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Challenge Toxic Girly Thoughts About Women’s Health—One Conversation At A Time

The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.
—Gloria Steinman

Are you aware that most drug studies are conducted on men? This has been true for testing even “routine” medications that are taken by both women and men. The reason always given is that women are more complicated because of … wait for it … their hormones. This makes women’s reaction to any medication more variable than men’s. So rather than invest in a more complex study design, companies have routinely taken the cheap way out and just studied men.

Pharmaceutical companies have gotten away with this, even though women are 51 percent of the population. Why, because women as a group haven’t commanded and demanded the attention every one of us deserves.

Women Go Along to Get Along

You’re tired from working during the day and coming home to your second shift. You struggle to make ends meet with lower pay than men. You feel pressured to magically stay young, beautiful, and appealing to your intimate partner forever. So it’s no wonder you aren’t ready to enter into another fight.

An unfortunate effect of internalizing society’s messages about being the good girl into your personal toxic soup of girly thoughts is this complacency, this belief that it’s better to go along to get along. Yet not speaking up has led to some ridiculous outcomes, including acceptance of nonsensical protocols for drug studies.

Why Are Men Used to Test for Drug Interaction for Addyi?

The drug interaction study for the new libido-enhancing drug just for women, Addyi, was tested in clinical studies on 23 men and only 2 women.


An article titled “Sexism In the Doctor’s Office Starts Here” discusses the common practice of testing pharmaceuticals on a significantly larger percentage of men than women. And this is nothing new: “Women have been excluded or underrepresented in medical and scientific research for as long as those fields have been studied.”

The statistics you’ll read in this article are staggering.

It’s time for women to stop accepting this sexist practice.

Ask Questions—Don’t Listen to Your Toxic Girly Thoughts

You don’t have to be the “good girl” and just accept a drug company’s word that a medication is safe for you. Instead:

When your doctor prescribes a medication, ask:

  • Has this drug been tested on women?
  • What are the specific side effects for women?
  • If you have an investment portfolio (individually or
  • through a group), ask the investment advisor:
  • Are drug companies included, and if they are, are women included in their clinical trials and in what percentage?

Imagine 51 percent of the population—women—asking these simple questions. Yes, change can happen if we all begin to challenge our toxic girly thoughts one conversation at a time.

Remember, you’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my latest book, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power



Toxic Girly Thoughts in the Boudoir: Not a Turn-On

Have you ever read anything on Facebook that caused you to tear up? Yesterday I had that experience when reading “Husband’s Heartwarming Response to Retouched Boudoir Photos of His Wife.”

In her article, Barbara Diamond perfectly captures how our toxic girly thoughts have us doing to ourselves what society does to us:

  • focusing on our physical flaws and
  • feeling less than when we do not see ourselves as measuring up.

Listening to these girly thoughts causes pain and anxiety—not only in us but also in those we love.

Erasing a Life

Diamond describes how a curvy woman, a size 18 in her midforties, decided to invest in boudoir photos that would spice up her love life with her husband. But following her toxic girly thoughts, she wanted them heavily photoshopped. The photographer, Victoria Caroline Haltom, complied by removing her client’s stretch marks, cellulite, wrinkles, and fat, only later realizing what she had done.

The photos were lovely. What was unexpected was the hurt and confused feelings of her client’s husband, who wrote:

When you took away her stretch marks, you took away the documentation of my children. When you took away her wrinkles, you took away over two decades of our laughter, and our worries. When you took away her cellulite, you took away her love of baking and all the goodies we have eaten over the years.

How NOT To Act on Your Toxic Girly Thoughts
When you look in the mirror and see only what you wish wasn’t there, remind yourself, as this husband did, why you have a particular imperfection. Instead of focusing on “negative” attributes, ask yourself:

  • Does your grandmother’s distinctive nose link you to your rich family history?
  • Is your extra skin a result of finally going on that diet to be healthy?
  • Is your grey hair evidence of a long life?
  • Do your luscious breasts bring back memories of breastfeeding your children?

Now rejoice in those memories. These imperfections are what make you uniquely you and not some cookie cutout. And tell those toxic girly thoughts you don’t have time to indulge them, and live your life.

Remember, you’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my latest book, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power

Back to School—Your Daughter, Drugs, and Girly Thoughts

Photo credit: Illumina Singapore Dinner And Dance 2014 – Marriott Hotel-051
Yes, it is back-to-school time.  You and your daughter have worked to get her ready. She has pushed you to buy her the latest fashions so she will fit it; you’ve bought her school supplies and paid for her haircut. Maybe you treated her to getting her nails done … but there is a more concerning part of her fitting in that you need to also take care of.

Last week I received emergency requests from two different acquaintances for the same reason—the issue: their daughters’ drug use.

The first parent was “freaked out” about drug paraphernalia found in her high school daughter’s room. “But she’s a straight-A student, an athlete …” she told me, and she is confused about her daughter’s choice.

The second parent shared that her twenty-something daughter had moved on from the “safety” of marijuana to using heroin, having legal problems, and is now desperately in need of help.

These parents are devoted to their daughters and are now very worried about them.

Many Reasons for Drug Abuse

According to many recent reports, there are many reasons for the increase in drug abuse among girls and women:

  • the perception that their friends are using and they should as well;
  • a need to sooth their developing, toxic girly thoughts—the way they learn to criticize themselves for not achieving societal standards of beauty and behavior;
  • glamorization in media of drug use as a way to increase sexual desirability;
  • widespread availability;
  • difficulty in getting help with not enough treatment options;
  • the lack of understanding by most insurance companies that kids are dying of overdoses and that outpatient services just don’t help many kids.

Drug Use in Real Time

In 2013, 16.0 percent of girls age twelve and older reported binge drinking in the past month, according to NIDA.

Yes, girls age twelve and older. This is not just an adult problem. And it is just one of numerous and disturbing statistics about the increasing numbers of substance-abuse issues among young women.

The parents who called me have every reason to be concerned. Below is a graphic (courtesy of Clarity Way) showing the rates of first-time substance use for alcohol and illicit and prescription drugs on an average day.


What To Do?

If you are worried about a loved one, call for help like my acquaintances did. Several suggestions include:

  • Al-Anon
  • Local alcohol and drug treatment agencies
  • Trained mental health professional
  • Family physician or pastor
  • A friend in recovery

Help and support are there for you. Don’t think you’re alone because you are not.


Remember, you’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my latest book, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power



When Hip Hop, Misogyny, and Girly Thoughts Are Straight Outta Compton



To be a woman who loves hip hop at times is to be in love with your abuser.

—Ava DuVernay

I’m a woman who loves hip hop. I’m pulled in by the energy, the irreverence of some of the lyrics, the sense of being so alive in its beat. And yet, as a woman, I also cringe at some of its messages.

Hip hop is full of misogyny, words that spew anger at women, that marginalize women, that view women more as objects than as humans. But in these ways it is actually much like the rest of our society, only clearer, and with a great beat that makes you want to dance even as you are hurt by what it says. 

The Double Bind for Women

This is the societal double bind for women. We love men who hurt us, and we excuse them. Why? Well, we tell ourselves, because they are men, and that’s how they are. We go forward even if our self-esteem is in tatters.

Ask yourself:

  • How often have you loved someone who hurt you and then excused this because this is just the way men are? 
  • How many times have you forgiven him? 
  • How many times have you forgiven the next him after that?

Are women victims? No, but we are just finding our voice and learning to speak up and challenge the internalized, societally informed notion of women that I have named girly thoughts that say be quiet; good girls don’t make waves, they understand, they love, they forgive.

Speaking Up

This is why I applaud writer Allison Davis, who wrote an essay on The Cut and was interviewed on NPR about the N.W.A biopic Straight Outta of Compton. I urge you to listen to that interview, where she gives voice to her feelings as a woman while also praising the critically important contributions of the film Straight Outta of Compton.


Where You Draw the Line

After hearing Allison Davis, I’m encouraging all of us to say:

Just because what you are saying is important—even revolutionary—doesn’t mean you get a free pass to continue to oppress me.

Would this have made for a more complicated script for the film? Yes. But so what? If this film’s creative group couldn’t get it right, maybe the next one will.

View Without Your Toxic Girly Thoughts 

Will I see Straight Outta Compton? Yes, but I won’t be sitting there with my girly thoughts excusing how women are exploited. And I suggest you don’t either.

Maybe if we can start speaking up about what’s in our entertainment, we will feel more comfortable in speaking up in our lives, and maybe we’ll stop listening to our toxic girly thoughts!

Remember, you’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my latest book, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power.

Has Trump Done Women a Favor?


Even though we are 53 percent of the voting public, women do not always see things the same way. But no matter how different our views might be, one thing we do share is being a woman. This means we share similar health worries, have faced similar challenges in our personal lives, and have dealt with similar unfairness in our professional lives.

This is why Donald Trump might be doing us a favor.

By threatening one of us for not being nice at work, by dismissing our opinions because of our hormones, and by mocking us for our looks, Trump is helping us see what we all have in common. And these are things we have all experienced at work and even at home.

Why? Because as women, you and I deal with sexism on a daily basis. That sexism is usually subtler, but sometimes not. For example, yesterday I posted an article about Megyn Kelly on Facebook and received the comment “Fuck that bitch” in return. This is not a usual response to my posts on Facebook.

I wondered if the commenter was referring to the article or to me, or both?

Not Listening to Our Girly Thoughts 

We have all been on the receiving end of this type of anger when we’ve stepped out of our assigned roles. What was interesting to me is that this man felt comfortable posting something like this. He felt this was his right as a man to threaten her and me. But why?

I wasn’t listening to my well-conditioned, toxic girly thought that said I had to be nice, even on Facebook. I posted an article that said Megyn Kelly did a good job, and women were angry at being criticized—again—for voicing their opinions, for doing their jobs as well as men.

What Can YOU Do?

  • Take heart that you are not alone
  • Get involved politically
  • Express how you feel
  • Make your needs as a woman known to those running for office.

This may just be a moment when we are all facing the same way, but let’s use it to express what we need: equal pay, child care, freedom from government interference in our health decisions …

Yes, you can make a difference if you don’t listen to those pesky girly thoughts.

Remember, you’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my latest book, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power.

I’m Not Mad. That’s Just My Resting Bitch Face


Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 12.27.37 AM

Did you see this article in Saturday’s New York Times Fashion and Style section titled “I’m Not Mad. That’s Just My RBF”? In it, author Jessica Bennett writes,

For those who need a review, RBF is a face that, when at ease, is perceived as angry, irritated or simply … expressionless. It’s the kind a person may make when thinking hard about something—or perhaps when they’re not thinking at all.

Resting Bitch Face (RBF) is the latest in a list of negative terms that implies that for women (but not men), an angelic expression is the only acceptable one. Other equally flattering expressions used to describe women include PMSing and On the Rag.

By labeling a face in repose as a RBF, society suggests that only happy, positive emotions should be expressed by women—otherwise, even if you are not aware of having “the look,” you are still being a bitch!

Despite having messages like anger is unladylike and you don’t want that look frozen on your face drummed into your head, you are human, and you feel lots of things, including annoyance and anger … and sometimes, nothing at all.

The unrealistic expectation that a woman should always have a serene and pleasant facial expression is what I call a girly thought, one of those internalized, toxic messages about how you should look and should act that deplete your energy and misdirects your focus.

RBF Is a Toxic Girly Thought

Have you ever destroyed a candid photo of yourself wearing a RBF because you don’t want anyone to see you like that? Imagine the pressure felt by female celebrities whose RBFs have been caught on film! And according to the NYT article, “Plastic surgeons say they are fielding a growing number of requests from those who want to surgically correct their ‘permafrowns’ (again, primarily from women).”

I’m Not Mad, That’s Just How I Look

Don’t get trapped by the toxic girly thought that says you must look pleasant and happy all the time. Sometimes a face in repose is just that, not a look of anger or unhappiness.

A friend of mine who was a flight attendant many years ago tells of working a red-eye flight (which meant being on her feet and working all night). At deplaning the next morning, a male passenger thought it was amusing to instruct each female flight attendant to “Smile, sweetheart, you have nothing to be unhappy about!” She wondered how the male pilots might have reacted if told the same thing.

I invite you to take a few minutes to read the New York Times article, and then let me know how you feel about the term resting bitch face. How will you combat your own girly thoughts the next time someone asks you if you’re mad when you’re just sitting quietly?

Remember, you’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my latest book, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power.

Is Society Holding Your Daughter Back … or Are You ?


(source: http://www.picturesofbabies.net)


Good Housekeeping just posted a terrific piece giving advice to mothers, titled, “5 Ways to Encourage Confidence in Your Daughter”

An important part of the message is that for women to consciously build confidence in their daughters, they also have to undo the messages they have bought into—self-defeating beliefs and behaviors I call toxic girly thoughts.

Shocking Statistics

GH quotes a study by feminine-care brand Always that surveyedmore than 1,000 British females aged between 16 and 24 years old, and found that a staggering 66% reported feeling held back by society.”

Yes, by the time young women are spreading their wings, they feel society’s constraints. But the truth is, this begins much earlier and more innocently.

How Does It Happen?

Mothers learn what society expects and unconsciously teach their daughters to do the same. A mother’s actions are observed by her daughter, who then consciously or unconsciously models Mom’s behaviors.

Think you’re not guilty? Have you ever:

-       berated yourself in front of your daughter?

-       announcedI’m so stupid” when you’ve made a mistake?

-       focused on criticizing your appearance with statements like “I’m so fat“ when you look in the mirror?

-       avoided taking risks because “I know I’ll mess this up if I try”?

-       focused on gender stereotypes so they will be seen as acceptable by:

  • saying things like “Don’t be a smarty pants,” or
  • encouraging your daughter to wear a dress instead of pants, or
  • rewarding your daughter for being sweet while you reward your son for being strong?

When we act on our toxic girly thoughts in front of our own daughters, we inadvertently teach them to do likewise, thereby carrying society’s message home to another generation.

What to Do?

Walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk. You are the most powerful example your daughter has. Listen to how you speak to yourself.

Then ask yourself, Is this how I want my daughter to speak to herself?

If not, then stop. Easy? No. But you’ll have lots of opportunity to practice saying no to your girly thoughts because these messages are all through society.

Once you stop acting on these disempowering and toxic messages, you will inspire confidence in your daughter, and at the same time, you’ll gain more confidence in yourself!

Remember, you’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my latest book, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power.

A New Way to Heal Your Own Trauma Through Self-Parenting: Audiobook Now Available


My toxic girly thoughts told me I should just put this information on my website and not make a big deal about it. After all, isn’t this boasting? Then my resilience kicked in and said, “You worked hard to write this book—so shout about it!”

What’s All the Fuss About?

My most recent book on trauma, Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenting: The Codependency Connection, was released in 2012, and I just learned it is now available as an audiobook. Healing Trauma was truly inspired by my patients and workshop attendees who often lamented that they were “getting worse” as they delved into trauma literature because they couldn’t navigate their responses—their triggers.

Healing Trauma was my response. It is a pivotal book that focuses both on what trauma is and on what you can do now to begin to heal through managing your triggers.

Since its publication, many of you have shared with me how this book launched you on your journey of healing.

Now your healing can take place anywhere.

There is a new assist for all of you who find yourselves in your cars or who just prefer to be read to instead of doing the reading: Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenting: The Codependency Connection is available as an audiobook. And if you purchase the Kindle version through Amazon.com, you can also get the Audible audiobook for a significantly reduced price*.

I learned about the audiobook version of Healing Trauma through a thank-you note from JM, one of the listeners who wrote to thank me for sharing “. . . the best book and most helpful book I have ever read (in this case, listened to) on this important, and very relevant to me, subject.”

You might wonder why it took a note from a listener to inform me that I have an audiobook, but when you sign a publishing contract, the publisher puts your book out there, and you don’t always know where.

That’s why I need you!

Thank YOU!

Your notes, emails, and comments when I speak are so important to me, and they provide valuable information such as JM’s email illustrated. They inspire me to keep trying to figure out how to make healing accessible to all. So thank you! We make a good team . . . keep letting me know what you think, feel, and what you find out!

If you’d like to listen to Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenting: The Codependency Connection and start on your own path to healing, here’s the link:

If you’d like to read the Kindle* version and take advantage of the discounted audiobook bundle pricing, here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/Healing-Trauma-Through-Self-Parenting-Co-Dependency/dp/B00BFDECDC/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1434838669

*If you don’t own a Kindle, you can download a free app to use on your Apple, Android, or Window devices.

Enjoy, and remember to let me know what you think!

Remember, you’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my latest book, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power.

Begin Each Day With a Yes … and a No



I’ve attached a blog written by someone who may be familiar to you, Candace Johnson, the editor of my last three books, who I praise in my acknowledgments. She sent me this blog on July 11, just before my book signing in Lake Placid, NY. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/candace-johnson/living-in-the-moment_b_7754246.html

With all of the busyness of my life, I, like you, miss important events, so I didn’t see this until later.

Sunday morning as I sang in church, the tears finally came for Candace, her family, and this beautiful young girl literally cut down in the prime of her life. I thought about Candace’s advice about appreciating life because it could change in an instant, and I wondered, how?

My takeaway and my suggestion for you is to begin each day with an intention about what you want to bring into your life and what you want to stop in your life. Since you and I live a life so filtered through our societal messages of what we should do and how we should look, what I’ve named our toxic girly thoughts, I offer my intention to you:

Each day when I wake up and check my emails while still in bed, I’m going to write an intention for the day in my phone:

  • A personal, concrete goal I have for myself this day;
  • Which girly thought I’m going to challenge because I know from experience that it will rear its ugly head and attempt to misdirect my energies as I pursue my goal.

Why don’t you try this, and let me, and Candace, know how it works for you.

Remember, you’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my latest book, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power.

What Do Your Girly Thoughts Look Like?

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Yes, I mean, what do girly thoughts physically look like? The way we internalize these ever-present societal messages of how we should look and should act can result in eating disorders, body-image problems, addictions, even depression.

We know we weren’t born this way. We began as little girls who liked ourselves and liked the world. Our girly thoughts are what we have learned.

One picture is worth a thousand words. Here is how Florida artist Michelle Sohn has depicted this toxic inner trash talk that I’ve labeled girly thoughts:




Please share images of your toxic girly thoughts with me.

Copies of Michelle’s artwork can be obtained by contacting her at michellejoyhope@gmail.com

Remember, you’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my latest book, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power.