Saturday, January 30, 2010

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

Broadcast network CBS has revised its long-standing policy resisting broadcasting advocacy ads and has accepted $2.5 million from the conservative political group Focus on the Family to air an ad featuring collegiate football star quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam. The ad will air during the ad-rich Super Bowl on Feb. 7. Pam Tebow is expected to explain how she rejected medical advice to terminate her pregnancy after contracting a serious illness, with the result that she had a healthy child who is now a famous athlete. Many women's groups, including the National Organization for Women ( and the Women's Media Center (, have criticized CBS for not announcing the change in policy until confronted about the Tebow/Focus on the Family antiabortion message. An intelligent, reasoned take on the controversy will appear in the Jan. 31Washington Post, and certainly elsewhere, authored by Frances Kissling, former president of Catholics for Choice, and Kate Michelman, former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. Read it here:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Anne Frank's Diary: Not Chick Lit, These Readers Say

Some Washington Post readers have taken reporter Monica Hesse to task for writing about The Diary of Anne Frank as if it resonated primarily with young girls. Hesse's article appeared after the recent death of Miep Gies, the last living protector of the Frank family during their years hiding in an Amsterdam attic in a desperate attempt to avoid capture by the Nazis during World War II. While Anne Frank's story undoubtedly riveted readers who read it as girls and young teens, "for [Hesse] to assume that this feeling is peculiar to women diminishes the profound power of both of these lost lives," wrote Charles Tennes in a letter to the Post published January 16. "It is also obnoxiously sexist," he added.

In a letter published the same day, Edward Hayes Jr. said, "I discovered [Anne Frank] when I was a young black boy growing up in Northeast Washington.... Through its examples of neighborly love, determination for survival and heroism... it inspired a young boy not to take life for granted. The story of Anne Frank is indeed for girls, boys and adults."

Hesse quoted only females in her piece about the diary's power and influence ("Legions of women lose their last link to Anne Frank," January 13). Her point, I think, was to show how girls who were near Anne's age when they read the book were changed and shaped by her account of her ordeal. That's certainly a legitimate angle to take as the last link to the Frank family, also a courageous female, leaves the scene. Still, I have to agree with the Post readers who objected to the narrower focus of Hesse's piece. Anne Frank's diary has crossed generations, cultures, languages and sexes -- 25 million copies in 54 languages. Really, shouldn't that have been the headline?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Vogue Cover Model: Healthy or Chunky at Size 4?

Hello, again -- I'm back to the blog after an absence of several weeks, during which I moved home and office. During that time, a news item caught my eye, noting that Vogue magazine was featuring a larger-sized model on its cover, Lara Stone, who is all of a Size 4! After years of cover models who have been Size Zeros -- yes, that's Size Zero -- this is considered to be some kind of a breakthrough, incredibly. You can read about Stone's and other models' sometimes self-destructive struggles to remain model-thin at

In a statement on the blog, Vogue editor Anna Wintour expressed hope that the fashion industry, which insists on waif-thin body types, "will rethink its current preferences." Wintour, a powerful influence herself, could help that process along by featuring more realistic images more often. Size 4 is a long way from the size of the average American woman: 14.