The 300 Workout: How Movies Fuel Boys’ Insecurities

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Originally posted on TIME:

Young men—whether they were looking for their battlefield gore fix or a chance to geek out over the historical inaccuracies of a sex scene between Themistokles and Artemisia—lined up for the opening of 300: Rise of an Empire on Friday. And though some parents may forbid their teens from seeing the R-rated film because of the blood and violence, they should probably be more concerned about the Greeks’ sweaty, washboard abs.

We’re all familiar with the pressures on girls and women to look thin, but discussions of body image often overlook men—a demographic increasingly at risk for unhealthy behaviors due to body insecurity. Men are feeling increased pressure to add muscle mass and gain weight, not lose it.

The average guy wants 15-27 more pounds of muscle and a three to four percent decrease in body fat. And a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics in January found that 18…

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Breastfeeding on Instagram: a Few Celeb Pics Worth a Thousand Words

I was checking out the latest on one of my fave celeb news gossip sites, when I saw this: model and actress, Yaya Dacosta posted a picture of herself breastfeeding her infant son on Instagram—and I was shocked at just how many comments condemned her for publicizing what some still feel is a private practice.  People said things like, “posting your breasts on Instagram is just asking for attention”, and “nobody needs to see this”; one person sarcastically concluded that she should post pics of herself on the toilet because “taking a dump after all, is natural, too.”

I think, what’s the big deal?  What I’ve seen so far of the celeb breastfeeding pics (Giselle Bundchen, Miami Dolphin Phillip Wheeler’s girlfriend, Ashley Nicole, and now Yaya), none of them are lewd or overexposed at all, in my humble opinion.  And honestly, I’ve seen way more side-boob on the red carpet at The Oscars.

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*iStock photo: this is not Yaya!*

As a pediatrician, I welcome all the attention that celebrity women are bringing to breastfeeding. The list of benefits go on and on- breastfed babies get sick less, have a lesser risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and even childhood leukemia1- and the list can continue.

I’m particularly glad to see Black or African-American celebs being more open about this.  While breastfeeding rates in the Black community have risen (between 2000-2008, rates for Black women went from 47 to 59%), they could be much higher. Compared to other groups, Black women continue to have the lowest rates.2 I’m not saying that celebrity Instagram photos are the answer to this complex issue, but I think it helps when images like these become normalized in an open, but tactful way.

Ultimately, reaction to pics like these speak volumes about the still widely held taboo about breastfeeding in this country—and they’ve triggered an interesting conversation.

So, What Do You Think?  Sound off in the Reply section.

  • Is the Instagram breastfeeding photo “scandal” really a scandal?  Or could the pics I mentioned shape a more positive opinion about breastfeeding in general?
  • How do you think we could de-stigmatize and support breastfeeding more in this country?

Want to learn more?

Love and Hip-Hop New York (#LHHNY) Highlights Child Developmental Concerns

20130803_180652A Pediatrician’s Take on Saigon and Erica Jean

Among the scandal and downright outrageousness on Love & Hip-Hop New York, you might remember the storyline about Saigon and Erica Jean, loving (but not to each other) parents to an adorable young son.

On the last couple of episodes, Saigon approached Erica because he was worried that their son, around 2 years old at that time, was not speaking with the same fluency he’s observed in his young daughter.

What I liked about the encounter:

  • It’s obvious that Saigon is keeping an eye on his son’s development, and wanted to talk with a health professional about his concerns—and he doesn’t hesitate to speak up and voice his concern that there might be a problem (we don’t actually know yet if there really is a problem).
  • Saigon was aware that autism is one potential cause of language delay.
  • He and Erica did seek a specialist of some kind for their son, and are even working on their own communication issues as one strategy to help him.

But there are also some things that bothered me:

  • He immediately blamed Erica for their son’s alleged language delay… AND had a huge fight wherein Saigon hurled Erica’s Louis bag like he was in an Olympic event.
  • In his earlier conversation with Peter Gunz, Peter said something like, “that means he’s probably gonna be a genius,” basically reinforcing the autism / Rain Man stereotype, whereby autism is romanticized as a marker for exceptional intelligence.
  • The first place Saigon and Erica Jean were shown getting help for their son was in a speech pathologist’s office, though that is probably because of  how the show was edited.  In reality, parents, the first place you should go if there is a language concern, or any other development-related concern, is to your child’s pediatrician.  From there, the pediatrician may refer your child to a speech pathologist, developmental-behavior pediatrician, or other specialist for further evaluation and treatment.

All that being said, I’m happy that Love & Hip-Hop is talking about the important issue of child development, including some warning signs for language delay.

So, What Do You Think?  Tell me in the Reply section.

  • What do you think should happen if two parents disagree about whether or not there is a concern with their child’s development?
  • I think it’s great that Saigon and Erica Jean are working on their own communication as part of the strategy to help their son.  Parents, what do you think are some other aspects of a child’s environment that might affect their language development?

Want To Know More?

Here’s one trusted resource that I happen to like… and, as always, DON’T HESITATE to discuss concerns or raise questions with your child’s pediatrician.  *Disclaimer: and please remember that nothing in this blog equals medical advice!*

Developmental Milestones, University of Michigan Health System  http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/devmile.htm

Developmental Delay, University of Michigan Health System      http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/devdel.htm

Speech vs. Language Delay and Disorder, University of Michigan Health System                                                                        http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/speech.htm