By Rachel Naud
Photos James Banasiak
AT THE TIME OF WRITING THIS, a post by Mayim Bialik has gone viral with more than 8.5 million views. It’s not a video about her hit show The Big Bang Theory or a re-enactment of her role as CC Bloom in Beaches or even one of her bringing back her Blossom dance moves—all of which can be found with a quick Google search of her name.
Instead, this vlog, originally posted on her site, GrokNation, is of Bialik speaking frankly and candidly about calling women “girls” and the implications of doing so. The attention (and often times, scrutiny) Bialik has received for her unapologetic stance surrounding equality, feminism and attachment parenting is only rivaled by the amount of fame she has achieved by starring in the No. 1 comedy on TV today, The Big Bang Theory.
In addition to acting and posting viral videos, Bialik also released her new book, Girling Up: How to be Strong, Smart and Spectacular, all the while raising two tween boys—ages 11 and 8. She sat down with INBETWEEN to chat about her hit show, her new book and why it’s important for her to raise her boys as feminists.
THE BIG BANG THEORY
Already on air for 10 seasons, The Big Bang Theory, one of primetime’s highest-rated series, has been renewed for an additional two seasons, extending the show’s lifetime to an astounding 12 seasons.
“I think we have very interesting and talented writers who write stories that resonate with people who are on the outside,” says Bialik. “I guess all of us in some ways are on the outside at some point in our lives—some of us more than others. I think that’s a lot of it.”
Bialik, who plays Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on the show, says she connects with her character because they’re both scientists (Bialik is also a neuroscientist) and both can be well…awkward.
“Obviously, she’s (Amy) created by our writers but they incorporate different parts of me or different parts of female scientists that we all know,” says Bialik. “She’s socially awkward, kind of late to the game socially. She speaks her mind.”
In fact, Bialik often writes about her experiences as a late bloomer—both on TV and in real life—on her popular website, GrokNation. Her candid conversations about being awkward was what attracted publishing powerhouse Penguin Books to come to her with a request: write a book for teen girls.
Girling Up: How to be Strong, Smart and Spectacular is a comprehensive book, a sort of complete map to being female—including everything from puberty and dating to how our brains work and how we grow and how we matter in the world, says Bialik who adds, “it’s especially needed in the climate that girls are growing up in today.”
“I think the challenges of being female are special and different,” she says. “Every female is different and that’s something I talk about in the book but, for sure, globally, we have a very different type of experience as women than men do and that’s something I also talk about. I talk about education around the world and lack of access to education. I also talk about different cultural expectations about what’s expected of women.”
Other hot topics in the book include sex, hormones and body image. And while the book is geared to teen and tween girls, that didn’t stop Bialik from sharing it with her 11-year-old son.
“He was my first editor,” says Bialik. “He actually read through the book to see if the tone was right. Meaning, did he understand the words that I was using and the way that I was using them. He blushed through a lot of it. But I think it’s absolutely important for boys to understand things about girls’ bodies, and in the book I also talk about boys’ bodies and the hormones of boys and stereotypes of the masculine gender. So, I think it’s very important for not only girls to read this book, but for the people who love them to read it as well.”
Bialik, who is an advocate for attachment parenting (a philosophy that promotes the attachment of mother and infant and continual bodily closeness) says she still believes in the parenting theory as her boys venture into the tween and teen years.
“The number one unifying principle of attachment parenting is gentle discipline,” says Bialik. “As kids get older, that continues to mean not using punitive discipline and not hitting them. Not screaming or yelling at them and not intimidating them with fear or pain. It means keeping lines of communication open with your child, it means a lot more talking—and not talking at them —talking with them. It can be exhausting because sometimes you just want to scream ‘Because I said so!’ but the principles of attachment parenting encourage us to continue building the relationship in any way possible.”
One of the ways in which Bialik continues to build her relationship with her sons is to raise them with the values of feminism.
“The definition of feminism is the belief in the equality of women and the rights of women to make decisions and be equal parts of society and their lives,” she says. “The true movement of feminism and, particularly second-wave feminism, is to empower people of all races, classes and genders, and that is the set of values I instill in my boys.”
Bialik, who admits she’s a strict parent, says she also loves to show her fun-loving side to her kids.
“I’m also a fun mom. I love to sing and dance with them. I think it’s very important for them to be silly with me. We went to a home school dance (our kids are home schooled) and their dad and I were out on the dance floor trying to get them to dance with us. It was fun. I was screaming, ‘Turn down for what’ to my 11-yearold and he thought it was hilarious.” ■