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The Entire Truth of Dr. Mayim Bialik

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Michael Friedman writes in Psychology Today:

For years, Dr. Mayim Bialik has been challenging our notion of what it means to be a girl and woman.

In a world that has a clear bias against women in science, Dr. Bialik received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from UCLA. And in a world that presents few and stereotypical roles for women in television and movies, Dr. Bialik has a long history of playing norm-challenging characters. From her portrayal of a young, outspoken and ambitious CC Bloom in the movie Beaches to her role as Blossom Russo in NBC’s Blossom – a teenage girl living in a house run by men after her mother left to pursue a new life and career – to neurobiologist Amy Farah Fowler in CBS’s The Big Bang Theory, Dr. Bialik has been presenting us with a different perspective on girls and women for 30 years.

And now with her new book, Girling Up: How to be Strong, Smart and Spectacular, Dr. Bialik is continuing in this tradition – by challenging stereotypes and trying to tell the entire truth about what girls face while growing up.

There is a critical need for a different perspective. Too often, girls and women face cultural stereotypes that suggest what they can or should do, resulting in bias and discrimination, particularly in academic and work settings. And the effects are severe; not only does discrimination against girls and women result in worse physical and mental health, but also in lower pay and opportunity to be hired for jobs.

For Dr. Bialik, stereotypes against women are not an abstract concept, but rather they are hurdles that she personally faced early on both as an aspiring neuroscientist and actress. “The roles for women, especially in television and movies, have been fairly narrow for most of entertainment history. I grew up watching the sitcoms of the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, and females were either the slut or the nerd – and there was nothing in between,” Dr. Bialik said. “We’ve come a long way, but our perception of women is pretty narrow. And women have been historically underrepresented in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) field for a lot of reasons.”

At the same time that girls and women face bias and discrimination in work and school, our culture over-emphasizes physical appearance. In particular, throughout history, random body ideals for women have been presented in culture, contributing to body image dissatisfaction among girls and women. In fact, negative views of one’s body are so pervasive among women that this is often referred to as “normative discontent.”

Dr. Bialik reflected on how she experienced having to compare herself to conventional societal norms of female attractiveness. “As an adult, I don’t look like a lot of women. I have ethnic features. I’m several dress sizes larger than your average actress in Hollywood … being a non-traditional looking female can be a challenge in a culture that really celebrates conventional leading ladies and attractiveness,” Dr. Bialik described. “I think part of that is having a broad understanding of how significant culture is. And how much notions of what is considered attractive varies by culture … One of the most confusing things, especially for young children, and for teenagers as well, is when their reality is not reflected by the adults around them.

“We’re not seeing entire truths presented to them.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 June 2017 at 1:54 pm

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