Sheila K. Collins Website



July 2012  

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This month I'm honoring a 14 year-old girl who marshaled support on for a petition to the magazine, Seventeen that I remember reading as a girl. YEAH for girl power, though body image issues are not just relevant for girls. Though we don't like to admit it, our bodies are us, and it's best to not have distorted images of what's real or even possible at any age. As our bodies change through the years, so do our self-images. I'm interested in how to stay accepting of the changes aging brings.


If you're near Pittsburgh, come join our new InterPlay teacher, Toni McClendon's Free Sample next Friday night that she's holding at an intriguing urban farm. Also the first week of August, Soyinka Rahim will be in Pittsburgh. She and members of our troupe will go to the Sarah Heinz House Girls Camp, and Soyinka will lead some groups and an Intergenerational Playshop during her visit.


Keep in touch and keep cool,




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Julia BloomUpcoming Events
July 13, 2012
Interplay Pittsburgh Free Sample

August 4, 2012
InterPlay Intergenerational PlayShop

July 6, 2012

I've never been fond of basements, though I'm not sure why. The house in Louisville KY where we moved the year I turned nine,[...]...


Nuns' Bus Stops In Pittsburgh

June 29, 2012 

The enormous graphically decorated "rock star" type bus pulled up in front of the office of Tim Murphy, (R) in Mt. Lebanon and stops before [...]...

June 25, 2012 

It's Sunday morning and I'm in a rental car on my way to Iowa City. A folk song special on NPR radio station is allowing me to sing along with  [...]...

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Embodying Ourselves



A 14 year-old girl from Maine, Julia Bloom, collected 84,000 signatures on to ask Seventeen to show at least one unaltered photo in each issue of their magazine. The concern here is to lessen the exposure of young girls to unrealistic images of female bodies, images that affect their judgments of themselves and how they look. The magazine denied ever altering the appearance of the face or figure of their models but they offered a Body Peace Treaty spelling out an agreement to only use Photoshop to alter objects, such as fabric wrinkles or stray wisps of hair.


In the old days, people could only see their reflection in a pond, shop windows, or on the surface of a shiny object. But nowadays, we're exposed to the continuous media images of other people's bodies, and instant cell phone snapshots, and video footage of our own. It's hard not to feel that these reflections are telling us "you are not thefairest of them all. Infact you're old, fat, and ugly."


Art of a girls reflection in Mirror
Art Work by Gavin Dobson

Young girls seem the most vulnerable to distortion, like the skinny African American girl in my InterPlay class at the Boys and Girls Club. She had no curves yet since she was only nine years old. But when we did a dance that involved moving our hips she said, "I can't do that. I'm too fat."



Known as our body image, these feelings and judgments about our bodies can affect our self-image and our self-esteem. And this isn't limited to teens and young adults, or to girls and women. Whenever the body changes its shape or look, which it does throughout our life, it can be a threat to who we think we are. Having to wear glasses, or hearing aids, or use a cane can challenge who we think we are. A man's receding hairline and eventual baldness involves him being seen sometimes as older than his peers. When I was pregnant, my body didn't feel like my body, and though I knew it was temporary, I didn't feel like myself.


So bodies change, and our image of ourselves sometimes has trouble keeping up with that. A common thought when people go to high school reunions is, who are all those old people? They can't be the same age as I am?


Through the years the image looking back at me in the mirror has changed and I sometimes wonder who that woman is. She has my father's eyes, so I'm reassured she's at least a relative of who I used to be. I think I can keep a Body Peace Treaty with her. 


Sheila K. Collins 2012

InterPlay Intergenerational PlayShop
The InterPlay Intergenerational PlayShop

Saturday August 4, 2012  1 pm -3 pm

Soyinka Rahim, brings her multi-generational workshop to Pittsburgh, through play and the arts they are helping build creative, caring communities. If you are experiencing the stress of "doing more with less," consider inviting family members, co-workers and friends to discover what happens when children and adults build creative bonds through artful play.


First United Methodist Church   5401 Centre Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15206

For more information contact Sheila Collins 817-760-4967

Sheila K. Collins, PhD 
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