Real Girl Real World

ABOUT THE BOOK We wrote Real Girl/Real World, because it is a resource that we would have liked to have read growing up. The book explores: beauty standards and the media; body image and self-esteem; eating disorders and good nutrition; sex and sexuality; and feminism and today's activists. It's full of real girls' experiences, showing that there is no one way to navigate the twisting road of adolescence.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

We were almost banned

Samantha and I have noticed that what is "okay" to discuss with girls in a book seems to be getting narrower. For example, our book talks about sex. And when the first edition came out in 1998, we were applauded for being real and the NY Public Library selected RGRW to be part of it's list of recommended books for Teens. The new edition came out in 2005 and well....there seems to be more hesitation about whether topics such as: "How to decide if you are ready to have sex," "How to keep sex safe", "Oral sex," and "Coming out as a gay teen," should be included in a book for teenage girls. Sometimes you hope that you are just being overly sensitive, but then we recently found out that our book was on a request to be banned list in Cape May, NJ! (Hey, and I'm a NJ girl - born and raised in Princeton, NJ).
Luckily, the county library commissioners took a stand against censorship. Here is the article.
We would love to hear your comments. Thank you and our best to "The Notebook Girls " and "Journey Out" -- our sisters in keeping it real. :)

Rare Request Denied County Library
By Christine Cote | Published 11/22/2006 | General News
County Library: 'We Don't Ban Books' - Wed. Nov. 22, 2006
COURT HOUSE — County library commissioners took a stand against censorship Nov. 15 when they unanimously agreed with Director Andrew Martin that three books should not be removed from library shelves.
In one of his last official tasks, Martin, who retires Nov. 30 (see story page ?), told commissioners that a patron had written, requesting three volumes be removed from the young adult collection.
The books are:
“Real Girl/Real World: Tools for Finding Your Real Self,” by Heather M. Gray and Samantha Phillips.
• “The Notebook Girls,” by Julia Baskin, Lindsey Newman, Sophie Pollitt-Cohen and Courtney Toombs.
• “The Journey Out: A Guide for and about Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Teens,” with Cheryl Schwartz.
Martin explained that the issue was probably moot as to the last book since it could not be found, although it had received “good reviews.” He added, “It had gone out once in 11 years.”
As to the first book, he said it was non-fiction and discussed issues relevant to teen-age girls. According to the Internet, these topics include “beauty, body image, eating disorders, sexuality, and feminism,” and the book contains quotes from young women “who are the same age as the intended audience.”

Read more....

Thursday, March 01, 2007

5 Easy Actions to Help Prevent Eating Disorders

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week is Febuary 25- March 3, 2007

It is estimated that 10 out of every 100 young women suffer from an eating
disorder. These women are your sisters, friends, cousins, daughters,
nieces, neighbors—people you see nearly every day. If being a role model
would prevent any of these special people from developing an eating
disorder, would you do it? If you answered yes, read on. Experts say that
eating disorders are much easier to prevent than to cure. No matter what
your age—teen or grandma—taking these actions can help heal a young
woman's disturbed eating before it starts:

1. Don't diet. According to the experts at Anorexia Nervosa and Related
Eating Disorders, dieting is the strongest eating disorder trigger there
is. In fact, young women who go on low-calorie diets are 18 times more
likely to develop an eating disorder than non-dieters. Just as shocking:
Three of the strongest risk factors in the development of an eating
disorder are a mother who diets, a sister who diets, or friends who diet.

2. Forbid teasing about body shape and size. People are sensitive to
other people's opinions. Even what seems like playful teasing—for
instance, calling someone "bubble butt"—can wound a person's self-esteem
and even push her to diet away the offensive body part.

3. Praise people for who they are, not how they look. By emphasizing
people's talents and abilities, you send a powerful message that an
individual's soul and her accomplishments are more important than her face
or body size.

4. Be comfortable in your skin. Use and enjoy your body for all the
wonderful things it can do. Never criticize it's shape or refuse to
partake in an activity (such as swimming) because of it's size or how it
looks in a bathing suit. How you treat your own body sends a powerful
message to young women regarding how to treat their own bodies.

5. Speak out against unrealistic media portrayals of women. Young women
are so bombarded with images of surgically-altered, airbrushed, and
unnaturally thin women that they assume these images are how a normal
woman should look. When you see such an image in a magazine, on a
billboard, in an advertisement, on a website, on TV, or in a movie, say
something out loud. Start a dialogue. Get people thinking about what
"normal" really is. Feeling energetic? Enlist a friend or daughter or
other young woman to draft a letter to the offender.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

When I Knew

Oprah did a great show today called "When I Knew I Was Gay." Carson Kressley (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy) said he knew when he was four years old.

As we write in Real Girl Real World (page 136, Coming Out: A Lifelong Process) "During our teen years, we are exploring sexual experiences --in a sense trying them on. We are deciding what--and whom--we like sexually. This can be an exciting time, but also a confusing one, especially if we have sexual feelings for someone of the same sex."

"When I Knew" is also the title of the book by Robert Trachtenberg.
Here's a description:
Readers will fall in love with these anecdotes, from the seven-year-old who looked under the television set to sneak a peek under Tarzan's loincloth, to the inquisitive grandmother who asked her grandson, "You don't like a girl to get married? You prefer a boy?", to the courageous field trip participant who passed up the universal favorite burger-and-fry combo in favor of the fruit plate with cottage cheese.

Seems like a great resource for gay teens, their parents, and... well, anyone.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Miami Herald Article

Samantha Phillips (co-author Real Girl Real World) wrote an article on sex education in the classroom for the Miami Herald (See the Education Section of the Sunday, July 24, 2005 paper).

Read about this important topic: the following is an excerpt with a link to the full article and suggested resources.


"Classes try to separate myth, facts: In Broward and Miami-Dade schools, sex education courses are designed to provide students with information that will protect them."


Special to The Herald

``If using one condom is good, then wearing two must be better.''

``The withdrawal method is safe.''

``Oral sex is not having sex.''

``If you don't have your period yet, then you can't get pregnant.''

These are some of the most common myths that Vicki Bogdan, a science teacher at Palmetto Middle School in Pinecrest, hears every year from her students. ''That is why sex education is so important,'' Bogdan explains. ``Every year I also hear questions about homosexuality, masturbation and hermaphrodites. The kids are curious, and we can answer their questions factually.''

Unless your child is encased in a glass bubble, he or she will be inundated with sexual messages from television, magazines, explicit lyrics, the Internet and that live-wire of misinformation -- the peer group. Enter the role of sex education in school, an essential opportunity to sort fact from fiction.

''Our main focus is on keeping kids safe,'' says Lilia Garcia, administrative director in the Division of Life Skills and Special Projects for Miami-Dade public schools. ''We teach that abstinence is best, but we have to be realistic, so we also teach how to protect yourself if you do choose to be sexually active,'' That realism can save lives, especially since 60 percent of teens do have sex by the end of 12th grade.

''We promote abstinence,'' says William Sydnor, Family Life and HIV coordinator for Broward County schools, ``but we also want to give students the skills to make informed and responsible decisions when they do have sex. We don't want to withhold information that can save a life.''

Read more of this article:

Suggested Sources from article:

Thursday, June 16, 2005

NYC Real Girl Event at Bluestockings, June 20th

Samantha and I are having our first New York City reading and discussion of the new edition this Monday, June 20th. We will talk about why we wrote our teen girl guidebook, the issues that girls are facing today, and how we got published.

Intested in any of these things? We would love to have you there!!

MONDAY, JUNE 20th, 7-8pm.


Bluestockings is located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan at 172 Allen Street between Stanton and Rivington - which is 1 block south of Houston and 1st Avenue.

By train: 1 block south of the F train's 1st Avenue stop and just 5 blocks from the JMZ-line's Essex / Delancey Steet stop.

By car: If you take the Houston exit off of the FDR, then turn left onto Essex (aka Avenue A), then right on Rivington, and finally right on Allen, you will be very, very close.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Fat Actress or Phat Actress?

I have always loved Kirstie Alley. She is a talented, comedic actress, self-expressed, radiant and fun to watch. And these days she is creating a lot of headlines and some controversy with her new series, "Fat Actress." So, is she a role model? Or is her portrayal of a "Fat Actress" only feeding the fat girl stereotypes? Samantha and I think that it's great that Alley isn't hiding her curves or relegated to the back pages of a magazines as the "What happened to her?" girl. And for that we say: bravo! Hollywood definitely needs more of that on the red carpet. But what is the message that is being sent? The spin seems to be that she won't really be happy until she is telling us how much weight she lost on her Jenny Craig diet. And for a woman wielding as much influence as Kirstie Ally is right now, that is a shame. Frankly, the whole thing has left us feeling confused.

Here are two opinions, worth reading...

Size Acceptance writes that they "aren't laughing" at 'Fat Actress.'
NEW YORK CITY - The International Size Acceptance Association (ISAA) is not amused by “Fat Actress,” Showtime’s new comedy starring Kirstie Alley. After viewing the premiere episode, ISAA believes the show sends mixed messages to its viewers concerning weight and body image. For example, Alley herself perpetuates fat stereotypes of always eating, being clueless, slobbish and out of control. Alley uses fat-bashing language towards numerous plus-sized male actors, considers weight loss dieting and bulimic behavior while at the same time longing to be accepted at the size she is.

And, on the other side, from my friend Beth Schoenfeldt of Flo Inc in her weekly "Flo Moment":
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Phat Actress
Everybody has a fat day, a fat season, or even a fat year. What everybody doesn't have is a national campaign aimed at pointing out your eternally expanding hips and bulging belly. Anonymity has its perks and allows the luxury of getting away with your fat pants for a few days (or, okay, seasons.) Kirstie Alley, former Cheers gal pal and now the star of "Fat Actress" hasn't had that luxury. Her weight, a constant and very public battle, has been a perpetual topic of gossip in the tabloid press. Can you imagine being the source of national criticism andsnickering and turning the situation around to work for you? Well our girl Kirstie has, she's landed a TV show (however corny) and a contract with Jenny Craig; talk about lemons to turns out she has made millions from her weight gain! Taking a negative to a positive maystrike most of us as an eye rolling cliche! yeah, yeah, yeah, glass half full, but even you have to be impressed at how Alley turned her nay-sayers on their heads by profiting from what most people would consider debilitating.
(read more of this flo moment...)

UPCOMING EVENT: Book Signing in Miami

We are doing a book signing at Books and Books in Miami on April 20th at 6pm.

It's our first event for the new edition of "Real Girl / Real World: A Guide to Finding Your True Self."

Come by and see us or invite a friend!

Wednesday April 20th
Books and Books
265 Aragon Avenue
Coral Gables, Florida

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The New Edition