Defiant Girl vs Bull

I wanted to post my memorable adventure into downtown Manhattan yesterday afternoon, but wanted to stick with my determination to avoid being political on this blog. But since I’m such a lover of analogies, it just dawned on me how I could work my experience (my visit with the Defiant Girl statue, also known as “Fearless Girl,” facing off with the Charging Bull at Bowling Green) into my blog.  So, here I am posting the experience of the adventure…with a twist.

I took the PATH train to the World Trade Center. This is only the 2nd time I’ve taken the PATH there since 9/11. I used to take the PATH there every day back when I used to work at 7 WTC.  The first time I took the PATH there post-9/11, the Oculus wasn’t even built.  It’s an amazing architectural feat!

I took the subway to Wall Street and walked over to check out the Defiant Girl statue and needless to say there were throng of tourists present on day 2, post debut.  Thank you, State Street (firm that manages $2.5 trillion in assets) for this statue!  I sincerely hope they will make this a permanent fixture rather than taking it away in a week or month!  State Street chose the perfect time–International Women’s Day– to put the Defiant Girl statue there.  And yes, I did take the day off for #ADayWithoutAwoman but I also took today (Thur) and tomorrow off for a long-overdue vacation. The statue was actually, upon further reading about this statue, a joint effort of State Street and the McCann New York advertising agency.  What a clever marketing effort to not just draw attention to the index fund giant’s effort to get more women into executive positions/board roles but also to the anniversary of the launch of an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that tracks companies that have higher levels of gender diversity in their leadership!  The plaque in front of the girl says “SHE makes a difference,” which cleverly not only represents the girl but also the ticker for the ETF.  I was surprised to learn that State Street is has warned the 3500 public companies in which it invests that it will vote their share against them if the directors of these firms do not make tangible progress toward adding women to their boards.

It was wonderful to see so many young children and families taking pictures of/with the statue. The statue of the girl faces the bull with her hands on her hips and a defiant expression on her face.  I overheard parents explaining to their children what the statue represents. This girl is standing in defiance against the bull, a symbol of not just the market (bull vs bear) but of an industry traditionally dominated by men.  And I thought to myself “This.” Raising a future generation of girls who will be fearless when faced with challenges in women’s rights (e.g., employment, reproductive rights, etc.).  I felt a surge of optimism despite what’s going on under the current Presidency (sorry, I had to mention this because it’s relevant to what I’m writing about). Despite the cold wind as the sun set, I stood there for about an hour, just taking in people’s reactions to the statue.  I will not forget this experience.

Here’s one of many pictures I took of the statue, and she happens to be wearing a pussyhat. I also took a picture of the girl facing off with the bull, which was not an easy thing to do given the number of tourists crowded around both statues and in between, but I managed to get this shot when someone yelled out for everyone to clear the area so pictures could be taken.

Photo credit: Ivy Shih Leung at 5:00 pm, March 8, 2017, International Women’s Day

Photo credit: Ivy Shih Leung at 5:30 pm, March 8, 2017, International Women’s Day

Here’s where my analogy comes in.

If you are fighting postpartum depression (PPD), think of yourself as the girl–with that look of defiance on her face and with hands on hips–and the PPD as the bull.  Tell it to back the hell off.  *It* can be the PPD itself, stigma associated with it, voices in your head that cause you to feel ashamed for not enjoying your motherhood due to this illness, and/or doctors who tell you to *buck up* or treat you with poor bedside manner.  YOU CAN DO IT.  There are resources and caring people around you who can help. It is not shameful to ask for help. It is not shameful to be sick. It is not shameful to have to take medication (I did). It is not shameful to be unable to feel the joy you thought you would feel after the birth of your baby. PPD is an illness that needs to be treated the same way diabetes or any other illness needs to be treated.  

Photo credit: Sarah Kimball who actually knit the hat (taken around 6:30 pm, March 8, 2017, International Women’s Day)

I also wanted to mention that my primary reason for visiting Bowling Green wasn’t even to see the statue (plans were made last week re: pussyhat on the bull but the statue wasn’t put up until 2 days ago, March 7th) but to be present for the pussyhatting of the Charging Bull.  Yes, you heard right. My friend, Sarah Kimball, spent the last couple of weeks knitting a hat just for the bull.  And her goal was to put it on the bull on International Women’s Day.  Here’s a pic of the bull. I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw this (or any other picture taken of it last night) somewhere else online or more ideally in a newspaper, like the NY Times. Brava, Sarah Kimball, for your awesome handiwork, a historic moment that I wish had been captured by a news outlet. But the picture is slowing making its way across the Internet, as it’s been shared via Facebook and Twitter. And now with this blog post.

Paving the Way for Emotional Health In Teen Girls

Since its release, the movie “Inside Out” has helped put emotional health on the front burner of discussions and will hopefully make it a lot easier for families to talk about emotions on a regular basis.  This movie was, quite simply, brilliant in going somewhere no other film for children has ever gone (at least none that I’m aware).  Why?  Cuz emotions and mental health are topics that people have historically tiptoed about as if they were walking on eggshells.  It’s time we extracted our heads from out of the hole of ignorance, taboo and stigma.  There ain’t nothin’ about emotions and mental health that should warrant keeping our heads buried like that.  Nothin’ at all……….

I sincerely believe that “Inside Out” can be instrumental in helping children to better understand their emotions and realize that feeling sad is just as critical as feeling happy, it’s NORMAL to feel negative emotions like sadness and anger, and all emotions should be expressed rather than suppressed.  A good way to express/release/process your emotions is to talk about them or even write about them.

I’ve found that many adults have enough challenges in understanding/coping with/expressing/releasing/processing their own emotions, let alone help their children understand/cope/express/release/process theirs.  And thus the critical need for resources from experienced professionals that are abundantly available out there.  You just need to know how to find them.

I have mentioned one invaluable resource for girls in previous posts, and I want to bring it up again today.  It’s Girls Leadership.  Although the focus of my blog is on maternal mental health and mothers were all young girls at one point–all too many of whom have faced issues early in life that pave the way to the adults they are today–the information within the Girls Leadership articles below applies to boys as well.  If you are a parent of a girl, read through the website’s posts on a wide variety of topics, including confidence, identity, body image, books, school, friendships, role models, and conflict.  What a difference it would’ve made to me while growing up if such resources had been available to my mother, if I had had a better relationship with my mother, if I had had a network of support, and if I had had a mentor in my life. Speaking of mentor, “How to Find a Mentor” by Joanne Wilson on July 2, 2015 is a must read! The Girls Leadership posts I ran across in the past couple of weeks are:

  1. Emotional Intelligence Workout: respecting/expressing your feelings critical to development of emotional intelligence (EI)
  2. Removing the Stigma: understanding/talking about /seeking help for mental illness, which applies to 11% of teenagers by the time they hit 18; girls more susceptible than boys
  3. A Powerful New Tool for Girls’ Courage & Confidence: Self-Compassion: practicing mindfulness and self-compassion rather than self-destructive thinking

I want to bring particular attention to the 3rd post because it highlights issues all too many girls face, which are explained in such an on-point fashion in this post the likes of which I have not seen anywhere else to date:

  • tendency to dwell / fixate on their problems rather than realize/following through on solutions
  • tendency to feel more shame / self hatred than boys
  • tendency to feel the need to “fit in” and they are thus more easily influenced by social media, which appeal to girls more than boys.  Social media sites, such as Instagram and Facebook (which I will not allow my daughter to access until she can drive), are just another way to make girls feel more isolated and bad about themselves because these sites, for the most part, only provide glimpses of the positive moments in other people’s lives.  Let me illustrate. My Facebook circle is a rather small one compared to other people’s circles.  Of this circle less than 50% are considered active (i.e., log on, post, like and comment at least a few times a week).  Of my active Facebook friends, only about 5% post things that are truly accurate reflections of what’s going on in their minds and lives….like me.  I say what’s on my mind without sugar coating anything.  Of the remaining 95% or so of the active posters, you’ll see the accomplishments, smiling faces, and all is fine-and-dandy posts / pictures (with a couple people doing it more regularly than others).  It’s these kinds of posts that can influence young girls–ones with the tendency to dwell/fixate on problems, feel bad about themselves, and feel like the one priority in life is fitting in/belonging–into comparing themselves with others and believing that everyone else is living much better and happier lives.  Hence, the “why me, my life sucks” mindsets.  These sites are just as anti-social as they are “social” because rather than encouraging face-to-face interactions, they make you believe that interaction limited to the Internet is all you need to be “social.”

You may wonder how all this has anything to do with postpartum depression (PPD).  It’s important to remember that many cases of depression surface during the teenage years and follow you throughout life.  One of the primary risk factors of PPD is a history of depression. I delve into relevant statistics and risk factors in my book. And you may be interested in checking out my prior posts relating to teenage years.