names. What do they mean to us, as empowered girls and women? For me, it means embracing my two names and letting myself get down to the essence with you.

Showing you more of my true self now, Bissy (Elizabeth!)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Letting her dreams take off?

Rose Petal Cottage, targeted toward girls three and older, is a new toy from the kids' company Playskool. It is a playhouse (the website says "more than just a playhouse") deemed "the house of her dreams." And what do girls get to make-believe in this dream house? Why, that they are doing laundry, of course. Is that not what every girl dreams of doing when she grows up? Each "cottage" has an accompanying play-stove, and Playskool also sells a (pretend) muffin-making kit, rose motif lounge chair, "nursery set," kitchen sink, and--you guessed it--washing machine to accompany the house. Would anyone ever market the opportunity to pretend to do a load of wash to boys?

The website has an option of viewing an open house to explore the possibilities within the playhouse. In it, a girl demonstrates the various tasks possible within the dream house and its accompanying accessories. Basically, it seems to show the activities of the very stereotypical image of a "dutiful housewife." Many know that the stereotypical image of a woman whose work is at home does not fit AT ALL with what the media tends to portray. While childcare, cooking, and yes, even cleaning for some, are wonderful pursuits if that is where your heart and passion lies, it simply does not work in my mind to assume that all girls must be exposed to the Rose Petal Cottage as the "house of her dreams." It is sort of like saying, "Here girls, limit your image of your life to within these four walls." What about girls' creativity? I would like to know what young girls would have come up with as their ideal houses and seen a product that resulted from collaboration with that information. A product that would have been flexible, changeable beyond which appliances you choose to purchase. What about multiple products, different houses geared toward different girls?

Now, I have to diverge here and talk about my own personal dream house. Although I would truly appreciate some nice appliances in this image of mine, the washer just never comes up when I picture myself there. (You can tell I am hung up on the laundry bit. It is one of my not-so-favorite activities. I have been recently encountering some laundry appliance challenges.) I picture myself out in a beautiful garden, and to tell the truth I really would not mind the whole rose petal effect on the roof and chimney. I like pink, always have, love floral patterns, and did very much used to enjoy taking care of dolls. That is just me, though. Anyway, within the house, I would love a great big desk for writing, a nice big open space for moving around, a sewing room (Again, just me. I happen to love sewing, but that does not mean any other female should or should not.) The whole gender-geared thing is tough. I remember attending a joint birthday party when I was about five of a brother and sister. For the girls, the party favors were princess hats, I believe. For the boys, something like castle buckets. I adored both of these party favors and lobbied hard to take both home. I seriously thought that everyone was going to take home one of each. I was surprised when I encountered a challenge as I tried to walk away with both. Growing up girl is all about finding the voice within and fending off the world's expectations while you do that. Then making that voice heard.

The feminist world has recently experienced a new craft wave after listening to women's voices. First, society made it the status quo and basically the necessity for most women to knit, sew, and craft in other ways. Making the family's clothes, manifesting handkerchiefs, and many other tasks were just part of a woman's world. Then, as feminism hit, women began dropping their needles in protest to what was defined as a "woman's work," and in general the sentiment was that an inclination for crafts and a feminist outlook on life contradicted each other. No more forced tasks that only women had to do. Now, the general consensus seems to be that women should be free to choose about everything in their lives. No more fitting a certain image of either a traditional woman or a feminist. Just being a feminist woman, and defining that individually. A self. An expressive, empowered, and celebratory inner voice showing up on the outside.

All this makes me think about a favorite recording of mine. It is from Free to Be... You and Me. The segment I love is called "Housework," and the actress Carol Channing narrates it. In it she recites such pearls of wisdom as, "Children, when you have a house of your own,/Make sure, when there's house work to do,/That you don't have to do it alone." It is truly a stellar piece of work, in my opinion. (I listened to the CD repeatedly when I was eleven. I am going to have to diverge again to extol its virtues. I played the CD for my younger cousins, I listened to it to help me go to sleep sometimes, I sang along to it quite a bit. There's one song on the CD, "It's Alright to Cry," that I truly treasure. I choreographed a dance to it when I was fourteen. The album, which is from the 1970s but still applies today, challenges gender stereotypes and celebrates children's freedom to be themselves. OK, my ode to Free to Be... You and Me now over. I could go on, though.)

Back to Playskool, though. By now, you have gotten my opinion of Rose Petal Cottage. I would have liked to see some flexibility with it, some insinuation that girls do not have to conform to this image whatsoever, and some realistic input from a range of girls. I think it would have been pretty cool if they had thrown in a pretend tool set or maybe a science lab add-on. I would have liked those when I was younger.

What do
you think? Please, please, please, share your opinion! It does not have to go along with a thing I have to say. All you have to do is express yourself from your gut. Do you think that the toy world markets fairly to girls? Do you wish toys were more gender-neutral? What kind of images do you think young girls should be exposed to in the media?

I want to know. I will be waiting excitedly to hear your responses!

Sending you a heap of empowerment, Elizabeth

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

School Days

Why hello! We posted your responses about school in September, and it has sure kept you sharing! The school year is in full gear, and you have lots to say about what your school is like, why you go there, and what you would like to change. We all know school is about a lot more than classes. I could go on and on about education (I was an education minor in college), but for now, I want to share what you have to say. Thanks for your input! I am so excited to share more girls' voices on the subject of school:


The first thing other kids usually ask me when I tell them I’m home schooled is “how do you make friends?” What I tell them is always the same. I have a lot of friends. Most of them I know through my support group. Support groups are a bunch of home schoolers who get together, often at parks or for activities like field trips or classes. My support group gets together every Thursday at different parks. Before we go to the park some people go to workshops, like writing groups and book clubs, that the moms organize.

My family has been coming to the group since I was two, and most of the girls my age have been coming to the group for at least four or five years, although we do have some newer girls. My oldest friend from my group has been coming to the group for about eight years, since we were three. Two of my other friends have been coming to the group for six or seven years—and then there is another girl, who just joined a few weeks ago. Also, because there aren’t as many girls my age in my group as there are in a school, I’m pretty close to all the eleven and twelve-year-old girls in the group. At the park, my friends and I like to play tag, climb trees and just talk! In the past we have had clubs where we play games and make crafts. We’ve performed plays, and we’ve choreographed dances for our group’s Talent Show.

We recently started a mother-daughter group called the Saturn Sisters. We meet once a month at each
other’s houses and talk about growing up and being a girl. Outside of my support group I have a lot of other friends. I go to ballet class four times a week and have become friends with a lot of the girls, especially the ones that have been in my class for three or four years. I have two good friends who are my neighbors that both go to school. I also go to summer camps and make friends there. And I will always have an everlasting friendship with my cousin, who’s just a month and five days younger then me. Over all, even though I don’t go to school I still have a lot of friends. Enough that I have trouble keeping my birthday parties small, especially when they’re sleepovers!

--Lily, 11

Private School

I have recently started seventh grade at an all girls’ school. Though some girls may think me crazy, I chose it over another school that was co-ed for a reason. At my elementary school, though I had my crush here and there, I began to get sick of boys thinking they could control us girls. I hated the way they were so arrogant and always being over-aggressive. They always got control of the play-yard, and when one or two of us decided it was too much, they ganged up on us and we ended up right where we started.

I believe that if all of us girls had decided to try and get a piece of the yard for ourselves, we could have. Unfortunately, my friends always said things like “Well, they never play football, we should let them do it for once,” “But we don’t want to play kickball,” “I don’t want to get in a fight with them, they’ll get angry.” This made me feel like the ten boys in our class of eighteen had control over us. I don’t like anything that is prejudice or sexist, especially when I am involved in it. It was usually only me or maybe one other girl trying to fight for eight of us.

The worst of it was that some boys, who were the nicest ones there, probably felt the way I did. But did they stand up to the other boys? No, they were afraid of being teased for taking sides with the girls. This is the main reason why I decided to change schools. Now I am enjoying an all girls’ school with my old friends, who didn’t want to stand up to the boys, and new friends, including someone who I hope will become my best friend.

The greatest thing about an all girls’ school is that not many girls are showing off to “get boys,” something that gives me the creeps. You can go to school with un-brushed hair, you didn’t take a shower, and no one cares! I love my new school for all of my listed reasons and hope that girls around the world can have courage enough to stand up against people who are being prejudiced and unfair.

--Kayla, 13

Public School

I go to a public Montessori school. I have been in Montessori for 6 years. I like Montessori because you can do what you want when you want to do it. So, say you really like math, then you can do a math work, like square root where you make a square out of pegs on a peg board, while someone else is doing research on a horse or something. Montessori classrooms are mixed age classrooms. There’s ages 3-6, 6-9, and 9-12. Last year one of the fourth graders was doing 7th grade algebra. New Moon wrote that Montessori discourages testing. However, in my class we have a pre-spelling test and a post spelling test every week. Because we are a public school, we have standardized tests including math, language, and science tests every 6 weeks. We also take my state's yearly standardized tests starting in 3rd grade.

--Cora, 10

As a ninth grader at our local three-year junior high school, I've seen a lot. Every year, the incoming seventh graders seem to care increasingly more about their images and less about their grades. Our school rules clearly state "No shorts or skirts above knee-length." and "All shirts must be sleeved, or shoulders must be covered." Nowhere in the rules does it say "Welcome seventh graders! Because you're new to this school, we'll just give you a warning every time your shorts look like underwear and your shirts are more like bikinis. Oh, and since we're letting you get off, we might as well let the ninth and eighth graders do it, too. Have a great year!" It seems to me as if the school district thinks that just because we're still in middle school, we're still innocent and the media hasn't gotten to our heads yet. I'd like to write them a lengthly e-letter explaining just how wrong they are. I don't want to make any stereotypes against these girls, but the fact that these twelve-year-olds are drinking water and picking at low-cal chips for lunch scares me. In their attempts to grow up faster and be more like the girls they see on TV, these poor seventh graders have been morphed into the likes of sophomores, and are shown no mercy by the media.

All of this on top of the fact that grades are slipping, both district- and nation-wide. It makes me wonder what will happen in twenty or thirty years, when the leaders of today are retired and the girls I see strutting through the hallways with painted faces and tiny skirts are forced into leadership. And trust me on this one, it's not just the girls. The guys are also tricked by the media. They've been led to believe that the only girls "worthy" of their attention are the skinny ones with cheer-leading uniforms and pounds of makeup coating their faces. School no longer means "education"; it's means "reputation". And honestly, I'm terrified of what's going to happen to these kids when they discover that they need more than just good looks to get into college, or get a job. Maybe some of them haven't been so influenced by the magazines and TV shows, but it's coming. The influence of peer-pressure has unbelievable powers, especially in a junior high that is so tightly controlled by the "popular" group.

Just when it seems that the hierarchy of the marketing community will be overthrown by the people, it lets another stream of propaganda into the system. Each time I think it has to end somewhere, I see another mile of lies stretching in the distance. The only thing I know is this; The next time my little brother (who is, by chance, one of the very seventh graders I speak of) asks a girl out on a "dare date", I'll march right up and end it. If no one else will put a stop to this distorted reality, I will. And I encourage every other girl out there to do the same.

--Lauren, 14

I go to a public charter school for home schoolers. Here is how it works. My parents teach me math, writing, science, history, p.e., spelling and typing. On Wednesdays I take classes with other home schoolers. I also have an E.C. (education coordinater) who my parents and I meet with every six weeks to show her my work samples. We also make a plan for the next six weeks.

The school also does organized field trips. I have not been one yet but when classes start I might go on field trips. But it depends on if kids my age go.

I am glad I get to go to a school were I can make friends but do not have to see them everyday. I am also glad there is less teasing and more fun.

--Abby 11

Thanks for sharing your unique experiences! Keep in touch with responses and comments as the school year goes on. What do you think? I cannot wait to hear more from you!

Sending happiness your way, Elizabeth

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Girl's Best Friend

It takes guts to be a girl in this world. There is no denying it. It is an exciting and fruitful position to have, but it takes a certain amount of courage. There are media images to combat, stereotypes to face, and the ongoing processes of connecting to and holding onto the true voice within herself. Every girl is brave.

One brave girl who has shown up in the news lately is twelve-year-old Shea Megale. Together with her five-year-old companion dog Mercer, she is trying to get the news out about Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a condition that has resulted in her use of a wheelchair to get around. Mercer, Shea, and her mother recently did a television interview to promote Shea's new book, Marvelous Mercer. Shea is remarkably well-spoken, showing the world just what girls have in store for it in terms of an ability to make a difference. "I want to do things to change the world. I think kids like us can," Shea says on the Marvelous Mercer website. She sounds like a New Moon girl!

Marvelous Mercer tells the imagined story of Mercer's nighttime adventures, taking part in the physical activities like ice skating that Shea herself cannot because of her SMA. One point that Shea's mother makes in the interview is that the Marvelous Mercer books (the book is planned to turn into a series) help take the focus off of Shea by focusing people's attention on her dog. It takes bravery to attract the amount of attention that Shea does just by going to the store, and it takes even more to channel her experience constructively by writing. Her "disability" is transformed into a heightened ability to imagine.

This leads me to my questions for you readers. If you had been inventing the English language, what would you have called the word "disability" instead? To me, it's always seemed like it shouldn't have anything that suggests a negative the way the prefix "dis-" so wrongly does. Do any of the alternate terms out there? Or does something like "unexpectedly gifted" ring more of a bell in your heart? I want to know.

What about companion animals? There are all kinds--seeing eye dogs, hearing ear dogs, the list goes on... Do you or someone you know have a special companion animal who makes a difference? In the television interview, Shea pointed out that of all the miraculous things Mercer can do for her, like turning on the lights and opening doors, the most valuable of all is being her best friend.

Bravery has many forms, and this evening I want to celebrate all of you brave girls out there.

Adios for now, Elizabeth

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Let's Clarify "Pretty"

I paused when I heard the name of the new product Nair Pretty. This product is targeted at girls just becoming aware of their changing body hair. "Feel pretty every day!" the website boasts. Are they trying to imply that removing your body hair makes you feel prettier? "Pretty isn't a look it's a feeling," the website also reminds visitors. This confuses me. What further confounds me is another blurb from the main website, this about the discovery of more noticeable body hair: "Chill. You're growing's all good." Well, yes, growing up is a celebration.

If the company wants girls to "feel pretty every day," and they understand that "pretty isn't a look, it's a feeling," and they are also encouraging girls not to worry about their changing bodies, that it is all part of the natural progression to womanhood, then why are they endorsing hair removal? I personally feel a lot prettier now that I do not shave or remove my hair in any other way. When I used to, it only served to make me more self-conscious and occupy my mind with fitting in enough shower time to shave. I did not have as much time to value my natural beauty and listen to my internal voice. Taking a deep breath, I looked around at all the animals I saw sporting their normal hair, and trusted that if they had the guts to strut their stuff proudly, so did I. I do feel pretty every day, and it is because of a feeling rather than external cues (although I also celebrate my outward appearance, as I believe everyone should, no matter what). I think every woman and girl deserves to have the chance to choose what works for her without advertisers sneaking in ways to trigger self-consciousness.

Admittedly, the angle that Nair Pretty seems to be taking is that their product is a prettier alternative to shaving. They are not directly saying that it is prettier than no removal. However, there seems to be no implication that a girl would ever choose the very healthy option of leaving her body hair just where it is. Besides, how many times have I witnessed or heard of rashes people got from using Nair?

Well, now I want to know what you think about this new product. Feel free to voice your opinion, and feel free if you have a completely different opinion than I do. How do you feel about the pressure on females to remove their body hair? Does it seem unfair to you that there are different standards for hair removal for males and females? What about the fairness of the specific age group Nair Pretty is targeting?

I want to know. (A character in a favorite series of mine, Anne of Green Gables, always said that to the main character, Anne. You may hear me use that line a lot.)

I want to remind all you girl readers that you shine from within no matter what.

Signing off, Elizabeth

Blogging with WinJournal: A Review by Over the Moon Intern, Katherine King

The software WinJournal is a journaling/diary program that allows users to write their own “journal” entries—complete with pictures, custom styles, password settings, and more. It wasn’t too cluttered either, the options were clear and easy to find and use. It offers just about everything you could think of using for a handwritten journal and then some, like links to music or websites that you enjoy. But it is not a blog.

Debatably, this is a better option than blogging, which is useful and fun for sharing ideas, but is nowhere near as secure or easy as WinJournal. Because of the security settings on WinJournal, you can write about whatever you want, regardless of how personal the topic is. On personal blog sites, the user has to be aware that anyone can access her blog and read personal thoughts that she may not want to share with the public.

Your WinJournal can be simple and professional, or fancy and personal. It allows you to write up as many separate entries per day as you want, and you can title them and search for them later on the mini-calendar provided. You can protect one entry with a password, or the whole journal. I would recommend this software to girls who would like an easy, fun, and secure place to record their thoughts and ideas!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hi, I'm Elizabeth!

Hi, my name is Elizabeth! I am the new blog coordinator, so you'll be hearing from me on here a lot. I hope that means I'll be hearing a lot back from girls! You have such valuable voices.

I know how good it feels to be a girl and have a place to use your voice, because when I was eleven, I joined the editorial board for New Moon's series of four books. They were published in 1999 and 2000, about three years after the editorial board was formed. Each book was on a different subject--Money, Friendship, Writing, and Sports--and the book series had a separate editorial board from the magazine, which we called the BGEB (Book Girls Editorial Board). First we brainstormed what would be in them at a special meeting in New York City, then we all went home (to such varied locales as Alaska, Hawaii, Minnesota, and more) and started writing. We kept in touch through the internet. Once our writing was combined with excerpts from back issues of New Moon, we got to see the galleys, the term for the almost-finished version of a book. We gave our last input, and they were published by Crown, with our names on the cover page! Even though that was a long time ago, I still keep those memories close at heart. The best part was learning how powerful girls can be.

In my bio for the books, I wrote that I loved "anything that involves making something," and that's a good way to introduce myself in the present day, too. I discovered over the past year that I could design and make my own clothing, and it was so liberating! My clothing choices didn't have to depend on what the stores sold anymore. Now in my early twenties, I am still passionate about writing and making things, especially sewing clothing, as you have gathered. My dream is to be a full-time writer and advocate for girls and women. Nature and health are my two newest interests that I know are here to stay, and I have every plan of discovering many more passions and interests as my life proceeds.

Sometimes leaps and bounds in life aren't as far away as you might expect. I want to let all of you know that I am thrilled to be the new blog coordinator--I've got lots of ideas for topics to encourage your voices. I'm going to go get reading what you've sent in!

Until next time, Elizabeth

Friday, October 12, 2007

Calling All Girl Writers!

Do you love musicals, or have you ever been in one?

New Moon is looking for girls to write about musicals! For the March/April 2008 issue of New Moon “Listen to This (The Music Issue)”, we are doing a feature story about musicals. We would like to hear from girls who would like to explain how musicals work in comparison to “normal” plays, or for any girl to write to us about their experience of being in a musical!
Like always, The Girls Editorial Board (GEB) will pick what stories they would like to see in the issue.

What New Moon needs from you for this feature:

* Have fun, make it interesting, and be creative!!!!
* The feature should be 600 words or so (but don’t worry if it is more!)
* We should receive your feature by November 1st; you can either send
it by email or send it to our office at:
New Moon Publishing
2W. 1st street, Suite 101
Duluth, MN 55802 !

* If you have any questions please email me at:,
or call me at 218-728-5507, ext. 20.

I hope to hear back from you soon!

Do you think you're Beautiful? That's 'cuz you are! *Deadline Extended to the 19th of October!

It’s time to start thinking about next year’s “25 Beautiful Girls” issue! It won’t be like any Beautiful Girls issue you’ve ever seen before. Since the “25 Beautiful Girls” issue started, we’ve asked friends and family to nominate girls for being beautiful just the way they are. But even though it’s important for people to recognize beauty in others, it’s important for YOU to recognize it in yourself, too. That’s why our theme for the May/June 2008 issue is “25 Beautiful Girls: Toot Your Own Horn.” For this issue, we want you to nominate YOURSELF! Let us know exactly what makes YOU beautiful!

The deadline has been extended to Friday October 19th!

Check out the submission guidelines here. We look forward to hearing from you!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


New Moon has hired four new awesome women. Keep reading to learn more about them!

Melissa Harrison, our new Managing Editor for New Moon magazine, comes to us after five years in the nonprofit and higher education world doing print and e-communications. Melissa studied strategic communications at the University of Minnesota where she met her husband Mat (yes, that's with one t) in the Tate Lab of Physics. Seemed only fitting that their first-born be named Tate. Melissa serves on the board of directors for Minnesota Women in Marketing and Communications, is a scrapbooking addict, loves reading and playing the piano (though not simultaneously), and most of all enjoys letting her hair down to be silly with her kids, Tate and Haley. Melissa does most of her work from her home in the Twin Cities area and comes to the Duluth office about once a week.

Marisa McKie is our new Assistant Editor for New Moon magazine. She interned with us this summer and we loved her so much we asked her to come back after being gone for only a week and a half! Currently, Marisa is a student at the University of Minnesota Duluth. She is finishing up her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication, and working on minors in Journalism and Arts in Media. Some of Marisa’s favorite things to do are snowboarding, swimming, reading, camping, and playing music.

Julia Barenboim (aka Julia Barry) is a new Assistant Online Editor for the online experience for girls ages 13-15 that will launch in spring 2008. Julia is really psyched to be joining the New Moon team all the way from her home in New Jersey! (Technology is a wonderful thing!) Julia has a BA in women's studies/multimedia from Sarah Lawrence College and just finished her MA in interactive media from Goldsmiths College, London (Cheers, mate!). She loves to do ongoing projects for women's advocacy and social change, and won't give up on optimism! Julia treasures friendship, creativity, music, and swimming in lakes.

Christine Lunde is a new Assistant Online Editor for the online experience. Christine recently graduated from Indiana University-Bloomington with a degree in Journalism and concentration in Sociology. A native Duluthian, Christine is thrilled to be working for New Moon Publishing. Outside of New Moon she coaches cross-country running and enjoys Northern Minnesota’s wilderness.

Welcome everyone! We are so excited to have you on board!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

These Dolls Don't Play Nice

I was at the Hallmark store the other day getting birthday cards when I saw a rack of Ty Girlz – plush adolescent-looking dolls accompanied by an online code which grants the buyer entry into the Ty Girlz virtual world. I was curious about what Ty (the company that makes these dolls as well as the popular Beanie Babies) had created as their world, and why lately, I have witnessed an outbreak of teenager dolls (think Bratz, This is Me, etc.). I decided to buy one and do some of my own dollerific research.

Perusing my options, I wondered why all the dolls had such downright mean and sarcastic facial expressions. It seems we Americans think that teenage insolence is the coolest thing around, and further reinforce this idea—often culturally attributed to movies, music videos, and celebrities—by selling such dolls to 6 to 13-year-old girls. (I recalled a small girl I had seen the day before in a parking lot, strutting around in a mini skirt and high-heeled boots while holding her mother’s hand. It seemed to me the sale of those clothes benefited the manufacturer more than her.) In the end, I chose Rockin’ Ruby, a rocker chick in all-black faux vinyl or leather. Outfitted with a belly-button ring, choker (wow, a whole ’nother blog could be written on why it’s called that!), platforms, and oodles of makeup, she seemed like the toughest of the lot. (They each sported heels of some sort, makeup, and plenty of accessories though.)

As it turned out, Rockin’ Ruby had just been “retired” (no more of her type of doll will be made), but I could see from her goodbye messages in Ty Girlz world that her persona was a young woman on tour with a band, a teenager whose “positive” traits of independence and musical talent were actually just a hankering to party and dress like a celebrity bad-girl. The rest of the Ty Girlz were equally as into being flirty and glamorous (aka sexually suggestive and super-duper slim) according to their bios and appearances—but who can enjoy your own snazziness when you’re so busy worrying about how you look and which new clothes you need to buy? (You apparently also “NEED” to buy the rest of the Ty Girlz dolls to complete your collection, a direct marketing effort built straight into this world for girls.)

I apologize for judging the dolls based on their external features and certainly hope I am not promoting any negative stereotypes by discussing the personality types these dolls are meant to be, but it’s important to point out that someone purposely created their “looks” and “personas” in order to turn a profit. These skinny, lollipop-headed dolls make cool the anorexic/bulimic body figure, as if feeling bad about yourself, your life, and the state of the world, is normal or even fun and desirable. They imitate the insecurity many of us feel about our external appearances, activities, and relationships—and that makes them cool enough to buy? How confusing.

The Ty company, by involving real girls in their dolls’ virtual world, have infused these toys with a celebrity effect: that of being role models despite that they’re not real people in girls’ personal lives. The Ty Girlz world is a higher-pitched, curliqued version of the commercial MTV atmosphere. As I surfed the site, loud rock or dance music erupted from my screen to accompany chat rooms, fitting rooms, and bedrooms. All there is to do is shop (for clothes or furniture for your house), chat, and play games that all center around a gabby (even catty), sexy climate—and one that ultimately is simply there to endorse the Ty product. After playing some shopping, dressing, and dancing games (whose characters ask you aloud in a girls’ voice to help them “look perfect” or “look my best”), I became hopeful that the trivia game might offer a more interesting and 3-dimensional horizon to this world. When I found that it only featured Ty Girlz “facts,” I truly felt the narrow confines of the Ty Girlz universe: It would be like living in a mall, where every fashion, friend, activity, and thought is dictated to you. For all its colors, cell phone rings, zooming cars, makeover before-and-after shots, and easily-earned Girlz world money—all you have to do is stay and play, and your bank account fills again—its shallow interactivity would not normally hold girls’ attention. But feeling bad about what they look like, what activities they do, and how much money they have compared to their co-avatars sure might.

I am highly disappointed that today’s toys—objects that used to stimulate children’s imaginations—now tell girls not only how to play with them and who they should aspire to become but also who to be now. (One could criticize traditional babydolls for influencing girls’ hopes of eventual motherhood, but Ty Girlz and other such dolls pressure girls to be chic, sexually active, and exterior-focused in their current lives.) And while the Ty Girlz dolls may be accompanied by a bajillion play options that seem to expand or improve upon real-life make-believe—She’s not hard plastic! She’s a friend closer to your age! You can buy her tons of virtual outfits in any color!—her personality, fashion sense, wishes, and ambitions are built-in and pretty unchangeable. (Yes, Rockin’ Ruby’s shiny silver panties are woven into her skin and the rest of her clothes are sewn on—not to mention, the size of her head ensures that she will stick with her current top forever. Clearly, this IS the outfit she wants to be wearing.)

Even if I consider social or community aspects offered by the Girlz world that one might not have with a regular ol’ lone toy, in addition to the confusion between doll and self caused by the online avatar world, these dolls as playthings teach girls that appropriate friendship activities are to “dress up your room” and “give your girls makeovers.” (In imitation of today’s narcissistic ‘social networking’ friendship sites, the “All About Me” section is coming soon to The Girlz chat-room scene is equally as grim. The fact that—against a background of animated silhouettes clubbing—clickable pre-written phrases exist to aid girls too young to type gives me a clear signal that perhaps they shouldn’t be there, and that this is not a place where real friends are found. (Moreover, the fact that I signed up as a 25-year-old yet had full access to the chat rooms doesn’t make me feel any better about the security of girls who might be excited by a stranger’s flattery.)

One website cannot of course single-handedly make a girl devalue herself, no less contribute to how secure she is as she becomes a woman in her teenage years. But in a nation where girls’ (and therefore women’s) self-esteem is dropping, I would say that it certainly adds to—and profits from—the cacophony of voices telling females of all ages who and how to be.

But enough of my ideas—what do YOU think about these dolls? What are your opinions about doll ages (baby, girl, teen, adult)? Do you have TY Girlz or similar dolls with an online playspace? How are they the same and different than dolls that don’t have an online world? What do you think are the pros and cons of playing online? Feel free to disagree with anything I said or comment on a related question I didn’t mention—let your voice be heard! I look forward to reading…

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Be PROUD of who you are!

I think we would all agree that we all have things about ourselves that we wish we could change…longer legs, slimmer waist, etc. After all, at the end of the day, you are your biggest critic. But, what if we start embracing those little “imperfections” as perfection. These are what make you unique! Why would you ever want to look like everyone else? You would never stand out in the world! This is the focus of the organization Proud Girls, Inc. and The company was started by two women, Carla and Diane, who were fed up with the media’s portrayal of women and the effects it was having on women and girls’ self-esteem. Part of their mission statement reads,

“Imagine not comparing yourself to anyone else, ever again.
Imagine that day when you can be who you are, finally.
Imagine helping to support other PROUDgirls who need your help.
Imagine the power of helping each other to achieve this goal.
It is time we all agree to hangPROUD!”

I don’t think they could have said it any better. Be PROUD in the things you have accomplished and accept compliments from those around you because, in the end, it’s those little compliments that give you the drive to do great things!

There are also opportunities on their website to post your own story on why you are a PROUD girl and what it means to you to be proud of yourself. This can be very inspirational to many young girls because sometimes you may not know exactly what it is that you're proud of…but you’ll figure it out soon enough. As long as you keep your proud head high you will find it!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Calling All Girl Writers!!!

Have you ever wanted to be a music critic? Here is your chance!

New Moon is looking for a girl writer to compose a CD review of an album that you think sheds women in a positive light for our March/April music issue, “Listen to This!”

Here are some guidelines and questions to keep in mind when creating your review:

- Choose an album by a female musician that you believe has a strong impact on women and how they are perceived.
- Let us know what you like and don’t like about the CD and why.
- Are there specific songs or lyrics that give you inspiration?
- What kinds of instruments were used? What kinds of dynamics were explored?
- Why is this CD so unique and special in your eyes?
- Where did you hear about this artist/CD?
- Make sure to keep the critique to 600 words.
- The deadline is October 15th, 2007

We hope to hear from you!

Hannah Simpson
Editorial Intern
New Moon Publishing