Anybody else remember wearing legwarmers after actor Jennifer Beals made them look so cool in Flashdance? My friends who took dance lessons really got into this style trend. While I wasn’t a dancer, I wore heather gray legwarmers over skinny jeans in the effort to shake my farm girl image and fit in with the cool kids at school.

I liked wearing those baggy sweatshirts, too. I’m not even sure I was allowed to watch the entire movie as a young teen, or if I just saw publicity surrounding it. But the song What a Feeling and the urban chic of Beals’ character, “Alex,” helped Flashdance make quite an impression on all of us in the 80s.

Fast forward to 2013 and the timeless beauty, grace and brains that Beals brings to all of her projects is unmistakable. I recently had the chance to meet Beals in Washington, DC after the national Stroller Brigade because of her work as spokesperson for the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition.

She graciously took time to greet me and other volunteers who had traveled from our home states for the event. Beals led our Stroller Brigade, speaking eloquently about the need for real reform that protects the most vulnerable among us from toxic chemicals.

Just like the rest of us, when she became a parent, Beals started wondering what makes a product safe for her family. The Yale graduate who has acted in a wide range of productions has focused attention in recent years on motherhood. Beals acknowledges that while she might be able to shop her way around toxic chemicals, ideally all parents would be able to find safer products at all price points.  She seems to perceive this as the social justice issue that it is.

Beals explained to news crews that she’s become a citizen lobbyist, just like countless other concerned parents who want Congress to create real toxic chemical reform, “What I’m hoping is that they’ll amend the Chemical Safety Improvement Act to do a couple of important things.  First of all, I don’t think it’s appropriate to take away states’ rights…I’d also like to see pregnant women, children and vulnerable communities covered in safety standards.” Beals’ meetings on Capitol Hill were in some of the 80 different offices where hundreds of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families members had their voices heard. I appreciate Safer Chemicals making my trip possible so I could be a part of this historic day, as well.

It’s been decades since the Flashdance legwarmer craze, and thousands of new chemicals have been created since the 80s for products we use every day, most of them untested for long-term safety.

Meanwhile, medical researchers report a disheartening trend of more chronic disease in our children, with suspected links to many toxic chemicals. But the antiquated Toxic Substances Control Act that was supposed to protect us is still stuck in a time warp. Without more effective language and authentic reform, even current legislation threatens to leave America behind the times.

You can hear the entirety of Beals’ Stroller Brigade speech here. Plus, you can have your say here asking for real reform that keeps up with the times.

Read more from Flour Sack Mama here.

Join Anne in asking Congress for meaningful laws on toxic chemicals here.

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