Lisa Mandel

Body Evolution Video: Constructing the Perfect Woman

Written on November 1, 2013 at 10:12 am , by



When we see gorgeous faces on even more gorgeous bodies staring at us from glossy magazine pages, as adults we know they’re not real. We know that not even models can look that good. Yet that doesn’t stop us from thinking they’re beautiful. But if you’re an impressionable teen, these images fuel a desire to want to look just as perfect, or date someone who does.

With trending conversations about the ­thigh gap (if you haven’t heard, ask your daughter), the time is right for this now-viral video. Created by, it begins with a model at a photo shoot. After hair extensions, makeup, lighting and lengthy surgery at the hands of a very talented Photoshop engineer, it ends with the “perfect girl.” The mind-blowing transformation we witness is a reminder that no one is perfect—a message Global Democracy wants advertising agencies to start mentioning when manipulating body images in ads.

Make sure your teens and tweens (and even your husband, because he could use a reminder too) see this video.

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My Son Has a Concussion…Could it Be All in His Head?

Written on July 30, 2013 at 3:57 pm , by

My concussion IQ tests off the charts. I’m not a neurologist, coach, trainer or health teacher. I’m  just mom who learned way more about concussions than I ever wanted to.

My son picked up a ball before he could crawl, and has continued to toss one around virtually every day since. Given the number of hours he’s spent in a gym or on a field, it’s probably statistically pretty good that he didn’t get his first concussion until freshman year in high school, back in March 2012. He was out of school for two weeks, and sports for eight.  The injury was bad, but the recovery process was worse. The doctor’s instructions were clear—no activity, reading, bright lights, loud noise or looking at screens (TV, computer, phone) until all symptoms cleared. It took several days for my son to power down and be okay sitting quietly, just thinking or resting.  It was isolating.  It was boring. And what I didn’t realize at the time is that it was also pretty scary.

At first he acted like a typical invincible teenager. He was fine and a little TV, he reasoned, won’t matter. But as days passed, he didn’t feel better. He realized that if he did too much (or anything at all) too soon he could permanently damage his brain. He became more willing to chill out. I told him that it was his head, and only he could know if he was healing. Problem was, just as there are no visible signs of a concussion, there are no concrete markers for recovery. Everyone, including him, wondered if he was sure that he did or didn’t feel better yet. But he eventually did bounce back, and when he decided to quit rugby and football and just play basketball, I rejoiced.

When he got a second concussion exactly one year later, the fear was exponentially bigger. Concussions are bad. Two concussions could mean more damage, a longer recovery and, worse of all, the end of competitive sports. This time, my son was a model patient. He iced his head, rested, avoided screens, didn’t even dribble the ball.

After three weeks, he was feeling 100% and back to school and sports.  While doing homework a few days later, he dropped his pencil and as he bent to retrieve it, banged his head on the table.  He panicked. He had a headache, nausea, was sensitive to sound and light. The doctor said he had re-concussed.  A week later, he bumped into a door and freaked out again. He was so fearful that if a butterfly had landed on his head, he’d have sworn he was re-concussed yet again. Or so it seemed.

Eventually my pediatrician stepped in and suggested my son talk to a therapist.  When I shared the doctor’s thoughts with my son, I could see him turn over the idea in his mind. “Hmm, you mean I could be fine but not know it,” he said.  “Well, then I feel better.” Within one day he was fully recovered.  He never saw the shrink. The mere suggestion that it was all in his head was enough to cure him.

These days he’s careful but still plays aggressively, which he has to—the team motto is “Play Hard or Go Home” (why we push kids to train at profession levels is a topic for another post). When a basketball lands on his head he wonders if he’s concussed, but then realizes probably not, and keeps going.

Concussions: How Much Do You Know to Protect Your Teen? 

The Very Real Threat of Gun Violence in Schools

Written on April 12, 2013 at 1:27 pm , by

Yesterday, while sitting at my desk at work, I got the call. The call every parent fears, but never truly expects to get: There was a lockdown at my kids’ high school.

In the absence of real information, rumors flew at broadband speed from kids to parents, kids to kids, parents to parents. The scariest rumor, me hearing this 35 miles away in my office, was that there were 3 guys with guns; 2 had been captured, but one was still roaming the school. About an hour after the call, the school superintendent sent an “all safe” email explaining there had been a ‘perceived threat,’ and no violence. Classes would resume. Exhale.

The good news is that like all schools in post-Columbine America, there was a protocol in place that had been tested and practiced as they would a fire drill. When the 911 call was made to police, all halls were cleared as students and teacher locked and barricaded classroom doors with desks and tables. Blinds were drawn, lights turned off and everyone huddled silently under furniture while police with automatic weapons drawn swarmed the hallways and campus.

I’m way too young to have ‘ducked and covered,’ but the perceived threat of a nuclear attack was real in the 50’s. Of course it’s laughable now to imagine how hiding under a desk could protect anyone from an atomic bomb. But they had to do something, as we have to do something today. And the threat of someone shooting up my school is real in the 2000s.

Some kids were terrified and traumatized. They ran from school into the arms of equally distraught parents. And some took it all in stride as if this happens all the time – no worries. When I finally(!) reached my 14-year-old son by text, he was among the blasé.

Me: Hey, what’s going on?

Him: 2 kids with shotguns came but the police got them. Shots fired.

Me: OMG. Are u OK?

Him: I’m dead.

My son’s callous remark is his way of dealing. The only way he’ll be able to walk into school everyday is by turning this into a joke.  He might not be ready to acknowledge how lucky he is that this was effectively a very successful drill.  But it is not lost on me.

I knew this as I lay awake last night turning over and over the events of the day and feeling the pain of other parents from past incidences – and, horribly, probably in the future – whose kids are not laying awake in their beds. It’s unfathomable that in America today, this is the new normal.


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