It’s not just Trump: How we talk with girls about their bodies

I Am. How we talk to girls about their bodies.

“Locker room talk” and the old “boys will be boys” attitude creates and sustains rape culture and body shaming to persist. But how we don’t talk with girls about their bodies is also hurting them.

I Am. How we talk to girls about their bodies.

“You’re so pretty!” the speaker announced, looking directly at her. The 16-year old girl blushed, smiled awkwardly, and shrank down into her seat. Sitting 5 rows behind, I could feel her discomfort as half the room turned to look at her.


A few months ago, I spoke at an event for teen leaders. Waiting at the back of the room for the first speaker to finish, I watched and listened as he walked down the aisle to hand out papers for the co-ed group to take home. As the 60ish man spoke and walked, he came to the last row of students, handed a stack of papers to the young woman on the aisle, and exclaimed, “You’re so pretty!”


Her reaction hit me like a punch in my gut. She shrunk down in her seat and ducked her head down.


“Ick,” I quietly said out loud.


A minute later, realizing the back row didn’t get enough papers, the speaker returned, handed the same young woman a few more copies, and commented again to her, “You really are so pretty!”


The student cringed down in her chair even further, and her friends all turned and whispered something to her. Anyone could see she was hating this unwelcome attention, especially in front of teenage boys.


This time my gut was on fire.


It brought me right back to when I was 13 years old and waiting for my mom in the lobby of the bank.  A 30ish man walked up, stopped next to me, told me that I was pretty, and asked me out for a coffee.


I felt fear, out of my depth, and immediately worried that I had done something to attract this uncomfortable, dangerous-feeling attention.


I said “No!” giggled, and looked down with flushed cheeks at my long-sleeved flannel shirt and knee-length cut-offs as I walked towards my mom, wondering, why did he ask me?


My mom didn’t see it happen, and I didn’t tell her. I felt ashamed, somehow.


About a year later my 22 year-old brother got into a fist fight with a 20ish guy who came up to us, asked how I was doing and chucked me under the chin telling me I “looked fine.”


Male attention felt dangerous and troublesome. The “male gaze” isn’t just locker room talk and cat calling. It’s much more damaging than that.


Even though I hadn’t “done anything” I felt like I had done something wrong by getting attention and proceeded to wear bulky, long sweatshirts for most of my teen years. The last thing I wanted was more attention.


This kind of unwelcome attention feels like theft. It steals our ability to feel like we own our bodies. Even when no physical damage is done, these kind of comments damage the free expression of our beauty and full expression of ourselves.


How can we talk to girls about their bodies and the male gaze?


This question, and my anger at myself for not telling that male speaker to be more aware of how he made this young woman feel, has been roiling around in my body and brain for months now.


When it comes down to it, we live in a culture where many men feel like they have the right to comment on, touch without permission, and abuse women of every age.


I’ve asked friends and readers, and posted the query on Facebook and Instagram.


The first thing I’ve realized is we shouldn’t talk TO girls and women about their bodies. We should be talking more WITH them. Sharing. Educating about basic biology, not handing down judgments and approval willy-nilly.


Here are some of the comments and insights women have shared with me via social media:


Terricole: As a therapist I like the idea of figuring out guidelines as opposed to the ALWAYS or NEVER school of thought since we are all just flawed humans trying to do better. When it comes to weight gain or loss I def say no comment is the way to go. My 22-year-old niece just lost quite a bit of weight and her mother (my sister who is and has always been weight obsessed although she is very fit) kept commenting on how great she looked until my niece lost it and said,”Stop looking at my body with that critical eye. Your compliments make me feel exactly as bad as your not so subtle suggestions of how to lose weight when I didn’t ask you. STOP OBJECTIFYING ME MOM PLEASE! ” And when you think about it the flip side of the complement is a criticism and all of it is judgement. I grew up with 3 beautiful older sisters and my mother rarely commented on our looks at all. So although my weight fluctuated no one commented on it Consequently I felt loved the same pretty much all of the time. With my many nieces I would focus on gratitude for their strong healthy bods because not everyone can run, walk or hike etc. Also focusing on positive behavior(that was so kind of you to …) and good intentions is empowering and shows them what you think is important. Modeling a positive relationship to your own body & figuring out your own stuff from your family of origin will help you not hand down toxic stuff. This is really the greatest gift you can give to all of your kids (and yourself too!) ❤️

grace.freshfoodkcI:  I love conversations about bodies that wrap up the whole person. Talk about how their body shape, size, etc. reflects their life and passions. I love how your freckles show in summer-it makes me think of all of our fun park dates or I love how your strong legs could hike up this trail. If women grew up appreciating their body’s ability and strength, we’d have a lot less stress about the rest.

Heartenhealthy As a mom of 2 daughters I think about this A LOT. My 4 year old will ask when she gets dressed up for something or I’ve just finished doing her hair if she looks beautiful and I tell her that she looks beautiful all the time. I want her to understand that she is just as beautiful when she first wakes up in the morning as she is when she is dressed up or does something to change her appearance. I make sure we focus a lot on talking about what her body is capable of and the importance of who we are inside. We talk a lot about what it means to be unique and I tell her that it means everyone is special in their own different way. I feel like we are fighting an uphill battle with the current standard of beauty that we see in mainstream media. Thanks @deliciousalex for posting this question. Conversations like this are important in order to determine what we can do differently to raise our daughters to be confident and to reject the notion that appearance matters most.

Karenmeiercoach Completely agree with @terricole 👌 – modeling a positive relationship with your body is key. I also think it’s important to discuss the importance and beauty of body diversity – that bodies come in all shapes and sizes! 🙏


In short, there are a lot of opinions about how we should talk to and with our girls about their bodies. And that’s just the women.


To me, one thing is very clear:


By commenting (repeatedly) on a woman’s appearance, we risk making her feel more self-conscious, more uncomfortable, and less seen for her whole self.

We make a woman’s worth all about how she looks and her body becomes a commodity. Something to be owned or used.

She becomes a thing, rather than a person.


The anger I felt at that older man commenting on the young woman’s looks boils down to this – he wasn’t engaging with her as a whole person, he was, in a few words, patronizingly giving his approval of her, and drawing a lot of uncomfortable attention to her, by reinforcing a patriarchal (Yes, I said it) norm that pretty women are more worthy and deserving of special treatment.


Like my 13 year-old self, many teenaged girls don’t appreciate too much attention. Attention and the male gaze are rife with danger for all women:


  1. We are taught to crave attention and approval of our appearance, and yet
  2. If we cross some invisible and ever-moving line of seeking too much attention, we risk being labeled a slut, high and mighty, or worse.


Attention feels like a dangerous, can’t-win proposition for women, and it begins with these seemingly innocuous comments.


I wish I could go back and pull that man aside, tell him the truth – his comments were more damaging than anything – and ask him to refrain from making approving statements about women’s appearance in the future.


I would ask him instead to acknowledge women for their hard work, for their accomplishments, for their strength and resilience.


The conversation about women’s bodies must change. And we have to start changing it amongst ourselves.


Stop buying and investing in the appearance-based celebrity gossip culture that Jennifer Aniston so eloquently spoke out against. Tell young women how strong they are and how their hard work is noticed and appreciated. Have meaningful conversations with them about what they see on television and in magazines, and even on Instagram. Find out how it makes them feel to see models and movie stars be appreciated only for their looks.


Once we allow women to be fully seen, we may finally create a culture of true beauty, one that’s safe for every woman to shine in all of her strength.


How can we talk with girls and women about our bodies?


First, we should be talking more with each other about our bodies.

Not commenting on each other’s bodies, but sharing our experiences and feelings about growing up female.


We should talk about celebrity culture and the impact that social media has on our body image and connectedness.


Recently Playboy Playmate Dani Mathers was at her gym when she used Snapchat to broadcast a picture of a middle-aged woman using the shower in the locker room. Mathers captioned her Snap, “If I can’t unsee this then you can’t either.”


Not only was the model and radio host making fun of another woman’s body, she was illegally posting a nude photo of a woman without her permission in a body-shaming way. Mathers’ gym, L.A. Fitness, immediately banned her from ever using any of their outlets again, she was fired from her radio job, and is now under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department.


This is a case of woman-on-woman body shaming gone very wrong, but it happens all the time in more subtle ways. Last year, blogger and runner Kathy Sebright shared a story of how two women commented that she had “put on a lot of weight” at a July 4th parade when they thought she couldn’t hear them. Her invisible story of struggling to help her young son and family manage a horrible illness were not visible to the women; they didn’t see her whole story, only her current shape and weight.


Just as the speaker felt it appropriate to comment on the young woman’s beauty, bringing her attention she clearly didn’t want, the female model felt it appropriate to negatively comment about the woman’s body at the gym, bringing her attention she clearly didn’t ask for.


How can we end this cycle of shaming and hurting? Is banning and firing the answer? I felt the anger and understood the immediate reaction to ban and fire Dani Mathers after her shameful and illegal Snapchat fiasco.


But, is this really going to solve the problem?


I believe we need to talk with boys and girls, men and women about what happens when we comment on each other’s appearance. We need to share our experiences with each other and with our children so that they feel entitled to respect their own bodies, and so they respect other people’s bodies just the same.


What if instead of firing Dani Mathers, her radio station had assigned her to both record a conversation with the woman she photographed and to interview a new woman every week for the next year about a personal body-shaming incident and how it affected the woman?


How can we include men in this evolution?


And what about men?


As the mom of a 9 year-old boy, I’ve worried and struggled with what to say and how to raise him so that he’s a “good man” that respects and stands up for women as well as himself.


We look at the progressive sex education books together, learning about anatomy and the differences between men and women, so that he has real knowledge. We call our body parts by their names: penis, vagina, breasts, and vulva, rather than “down there, willy, or nana’s” so that we aren’t making jokes about the human body rather than being factual and easy about it all.


We teach him that his body is his own, and no one may touch him without his permission. The same goes with friends and family: every person is in charge of their own body. You respect theirs, and demand that they respect yours.


We don’t force him or even ask him to hug family if he doesn’t want to. Why force kids to do something physically that they don’t want to do?


I’ve told him it’s nice to comment positively on someone’s clothing, but not on their body. Not because you don’t like how they look, but because people are very sensitive about their bodies and we want people to feel happy in themselves.


We’ve come up with “safe words” so that when any kind of physical play becomes too much for him, he can shout “RED!” and we know it’s time to immediately stop tickling or wrestling.


By teaching young men to respect their own bodies, as well as everyone else’s, we can raise the new generations not to fall into the same shameful traps.


What should I have said to that 60 year old man?


I wish I had pulled him aside, out of view of the students, and told him how his comments actually affected this young woman. I would ask him to not draw attention to young women’s appearance, but instead to comment on their strength and intelligence. And I would beg him NOT to go talk with her about it, even to apologize, because, knowing women’s inclination to shoulder all blame, she would probably end up apologizing to him in the end.


But I didn’t. I may always regret that.


Instead, I took the stage and taught the group about the wisdom of their bodies. I taught them a practice I wish I had learned at a much younger age, but one that any of us can learn to our advantage:


I told them how to feel “YES” and “NO” from their own bodies, and I want to teach you how to do this now too:


Sit with your eyes closed and place a hand on your heart and one hand on your belly. Take 5 deep, slow, relaxing breaths.


Feel and say YES out loud. YES. YES, I want this. YES, this is for me! YES, I know this! YES! YES YES!


How did that feel in your body?


Now take 5 more deep, slow, relaxing breaths to settle down again.


Feel and say NO out loud. NO. NO, I don’t want this. NO, this is not for me. NO, I don’t like that. NO NO NO!


How did that feel in your body?


I asked how many in the audience could feel a difference between YES and NO in their bodies, and more than half the room raised their hands.


This practice, I told them, could be used for choices, small and large, throughout their life. What to eat, what to wear, where to go to college, who to date, how they’re being treated…


I shared that, especially for the young women in the room, they were going to need to learn how to tap into this truth in their bodies. Their truth and desires will be squashed again and again by unconscious or uncaring forces in the world.


We all need, men and women alike, to practice feeling what our bodies are telling us,  honor and respect ourselves, gather support around us, and continue to speak up for our truth.


I don’t have all the answers.


But I’m a woman with a fiery interest in helping create a world where every young woman feels like she owns her own body, grows up not fearing her own beauty (and honey, we all glow with a divine inner beauty!), and where all women feel free of shame so they can shine their fire freely.


Maybe the best we can do now is share and grow this discussion, talk with each other about how we feel, and share our experiences.

The Courageous Self-Care Manifesto

From the Latin “manifestus” – to manifest, to make public, to clearly reveal, to make real.


Hold onto your adult coloring books: we have self-care wrong.


Women’s magazines and self-help books tell us to focus on the tiny things, to consume more goods, and what amounts to the 101 of self-care. When what we want, and crave, is bigger, bolder– a matter of life and death. I’m talking about the graduate school level of self-care.


Here’s the truth about self-care:

The tiny, daily acts of comfort are necessary, but they don’t take us far enough.

Salt baths and mani-pedis are all well and good, but they’re distracting us from the real work and true care we deserve:


Self-care lives in bold actions taken bravely.

Yes, we need massages, afternoons with girlfriends at the cafe, movie nights, and yoga classes.


But these are the bare minimum. They’re like breathing: if we don’t take these regular breaks, give ourselves these frequent gifts, we start to shrivel up, get bitter, and lose our vitality.


And the truth?

We don’t even give ourselves enough of these small acts of self-care. We feel selfish, guilty, or even ashamed of these tiny acts when in reality the nourishment they provide us allows us to serve others and share our gifts with the world more powerfully.


Until we make the big choices, finally speak our truth, say the thing we’ve been choking on for too long, or give ourselves permission, all the cups of herbal tea under a cozy blanket won’t move the needle in our lives’ unfolding earthquake.


Courageous self-care is bold action taken for our soul’s good.

Courageous self-care is masculine drive for the betterment of our entire lives, informed by our feminine healing.

Courageous self-care is stepping fully into our lives, stating our needs, and asking for help to achieve it.


I believe we have self-care backwards.

I believe self-care is a deeply personal act, fueling each woman’s strength and health.

I believe true self-care is the courageous expression of each woman’s life purpose.

I believe a million acts of courageous self-care can change the world by changing women’s lives. Because women who feel deserving of fun and nourishment are like a shockwave of healing energy.


I dare to believe that women everywhere deserve to feel ownership and love of their own bodies, pride in their minds, and belief in their strengths. We must redefine what self-care really looks like.


Redefine what courageous self-care is in your life:

  • Negotiating, not just asking, for a raise
  • Starting the business or side-hustle that you’ve dreamed of
  • Leaving a relationship
  • Taking a lunch break every day, regardless of how many emails beg for your attention
  • Dating again
  • Quitting your toxic job
  • Playing because you love your body, not working out at the gym because you hate it
  • Redoing your closet
  • Coloring books and beautiful pencils after dinner instead of a bottle of wine
  • Throwing away the skinny jeans that are taunting you
  • Buying that investment coat for fall you’ve been drooling over
  • Savoring that piece of chocolate as if it were your last bite on earth
  • Cutting out sugar (even though your family keeps bringing it to your house)
  • Forgiving someone
  • Forgiving yourself
  • A solo vacation without the kids for deep soul fulfillment and true quiet
  • Masturbation and sex on a regular basis
  • Wearing clothing that fits and feels great every day, just because
  • Traveling to Costa Rica for the yoga retreat
  • Going back to grad school and finishing your M.F.A.
  • Finally having the conversation (you know the one)


The salt baths and journaling exercises can help us a bit, but all the spa dates and pedicures in the world won’t end the toxic relationship with your mother or get you that promotion you deserve.


Jill, one of my private clients, began taking big, bold steps in her life to truly care for her soul’s cravings. Through our work, she had the tough conversations, spoke up for her needs, and asked for the support she desired. The results were beautiful:


“I want to put out there that when I slow down, do the real self-care, let it go, and listen to myself, motivation and magic appear! I feel good. I walked 3 miles and my muscles don’t even hurt. I’m getting ready to have a few girlfriends over and I’m looking forward to it. I ate nice, healthy food, that was delicious. I’m creating a really nice pattern for myself.”


The self-care menus are valuable, non-negotiable maintenance we need, but they are not the lasting, profound change that we seek.


I want to live in a world where women feel righteous about asking for what they need and want, because when women are fulfilled and feel bountiful, our entire community benefits.

I want to live in a world where women don’t apologize for speaking their minds or taking a lunch break.

I want to live in a world where women pride themself on one daily act of courageous self-care.

I want to live in a world where women have the fuel, fire, and strength to love themselves fiercely so that they can be powerful agents of change.

I invite you to join me in creating this world where women step into daily acts of courageous self-care.

Apply now for a private coaching conversation with Alex:

The New Self-Esteem, or How Self-Compassion Is The Best Way To Love Yourself

Watching The Karate Kid (the original one, from 1984, of course) the other night, I saw an important psychological mindset come to life through a favorite Hollywood character:

How Karate Kid Taught Me Self-Compassion

The lead character, Ralph Macchio’s Daniel LaRusso, meets a great mentor in the form of the Japanese handyman, Mr. Miyagi. The older man takes Daniel under his wing to teach him how to protect himself from his high-school nemesis, the perfect blonde karate star, Johnny. Mr. Miyagi’s compassionate stance towards self-improvement shone in stark contrast to the punishing training style of Sensei John Kreese from Cobra Kai,  Johnny’s competing dojo.


Where Mr. Miyagi coached Ralph Macchio’s character Daniel LaRusso to fight with his brain and heart, evil Sensei Kreese shouted to his militant students:


“Mercy is for the weak…you’re nothing! You lost, you’re a loser!”

“The enemy deserves no mercy.”


Every woman I know, including myself, has had countless conversations with herself like this in the mirror. In our efforts to feel good about ourselves and look our best, we have taken the Cobra Kai path of toughening ourselves up to try and achieve higher self-esteem.


The Cobra Kai students were popular, boastful, and seemingly brimming with self-esteem. They grew their strength and self-regard through fighting. A winner to them was tough, invulnerable, even violent. And yet, in the long run, Daniel-san beat them with the more compassionate tactics taught to him by Miyagi.


Turning the Cobra Kai path on ourselves

Women are especially adept at this type of punishing mindset – except it takes the form of self-flagellation: our perfectionism leads us to overwhelm, overwork, and overload more often than men, and it’s slowly killing us, dimming our spark, and leading to lives filled with disappointment and shame.


This outdated tactic of trying to boost self-esteem through force and violent self-punishment has created generations of women who are trying to beat ourselves into a happy relationship with our bodies, despite overwhelming evidence that these tactics don’t work.


In this study from Purdue, weight loss did not help raise long-term self-esteem, which may point to long-term body image issues for women who defined themselves as overweight.


The all-too-common advice to use positive affirmations can backfire for someone already stuck in the low self-esteem zone: this study from the University of Waterloo showed that the common self-esteem tactic actually made some subjects feel worse about themselves because their brains just didn’t believe statements like: “People like me and I’m smart.”  


Feeling better about our lives has to start with how we feel about ourselves. And the path to falling in love with ourselves never begins with self-torture.


Up until recently, we have believed that self-esteem is the goal and the means to get there – what we want to feel and how we try to go about feeling successful.


Self-Esteem: The Cobra Kai way

However, self-esteem, or confidence in one’s own abilities, is the wrong measurement:


We have to compare ourselves to others or measure ourselves by how others view us in order to achieve high self esteem. Self-esteem is based on feeling better than others. Measuring yourself by the norm and coming out ahead in the math.


Comparison has a dark underbelly: we don’t actually feel better about ourselves when we compare ourselves to others because it inherently separates us from the other person as we judge them. Humans like to feel connected to each other, so separating, even to come out “better” than someone else, feels bad.


While we try to see ourselves as better than others, we also tend to turn that lens on ourselves and eviscerate ourselves with self-criticism when we don’t meet our own high standards.


As soon as our feelings of superiority slip — as they always do — our self-worthiness takes a nosedive. We swing wildly between high and low self-esteem — an emotional roller coaster ride whose end result is often insecurity, anxiety, and depression.


(This is why I prescribe to all of my self-worth seeking clients to stop watching reality TV, the black hole for comparison and judgment, for at least 2 weeks. “Watch a documentary instead and call me in the morning.”)


The ways in which we go about achieving self-esteem revolve around comparison, competition, and one-upmanship. (or one-up-woman-ship)


The other main problem with self-esteem is that when you need it, you don’t have it. Just when you need to feel better about yourself because things are going badly, self-esteem deserts you because you aren’t successful and you don’t measure up.


Then you’re stuck with the reality that you’re below average or not doing as well as others, which is when self-esteem vanishes.


Pretty wicked circle, isn’t it?


Compassion: The Mr. Miyagi Way to Self-Love


“No such thing as bad student, only bad teacher” – Mr. Miyagi


The way to feel good about ourselves is actually much more simple, and perhaps not easy:



Self-compassion is the ultimate, healthy, free way to feel better.

When you love yourself, you just love yourself.


When you have self-compassion you treat yourself with the same love and care you would offer to a dear friend.


When you help a toddler learn how to walk and s/he inevitably falls down, do you stand over said child and yell, “Dumb baby! You might as well give up! You’re terrible at walking!”


Of course not! You would kindly offer soothing words, help them back up, and guide them to try again.


We can and must do this for ourselves as we learn the more challenging complexities of negotiating adulthood.


In matters of the heart, purpose, and our ever-changing bodies, self-compassion is truly the best way to enjoy a healthy life.


We think self-compassion is a weak stance, just like Cobra Kai’s Sensei Kreese told us. If we let up on our bodies, aka “the enemy,” we’ll stop driving for achievement. We’ll get lazy.


Nothing could be further from the truth.

New positive psychology science on compassion shows us that self-compassion is like Mr. Miyagi teaching us to “wax on, wax off.” When we practice basic precepts of awareness and compassion, and that self-improvement, like karate “is only for defense,” then we can master our mindset and truly make huge leaps forward.


The science of self-compassion


Students do better when they are primed to be more self-compassionate:

In one study, college students who performed worse than desired on an exam then performed better on the next test if they were primed to be higher rather than lower in self-compassion. This may show that students low in self-compassion beat themselves, felt more stressed, and remained in a fixed mindset which did not help them improve on the next test.


Students with lower levels of self-compassion tend to procrastinate more:

This study found that people prone to procrastination had lower levels of self-compassion and higher levels of stress.


Aging adults thrive longer and better with more self-compassion:

This study shows that adults with higher self-compassion scores better handle the challenges of getting older. Self-compassionate people had fewer emotional problems, greater life satisfaction, and felt that they were ageing more successfully.


And self-compassion helps people deal with the innate suffering of life, pain, trauma, and loss. Self-compassion is a core ingredient in post-traumatic growth, where people who experience trauma actually thrive and grow. It also allows us to maintain a “growth mindset” which keeps us open to progressing, learning, and asking for help.


Self-compassion is a teachable skill and you can begin growing this skill-set right now.


3 ways to grow self-compassion, the REAL self-esteem


  1. Permission to be Human: Notice when you are not being nice to yourself. When you find yourself beating yourself up, remember that you’re human and all humans make mistakes and fail. The trick is to keep going and love yourself through the failure.
  2. Bring self-kindness to your thoughts as if you were talking to your very best friend. How would you talk to her in the same situation? Imagine you’re talking to her, rather than yourself. Many of us are more likely to feel authentic compassion for a loved one.
  3. Yet: This little 3-letter word is the most useful way to reframe your thoughts in a moment. When you hear your thoughts making negative declarations, just add YET to the end of the sentence, like a positive psychology fortune cookie. This kind of thinking puts you into growth mindset right away…try it!


“I haven’t lost the weight…YET.”

“I don’t know how to cook kale…YET.”

“I don’t have the partner of my dreams…YET.”


Remember: Mr. Miyagi’s great line: “First must stand. Then learn fly. Nature’s rule, Daniel-san. Not mine.”


It’s important to know that self-compassion is not just some mantra-quoting positive thinking trip. Self-compassion is a reality check: get real with yourself about the situation and your responsibility for your mindset. If you truly desire to create lasting change in your life, body, and health, a compassionate, growth mindset is truly important.


And in the end, the self-worth you develop as a result of self-compassion is more authentic and long-lasting than the fleeting, judgmental variety we touch with self-esteem.


Don’t forget: seemingly tiny, ill-prepared Daniel Larusso won in the end. He had a Mr. Miyagi at his side, whispering compassionate lessons along the way. Now you can, too.


Join my 8-week Cravings Cleanse + Mindset Makeover to get these positive psychology tools to work for you and your body goals:

103 Unlatched Breastfeeding with Jennifer Grayson

Jennifer Grayson on #CraveCast

The Cravings Whisperer Podcast with Alexandra Jamieson

Today on the Crave Cast I am interviewing Jennifer Grayson. She is an author of a new book called: Unlatched: The Evolution of Breastfeeding and the Making of Controversy. Breastfeeding is certainly a controversy here in the United States. We have an incredibly large international diverse population but her book and the topic it covers is so interesting. Her book really dives into the history of breastfeeding and the trouble that women in America of having with it and the different topics around it.

Jennifer is an environmental journalist, Huffington Post columnist and her work has appeared in several publications. After having her own children, her lifetime commitment to restore the vanishing connection to the natural world led her to her research for Unlatched. Be sure to stay tuned until the end and share this podcast with anyone you know who is pregnant, wants to become pregnant or is having problems with breastfeeding.

Jennifer Grayson on #CraveCast

Sexualization happens when breastfeeding is not commonly viewed-Jennifer Click To Tweet

You can Subscribe to the podcast on iTunesSoundCloudStitcher or TuneIn


Show Notes:

  • How much controversy is there around breastfeeding?
  • Why are we afraid of boobs?
  • Modern society vs not
  • What are the rates of breastfeeding in America now?
  • What has she learned through the process of writing this book?
  • What can be done to support pro-breastfeeding?
  • Are all hospitals baby friendly?
Death by artificial feeding was a great public health problem in early 20th century US. Click To Tweet

Unlatched: The Evolution of Breastfeeding and the Making of Controversy

Jennifer’s Facebook

Manifesto of the Shameless Woman: SOLD OUT!!

Manifesto Of The Shameless Woman

Let’s manifest ourselves a shame-free life.


A public declaration of intentions.

A document that says “this is what I believe.”


This manifesto is for us.

All of us women who see the culture as unhealthy, yet feel hopeful.

All of us women who pray to feel 100% worthy, yet nag ourselves to death.

All of us women who are ready to stop giving a rat’s ass about other people’s rules.


This is our manifesto:

Manifesto Of The Shameless Woman


I love my body to my own benefit.

All desires are inherently good + divine.

I assume the permission.

I give myself the green light.

My cravings are my soul’s to do list.

What I DO want is more powerful than what I DON’T.

I feed my body real food. I feed my life real moments.

I declare my body/fridge/life a shame-free zone.

My body is a miracle built to heal + enjoy pleasure.



For a limited time, buy one of 40 signed copies of the

Manifesto of the Shameless Woman,

designed by Olga Pontes and me, Alexandra Jamieson.


On sale now for only $20.

Simply click here to pay and give us your mailing address:

SOLD OUT AS OF 9/1/16 


I can’t wait to send this to you.




Why I sold my Oscar dress…

Why I Sold My Oscar Dress

“You’ve got to get rid of it. It’s a miracle you even remarried.”

My friend Hope, a brilliant life-coach and stylist, was helping me cleanse my closet of every piece of clothing which no longer served me and the life I crave.

Once we were done, and more than ½ the items I’d had hanging in the closet were in bags to be donated, Hope asked…

“So is that it? Anything else?”

With a big sigh, I crouched down, slid out a huge Chanel box, and lifted up the heavy, full-length beaded gown.

“Wow! What’s that!?” Hope exclaimed.

It was my Oscar dress.

oscar dress 1
Back in 2004, the documentary I co-created and co-starred in, Super Size Me, was nominated for an Academy Award. To get ready for the big event, I appeared on a makeover show called “How Do I Look?” and was given a gorgeous beaded gown. The host, Finola Hughes, co-star of the cult hit and personal favorite Staying Alive, called me “red carpet radiant.” I thought I had hit the big time!

We didn’t win that night, but Morgan and I went on to premiere the film in over 20 countries, got married, had a beautiful little boy together, and then, separated and finally divorced. What a roller coaster ride…and through it all, I kept that dress.

I didn’t keep much from our marriage besides the kid, the memories, my engagement ring (which was stolen in a burglary 5 years ago), and that dress.

As I held the dress up for Hope to see, I realized how heavy it was: physically and emotionally.

“Why are you holding onto this dress, Alex?” asked Hope.

A dozen reasons jumped to mind, but none of them felt good enough:

  • It was a hand-beaded designer dress! I only wore it once and it was worth at least $1000.
  • I should save it for another amazing event some day
  • I should save it for my daughter (BTW, I’ve happily decided not to have more kids)
  • It was a huge moment in my life – how can I give this dress away??
  • It looked amazing on me!

But something deeper was hidden in the folds of the tissue-wrapped silk and beading:

I was holding onto an unexamined belief that

I’ll never make anything that great again…

that the best contribution of my life was behind me…

that this dress is the best I’ll ever be.

Then I decided that these ideas were bullshit and it was time to say goodbye.

I asked my friend Kate Northrup, author of Money: A Love Story, who also teaches Feng Shui for Financial Freedom, what she thought of keeping this dress, under my bed no less?

Kate wrote back:

“Anything that’s no longer a reflection of who you are and who you want to be in the future needs to be released ASAP. This includes old clothes, furniture, and anything else that’s not up to par with your current reality and your desired future.”

Hope and I talked about all of this, sitting on the bed together, touching and admiring the craftsmanship of the dress.

A few weeks ago another group of girlfriends gasped when I told them the dress was still under my bed. “It’s a miracle you even remarried! Talk about bad relationship mojo!” They were right. But I just wasn’t ready.

Now I am.

“It’s time.” I said, finally.

I’d wasted endless, worrying energy thinking about the dress and what to do with it. Ultimately, I’d done nothing, feeling lame for being lazy and indecisive.

It had all gone on too long, and it was time.

Why I Sold Me Oscar Dress

This Monday evening, I walked the heavy Chanel box to a resale shop in SoHo, filled out the consignment form, and walked out. I left the store feeling strange: light, yet a bit sad. A little empty.

I had scheduled a date with a good friend, and we met for a glass of wine to celebrate our lives. She toasted the dress, and we plotted our future triumphs.

The dress was beautiful.

It will be beautiful on another woman.

I hope it brings her incredible good fortune, whoever she is.

The dress itself, truthfully, means nothing. But it held an energy – a broken promise – and regret within its threads.

Moving forward often requires letting go of the things to which we cling. The heavy, the outdated, the old.

An entire identity – beliefs, myths, and unspoken agreements – attached like white cat hairs on black velvet.

That dress was a constant reminder of a younger woman’s dreams. Some became a reality, and some were shattered.

Now it’s time for a more mature woman’s dreams to take flight and come true. A dream dressed in fine new cloth and new energy.

Join me in saying goodbye to the one thing that’s keeping you tied to the past in a way that no longer serves you.

Maybe it’s a dress in your own closet (or under your bed!) Maybe it’s a way of eating, a way of being with people, a town or home you live in, or a job or relationship you’re still in after too many years.

Say goodbye.

Toast your glass high to the dress.

Let it go.

Let’s fly forward together.

Let’s create the life we crave.



Discover the truth about your cravings – join me for the final live Cravings Cleanse, starting September 18th. Get early news of open registration here:

Mocktail Fruit Cubes for Summer Sugar Cravings

All summer long I can be found sipping cool drinks through my favorite glass straws…

But I have to be careful that I don’t slurp up too much sugar or caffeine. My body loves the first 5 minutes of a sugar or caffeine rush, but the rest of the day becomes a foggy blur. My work suffers and I retreat inward, ending up in a ball on the couch, when I could be out roller skating or meeting up with friends.

One simple strategy for my summer sweet cravings is iced fruit cubes.

Mocktail Iced Cubes

Added to any glass of water or iced mint tea, these cubes make every cup feel like a fancy mock-cocktail…you know, a mocktail.

These cubes helped me get through a summer rooftop party when I was taking a break from alcohol last week: just add a cube to a wine glass, sprinkle in sparkling water, and add a glass straw.

Mocktail Fruit Cubes For Summer Sugar Cravings

You’ll feel like a 50’s Hollywood movie star, enjoying bright, fruity flavors, and more importantly:

your body will thank you.

Directions to make these simple iced mocktail fruit cubes:

Gather blueberries, strawberries, chunks of watermelon or pineapple, fresh mint, basil, and other herbs.

Drop each kind of fruit or herb into its own ice cube pocket in an ice cube tray. (I love this oversized cube tray for a more dramatic effect.)

Fill with water and freeze! It’s that easy…

Mocktail Fruit Cubes


Your cravings aren’t good or bad, they’re just information.

You can honor your body, rather than judge her, and give her healthy, delicious food that nourishes your life and your energy.

I hope you’ll keep coming back for more inspiration and recipes.

Share this recipe on Pinterest or with a friend!

Roast Pineapple with Cinnamon

I love sweet, and I love simple recipes. And I love avoiding added sugars without using up my willpower.

Roasted Cinnamon Pineapple

When I go to my favorite lunch spot, Hu Kitchen, in New York City, I always get a side of their roasted cinnamon pineapple to go with my grass fed meatloaf…

The simple, spicy sweetness is so satisfying I can easily walk past the display of chocolate bars and not bat an eye: once my tongue has had it’s fill of this sweet pineapple goodness, my sweet tooth is sated.

If you crave sweet: welcome to the club! Humans are born loving sweet things – in fact, it’s the only food preference we’re born with. Every other taste preference is learned. Sweet foods found in nature are safe to eat, and mother’s milk is sweet, which makes us want to nurse more and thrive.

So you can leave the shame about sweet cravings behind!

When you want something sweet, something that won’t hurt your body or destroy your healthy eating desires, roasted pineapple is a great choice.


2 cups cubed pineapple

1-2 teaspoons cinnamon



  1. preheat oven to 450.
  2. Toss pineapple with cinnamon and spread out on a lined baking sheet.
  3. Roast for 12-15 minutes, until pineapple begins to brown.
  4. Eat! Enjoy, share!

Benefits of Pineapple:

High in the anti-inflammatory enzyme bromelain, which aids digestion of starches and proteins. Protects against foreign microbes, diseased cells and intestinal parasites. High in manganese, essential component of digestive enzymes.

Now, toss that pineapple with some cinnamon? You’ve got a powerhouse treat:

Benefits of Cinnamon:

Warming, supportive of lungs, kidney, heart, and uterus. Helps reduce intestinal gas and improves digestion. The aroma is calming…but Cinnabon knows that already.



Your cravings aren’t good or bad, they’re just information.

You can honor your body, rather than judge her, and give her healthy, delicious food that nourishes your life and your energy.

I hope you’ll keep coming back for more inspiration and recipes.

Share this recipe on Pinterest or with a friend!



4 Genius Ways To Perfect Portions with Positive Psychology

Welcome to my big breakfast table…

Sit down and place your clean cloth napkin on your lap.

Smell the fresh food cooking, hear the bright classic rock drifting through the house…


My son will light a candle for us…

Yes, even at breakfast.

See the farmer’s market flowers from our walk Saturday…


Here’s your tea or water. Take a deep breath.

Smell the food, prepared with love.


Savor the moment.


Hidden in this simple morning ritual are powerful positive psychology tools to eating perfect portions:


Many of our food choices aren’t really conscious choices.

Hidden and unconscious factors that effect your brain have a big impact on what, and how much, we eat:

  • Stress.
  • Bad planning.
  • Optical illusions…

What? Optical illusions? I’ll get to that in a moment…

Most of us make about 200 food choices a day, and it’s not just what to have for breakfast:

Should I reward myself with a cookie for going to the gym?

Do I want an apple or blueberries?

Should I put mayo on that, or olive oil?

All those 200+ choices drain your brain of willpower, which is a finite resource.


Once you run out of your daily allowance of willpower, likely in the afternoon or evening, you’re more likely to eat more of the things that don’t help you with your energy and well-being.

You could use willpower to fight your old ways of eating, but that doesn’t really work. (Right? We’ve all tried it 1,000 times)


Luckily the worlds of Positive Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience are helping us to trick our brains and bodies into eating better foods, and better portions.

Use these 4 science based strategies to make healthy eating easy:

  1. Use Optical Illusions to Help You Eat Less: Sitting at a larger table (as opposed to your desk or a small table) performs some optical illusion magic to help you naturally eat smaller portions. [Cornell University Food & Brand Lab]
  2. Relax Before You Eat: STOP Working Through Lunch: Stressed out people make worse food choices. Do a round of deep breathing to help calm your body and brain (my favorite is below) [Harvard Study]
  3. Get Happy: People who practice gratitude before meals make better choices and tend to eat less. [University of Texas Study]
  4. Pre-Game Your Lunch: Making a lunch the night before helps you make better choices as you won’t be rushed. []


Here are 5 ways to integrate these science-based eating strategies into your life so that you make better choices and naturally eat the right amount for your body:

  • Eat at a table, not your desk.
  • Eat at a table, not a TV tray binge watching Orange Is The New Black.
  • Do a round of deep breathing (4-7-8 breathing is my favorite – here’s a quick video I use with my son to teach him) before you eat, or even before you choose what to eat.
  • Write down, think about, or tell your lunch friend 3 things that you’re grateful for this week before you eat. Then have them share! (For super gold star bonus effect: make sure you include how you had a part in that thing happening)
  • Make your lunch the night before, packed and ready to go in the morning.

It’s not just what we eat, it’s how we eat.

I hope you’ll enjoy these simple, science-based tricks to easily make healthy eating more joyful.



Try just one of these strategies for the next week and share how it work for you!
Get monthly LIVE coaching and email support from Alex to master your food mindset! Join the new Mindset Mastery Membership here:

Ginger Carrot Soup: All Day Energy Diet Cookbook Offer

I want you to get this new cookbook! (It’s only available FREE until midnight Friday, June 17th, 2016 – you just cover shipping of about $10)

It’s filled with 67 recipes that are especially created for those of us who desperately need more energy – and easy, yummy food choices.


Here’s my featured Ginger Carrot Soup recipe:


1 cup diced yellow onion

1 clove garlic, minced

4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock

1 1/2 pounds carrots, chopped

2 tsp freshly grated ginger root

1 tbsp fresh cilantro leave, optional garnish


  1. Saute the onion and garlic in 1/4 cup of the stock over medium heat until the onions are translucent. Add the carrots and ginger. Cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the rest of the stock and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Pour the mixture into a blender and puree, being careful to cover tightly with a lid and a clean kitchen towel to prevent hot liquid from leaking out. Return to pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Garnish with optional cilantro and enjoy!
I know life is busy…
Your inbox is probably inundated with emails…
And you were probably buried with to-do’s.
Yet, if you want to make sure you’ve got the newest and tastiest gourmet-like
meals that help you look and feel awesome – without needing to be a professional
chef to make them…
Then check this out now to get the All Day Energy Diet Cookbook – it’s no cost to you until Midnight ET tonight, June 17th!
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