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May 09
Her eye on the news
Keeping it real

In case you needed a friendly reminder that women’s pregnancy bellies do not magically disappear overnight, Meghan Markle made her first post-birth appearance today sporting a belted dress that revealed a visible baby bump.

Markle and Prince Harry, who are also known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, appeared before the press on Wednesday to introduce their newborn son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, to the world. Many women subsequently expressed their gratitude to Markle for not trying to hide her postpartum baby bump, as Buzzfeed reports. “The bump doesn’t disappear as soon as the baby pops out & I love that she’s embracing it,” one Twitter user wrote.

Fans had similar praise for Kate Middleton after she gave birth to Prince George in 2013. Before she had even left the hospital, a tabloid had published a cover story about how Middleton intended to lose the baby weight—so when she appeared for a photo-op with a visible bump, people were quick to hail her as “brave.”

Many women, in fact, would find it practically impossible to conceal their bellies in the days after giving birth. After being stretched out over the course of nine months, the uterus, abdominal muscles and skin can take time to return to their pre-pregnancy shape, explains Women’s Health. In fact, the Office on Women’s Health cautions new mothers not to “expect or try to lose additional pregnancy weight right away. Gradual weight loss over several months is the safest way, especially if you are breastfeeding.”

And yet, in light of our tendency to lionize mothers for their “post-baby body snapbacks,” women like Markle and Middleton offer important reminders that it is perfectly normal for women’s bodies to retain a pregnancy bump after birth.

Read more at Buzzfeed and Women’s Health.

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NXIVM

A former “slave” with alleged New York sex cult NXIVM testified against the group’s leader, Keith Raniere, before a U.S. district court in Brooklyn on Wednesday. Sylvie, a 32-year-old British woman, said that Raniere, 58, forced her into sex acts and took pictures of her naked after declaring that he was her “grand master.”

“We were taught that women were self-absorbed, narcissistic,” she told the jury. “I feel like in some ways that was the worst part of it for me.”

During her time with NXIVM, Sylvie testified, she joined a secret sorority known as DOS, where she was branded with Raniere’s initials and required to serve as a “slave” to a woman named Monica. As part of the ceremony, she was made to vow to serve her “master” for the rest of her life, and to wear a necklace described as a “dog collar.”

Raniere, prosecutors said, manipulated female members of the cult for “sex, power and control” by repeatedly emphasizing that he was “the smartest, most ethical person in the world” before using “shame and humiliation to break people down.” Among his alleged victims were three Mexican sisters who Raniere had offered to tutor but instead held captive and forced into sexual relationships. The youngest of the sisters, Camilla, was just 15 when Raniere allegedly had sex with her and took pictures of her body as “souvenirs.”

“The photographs didn’t just serve his sexual needs, he used them to blackmail,” said assistant U.S. attorney Tanya Hajjar, adding that they had recovered pictures of Camilla from Raniere’s computer.

Raniere stands charged with sex trafficking, racketeering, sexual abuse of a minor and extortion, among other crimes. If found guilty on all charges, he could face a possible sentence of life in prison.

For more background on the New York trial, watch the CBC News video below:

Read the full story at Yahoo News and The Guardian.

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Congrats!

When Jessica Anderson finished the London Marathon in 3 hours, 8 minutes and 22 seconds this past April, she beat a very specific record for the fastest woman to run the marathon while dressed as a nurse. But she was told that her accomplishment was void because her blue scrubs did not comply with the uniform criteria — which, according to Guinness World Record Rules, had to include a blue or white dress, an apron and a cap.

The incident sparked accusations of sexism and prompted nurses to take to Twitter to share photos of their real-life work get-ups. And now, as the New York Times reports, Guinness has announced that it has reversed its decision and will acknowledge Anderson’s record.

“[I]t has become quite clear to Guinness World Records that our guidelines for the fastest marathon wearing a nurse’s uniform were outdated, incorrect and reflected a stereotype we do not in any way wish to perpetuate,” Samantha Fay, the organization’s senior vice president, said in a statement. “[W]e unreservedly apologise and accept full responsibility for the mishandling of Jessica Anderson’s application.”

Fay added that the nurse’s uniform category was created along with several other titles “to match the already large appetite for running the marathon in fancy dress.” But in light of the recent incident, Guinness has decided to “no longer allow fancy dress clothing for this category and will introduce guidelines which reflect the clothes worn by nurses in the U.K. and around the world.”

Anderson works at the Royal London Hospital, and she ran the marathon to raise money for Barts Charity, which supports staff and researchers at several London hospitals. She hoped to raise £500 (around $650) for the organization; she has now accrued more than £5,000 in donations.

Writing on Instagram, Anderson said she was “delighted” by Guinness’ decision to review its criteria for the title. Because she had contacted the organization before running the race, Anderson added, she knew that she would not be considered for the record if she ran in pants. But she decided to wear her scrubs anyways.

“For me the issue went beyond achieving a world record,” Anderson wrote. “While nursing uniforms vary, one thing they have in common is that they are designed for professional women AND men who care for people in all sorts of ways across the world. I would have been doing a disservice to my profession if I had worn a fancy dress costume.”

Read more at the New York Times.

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A 'coming out'

The brilliant gap-toothed smile of punk singer Dani Miller has been chosen to feature in Gucci Beauty’s first ever ad campaign, providing a stark contrast to the conventionally symmetrical smiles normally employed by beauty brands to advertise makeup and lipstick. Speaking to Refinery29, Miller said that she nearly cried with happiness after seeing the iconic shot of the campaign — a close-up of the singer’s smiling mouth, with no editing to hide any of her teeth’s supposed ‘flaws.’

“It was a coming out, a celebration of me being myself. It’s been a process to evolve and feel comfortable in my own skin. Everyone has things to work through, but seeing that really made me stoked. It’s gonna be awesome for people to feel inspired and not feel alone in their insecurities,” said Miller, the lead singer of Brooklyn punk collective Surfbort.

Growing up, she recalled, she had been afraid to even smile due to the constant insults and jokes people made about her teeth.

“I’m like, ‘What the hell? This is me. I was born this way, man!’ I had a fake retainer with teeth in it in high school, and sometimes it would even fall out. I was even like, ‘Oh, I need to not smile because people are going to notice and then I can’t even hold this job.’ I just felt like I wasn’t my full self,” said Miller.

But since those dark days, she added, she had learned to see the beauty in herself — and to not give a damn about the people who tried to make her feel inferior for not looking the way they thought she should. By participating in Gucci Beauty’s ad campaign, she said, she hopes to show that “what people consider flaws or ‘nontraditional beauty’ … [is] really be a beautiful thing.”

“I feel like with smiles and makeup ads, there needs to be a change in not just having the cookie-cutter, no-flaw look,” Miller explained. “That’s awesome for some people — it’s a beautiful look — but it’s really dangerous to force everyone to fit a certain style.”

Watch video from the new ad campaign below.

Read the full story at CNN.

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Newsletter

MAJESTIC MEGHAN
Prince Harry had just ten words yesterday when asked how it felt to be a father: “How any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension.”

Those ten words apply to women everywhere, but the Prince’s decision to use the iconic first interview to put the spotlight firmly back on his wife was historic. From that point on, however, the interview veered more towards the surreal: The New York Times observed that the Prince appeared “so addled with happiness and sleep deprivation he appeared to thank the horses.

Appearing on CBS News this morning to celebrate the birth, Women in the World founder Tina Brown said it was a gift for the British public, to finally have a Royal baby who mirrors the diversity of the population.

PERIOD POWER
Are you cycle syncing yet? Across America, working women have begun to plan their professional lives according to their menstrual cycles, scheduling high-intensity, creative days for the usually more energetic follicular cycle — and quiet, organizing days during menstruation.

Back when the name of the game was mimicking men to get ahead, women often felt compelled to deny that their periods had any effect on their day at all. But this is a new era, one where women have stopped leading like men (to the world’s benefit.)

Two new books, Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement, and Flex: The Modern Woman’s Handbook, may yet prove to be the new 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT
Whenever countries elect their first female leaders, the initial round of #GirlBoss coverage is often so over-zealous it could convince even the most hardened feminist that the sexists are gone for good.

Events in Estonia this week have been a helpful reminder that this is rarely, if ever, the case.

After President Kersti Kaljulaid walked out of the swearing-in ceremony of a minister accused of domestic violence, her own interior minister accused her of being an “emotionally upset woman,” declaring she wasn’t fit to serve in her position.

BACK IN THE RING
Senator Elizabeth Warren has found herself suddenly able to enjoy one of her oldest hobbies: exposing Joe Biden’s hypocrisy.

The former Vice President’s decision to join the 2020 race led to an immediate headline-making statement from Warren, who stated simply: “Joe Biden was on the side of the credit card companies.” The comment was on brand for the Senator, who famously sparred with Biden in a heated debate on bankruptcy in 2005 that has never really ended.

Social media has been firmly #TeamLiz throughout — after Biden revealed he was “too busy” to put forward a healthcare proposal this weekend, 26,000 people liked a tweet pointing out that Warren had found the time, even though “she has a job.”

SHE’S RUNNING
“I am a woman and I am fast.” Caster Semenya is a South African runner whose only offense for the past decade has been dominating the sport. But rather than celebrate a champion, the IAAF (running’s governing body) has ruled that Semenya must take hormone-suppressing drugs to slow herself down.

The ruling — which was upheld in court last week — has not only emboldened conspiracy theorists, it’s also continued a long history of authorities feeling they can police black women’s bodies.

Somehow, Semenya has found the strength to brush off her sport’s continued attempts to stop her competing, saying this week: “For a decade the IAAF has tried to slow me down. They have actually made me stronger.”

THERE’S MORE
For the first time in history, Miss America, Miss Teen USA and Miss USA are all black women.

As revolution comes to her native Sudan, veteran international BBC journalist Zeinab Badawi has penned an incisive essay to explain the situation at home, issuing a single warning: “If the revolution fails the women of Sudan, it has failed the whole country.”

Yet another female candidate has entered the 2020 race! Happily, the fictional Selina Meyer, who Julia Louis-Dreyfus brilliantly portrays on Veep.

The Met Gala set up camp in New York City last night, where rapper Cardi B won the night with a stunning feathered gown “inspired by feminism.” See all the looks here, then watch Anna Wintour’s epic interview with Women in the World founder Tina Brown at the 2019 Women in the World Summit.

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05.09.19

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