I like my men tough and my women strong

Swan Kick by FlyingMouse 365

When I think of an ideal role model for my daughter, my goddaughter, Friend’s daughter, and me, I tend to think of a few specific attributes.

  • Intelligence. Knowledge is power, after all. And I’m not referring simply to a natural state of intelligence, I’m thinking of one who hungers for information always.
  • Excellent communication skills. She can explain complex theories in ways that are perfectly easy to grasp. She can convince you easily, smoothly. She can mediate. She can make peace. She can state her piece clearly, concisely.
  • Independence. She’s a free-thinking individual who doesn’t blindly follow the herd. Sometimes she takes the well-worn road, but she’ll forge her own path if she has to. The people she loves and brings into her life are there by her choosing and invitation and are not there because of fear, insecurity, or because everyone else has someone in their lives.
  • Hard-working. It doesn’t matter what the work is, when it’s time to get to it she does it. She puts her best effort, full concentration, and complete passion into the things that are meaningful in her life.
  • Confidence. She doesn’t look to others for approval because she doesn’t need it. She might raid your brain for some ideas or input or perspective but she makes up her own mind. She screws up, admits it, learns, and moves on. She knows she can handle “this” and this is everything.

If you ask me, any woman who has ever made a positive mark on history has possessed these qualities. If you want to be an effective woman and create change in your world, these qualities must be in your possession. These are the traits of a strong woman. This is what you will find in common among all women of significance on all levels– from a local environmental activist to an international advocate for women’s rights to a CEO of a multimillion dollar corporation.

Do you know what you may not find among the truly amazing women in our world?

Leather wardrobes, a penchant for armor and horseback riding, abilities to hot-wire a car or even change a tire much less the oil, guns, motorcycles, and other indicators of “toughness” Peg Aloi clamors for in her piece at Huffington, Tough Gals: Do They Still Exist?. Heck, I bet among the truly amazing, strong women in the world you may not always find even a pantsuit.

The strong women of today aren’t any less so than the women of yesterday because they may or may not own a Hello Kitty bra. Aloi bemoans the current fascination with all things girly, touting this as an indication we’ve gone as soft as a handknit cashmere scarf.

What happened to our hard-won bad-assery? All those years of being suffragettes, bra-burners, free love artists, corporate queen bees, supermoms and women-who-wanted-and-got-it all? I mean, hadn’t we arrived and become a force to be reckoned with? […] Maybe “having it all” was a silly fantasy that ultimately made women feel exhausted and inferior. Maybe we just wanted to sit on our asses and knit and eat cupcakes in our Hello Kitty jammies.

And now that so many women have seemingly retreated from our reign of awesomeness to immerse themselves in the feminine past-times of yesteryear, it does indeed appear that we’ve lost sight of what it means to be a badass, strong, tough woman.

Oh dear, Peg (can I call you Peggy? It’s so much cuter). It appears you have it all wrong. And you are so misguided in your judgment I can’t help but wonder– are you a member of the patriarchy in feminist clothing?

Here is a quick description of Peg’s longed for tough gals:

There are tough times ahead, and we need to be tough bitches to face them. Growing vegetables is useful; but so is learning how to shoot a gun, hot-wire a car, and manipulate our way into a bomb shelter. Remember our tough gal role models? They were strong, sexy, and took no crap. They wore leather and sang rock and roll.

Here’s what bothers me about that whole description she’s got going on there– those chicks sound a lot like… men. She even goes on to specifically mention the likes of Grace Jones who worked hard to look like… a man. And really? Courtney Love? As much as I love her music, I’d rather not hold her up on a pedestal as a kind of woman to aspire to.

I will not take away what the stereotypical tough gals do for the feminist cause. Specifically, they show men they’re not as precious as they think themselves they are. These women show them we can do a lot of the stuff they claim for themselves. Heck, they even show women can even look like men. These are the “Anything you can do, I can do better” variety and they have their place in the movement.

The problem is, as a feminist I demand equal rights for men and women. There’s no clause attached to that statement. See, I don’t want equal rights for men and women who emulate men.

As a matter of fact, I will go on to argue this type of op-ed piece is extremely damaging to the feminist movement. Here’s why.

This piece concedes the domestic, “ultra-femme” arts are sub-par to the more masculine arts of the gun-toting, hot-wiring variety. This piece is basically admitting a realization that women and the things they are often associated with are less important and less desirable. This is extremely dangerous and damaging thinking.

It is in the same vein as declaring a teacher to be of a lesser class than a police officer. They’re both civil servants. They’re both employed to better the public. But being a teacher, in this context, is definitely not as awesome as being a police officer.

Peg claims shooting a gun to be as useful as gardening. At the same time, she’s pretty horrified by cupcakes. Funny enough, the first woman to come to mind when you talk to me about shooting guns is Sarah Palin while the first woman who comes to mind when you talk to me about cupcakes (and every domestic art) is Martha Stewart.

I’m pretty sure most people would concede Martha’s at least as tough as Sarah. I mean, Martha even served time in jail. And they’re both often referred to by that b-word Peg’s so fond of. For me, the differences come down to their contributions– Martha’s got a huge multi-faceted corporation and Sarah’s… well I’m not going to go into Sarah right now but I don’t count her as a feminist that’s for sure.

Not to mention, this kind of ridiculous commentary takes away from some really amazing women that are accomplishing some really amazing things right now.

  • Let’s start with BUST magazine. BUST is a feminist magazine. One of its founders was Debbie Stoller— the knitting rock star of the world if you will. Peg’s pissed they’re having a craft fair. The thing is, BUST’s got it right– equal rights for women: even the ones who do womanly things.
  • What about Miesha Tate? She’s the Strikeforce MMA fighter with a championship belt. She often wears pigtails into the ring and has posed in some very sexy and feminine poses. She looks cute and girly as heck but she’ll choke your lights out– while wearing pink.
  • There’s also Misty Copeland. She does this super girly thing called ballet. And she’s amazing at it. Is that too girly? Even if she’s more muscular than Xena? I haven’t even mentioned she’s a rare African-American ballerina and is making waves in the call for further diversity in the ballet world.
  • Let’s also talk about Daina Taimina. Don’t know her? She’s a mathematician (so feminine, right?). Daina solved a problem mathematicians had been struggling with for centuries– how to make a model of a hyperbolic plane that you can physically manipulate without damaging. Until Daina came along, mathematicians had to rely on computer models and you can’t touch those. And a colleague of her came up with paper models but those were really delicate little things that you couldn’t stretch or smoosh or twist or toss or anything. Well Daina saw those paper models and figured out the solution– she crocheted a hyperbolic model.
  • Peg really likes fictional female characters. She provides more examples of characters in movies and TV than real-life women in her piece. Since she likes those fake women so much, I have another recommendation for an interesting woman– Alexia Tarabotti. She’s the main character in Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate novels. Alexia is quite concerned with manners, pastries, and parasols but she also gets down and dirty with the likes of werewolves, vampires, ghosts, and other spooky things– all while keeping her hair as neat as possible, please.
  • Finally, there’s a whole segment of women that were recently in the news– female investors. Funny enough, Peg alludes to a particular “Wall Street ball-breaker in Working Girl” but what’s fascinating is the news that female investors have been more successful managing portfolios than men. Why? By being decidedly feminine in their investment strategies– i.e. risk-averse (and most likely not concerned with ball-breaking).

What is truly important to understand is the fight for equal rights for women is not a fight that requires masculinity or toughness. The fight for equal rights does not require blazing guns and fist fights. It doesn’t require armor. Honestly, it doesn’t even need these things and most women fighting for women’s rights don’t want to bring these things into the equation. And it’s not because we’re soft. It’s because we want our rights on our womanly, feminine terms.

As a matter of fact, if you ask me what a leader in the feminist movement should look like, I’d say I’d prefer one that looks decidedly feminine. We are women. There’s absolutely no shame in that. We don’t need to pretend. We don’t need to hide. I am woman, hear me roar– in my dress and stilettos.

Advertisements

Dear Daughter

Dear Daughter,

Last Friday, I got to see you all dolled up in your tutu for your too brief ballet performance at the school talent show. You looked so beautiful, comfortable, and confident. After your part in the show, we watched the rest of the talent show and you stood on my lap and danced as a middle school band played Coldplay.

The rest of the weekend unfolded the way most of them do—playing and fighting with your brothers, watching movies, protesting orders to eat, clean, bathe, and sleep. You saw your grandparents for a couple of hours and enjoyed the pool while I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned the house some more.

And then last night, when you hung up after talking to Daddy and his girlfriend, you started asking me all kinds of questions that I wasn’t ready for. I answered them as best as I could and I wonder if I answered them well.

You asked me how I “got Daddy” and I figured out you were asking how we met and I told you that we met in school and you understood that.

You asked me was it hard to get married? And I said yes it was. And you asked how we got you and your brothers. I told you we had you while we were together.

You asked how your grandmother got Daddy and I explained she was his Mommy and she had him as a baby like I had you and you asked if she found him or what?

And I laughed and explained no she carried him in her belly like I carried you and you thought that was hilarious—your eyes shot up huge and round and you giggled like mad. I asked wasn’t it funny thinking of Daddy as a baby? You asked what Daddy looked like as a baby and I told you I didn’t really know, that you should ask your grandmother to show you pictures.

You told me you wanted me and Daddy to live together and wanted to know why we didn’t and I explained Mommy and Daddy couldn’t be happy together.

You asked me how I could get mad at you and your brothers but still love you and I explained to you that you were my kids and I loved you no matter what you did. And I had to explain to you how the love between a parent and a child is very different from the love of two grown-ups.

But I swore to you that I loved you very much and that I always would and I kissed you and hugged you good night and went to tuck in your brothers.

I don’t think you liked my answers because later, I found Missy (the doll I crocheted you) flung in the hallway outside of your bedroom. I tossed her back into your bed thinking you were playing a game and later found her outside again. You never go to bed without Missy. You never go many places without Missy.

This morning, I mentioned I’d found Missy outside in the hallway and asked if you were mad at her. You said yes but wouldn’t tell me why. Then, you told me you weren’t mad at her anymore and when I asked what you were taking to show and tell, you answered Missy and didn’t put her down the rest of the morning.

You are an extremely smart little girl and I can tell you’re working through the whole concept of Daddy and me not being together. I can tell you get frustrated because you want to understand it fully so you can be ok with it but you can’t because a lot of it just doesn’t make sense to you.

I know you like Daddy’s girlfriend and I know you like my friend, but it’s just not the same.

You don’t understand how your Mommy and Daddy aren’t together because all the Mommies and Daddies you see and know are together.

You don’t understand when people are married, they can break up because Princesses never dump their Princes.

You don’t understand love in a gray way and I think you’re scared that if Mommy and Daddy left each other, maybe we’d leave you.

I’m not going to leave you.

I adore you so much. I admire you too, you know.

You’re smart as hell and completely confident. You know what you can do and what you can’t and yet manage to not let that stop you. You know what feels right and what doesn’t. You have no problem asking questions and no problem showing your emotions. I get the feeling you don’t beat yourself up too much.

Sometimes, you scare me. Like last night when I assured you I’d always love you no matter what you do, part of me was thinking “please don’t test that too much.”

Later, when I saw Missy in the hallway, I felt like I’d totally let you down. I hate that feeling, but I know there’s more to come as you get older.

And yet I hope there’s more room for understanding too.

Dear Daughter, you blow me away. You motivate me. You fill me with pride. You give me the drive to do better, to do more and more than I possibly thought I could do before.

There’s a lot of crap in this world especially where us girls are concerned. In many ways, your brothers have it loads easier than you do.

But, you’ve got a secret weapon—me.

I believe in glass ceilings as little as I believe the homemaker way of life is a woman’s natural inclination. I don’t believe we’re the weaker sex. I don’t even believe math comes easier to boys!

I think we’re very savvy creatures and quite complex too. I also think we’re incredibly strong despite the fact we’re not much for in your face antics.

I’ve screwed up over and over again in this lifetime, mostly because I refused to accept other people’s truths as my own. This is a good thing as much as it is a bad thing.

For you, I only wish you do what you need to do and know you can come to me no matter what trail you blaze. Have no fear, Daughter. I’ll always love you, always fight for you, always listen to you.

It doesn’t matter to me if you become a mega lawyer, a savvy scientist, a brilliant businesswoman, or tender and loving housewife. What does matter to me is that you’re pleased and happy and proud and content with what you do and if you need help feeling that, know we all do and I’ll help you the way my mom tries to help me.

I know your little heart is hurt because Daddy and I aren’t together and everything around you says we should be. I know I can’t say or do anything to help it make sense to you right now (or maybe, ever) and that frustrates the heck out of you.

But I also know you’re bigger than that. Something like that isn’t going to be what defines you, what breaks you, what holds you down.

I just wish you knew that too.

I love you, I love you, I love you—a million times more, I love you.

8/52: FO Friday + Babbling

I don’t know if I can channel how emphatically I’m thinking this but just know it’s really, really heartfelt when I say, “Thank the sweet eight pounds six ounce baby Jesus it is Friday.” I don’t know even know why really but I feel like I’ve been put through the wringer this week and I’m just done. It was so hard to pull myself from bed and get into the office today, not because I don’t like my job because I do—a lot actually, but because I’m just worn the heck out. MutantDaughter spent the entire day sleeping yesterday. And when I say that, I’m completely serious. I think she was awake maybe 2, 3 hours max all day yesterday. She got a fever in the afternoon and her left ear started leaking this brownish clearish pinkish stuff that dries into a sticky crusty disaster. This with the complete and total sleepiness which is not anything like her at all freaked me out a bit and I called the doctor. I had a prescription for some ear drops from the previous battle with this same exact ear and same exact situation and they told me fill it, start it, and have her come in tomorrow. I’d already anticipated a need for the doctor earlier that day and begged Ex to please schedule and take her and he agreed (Shock! Awe!) so I went and spent over an hour in Walgreen’s. This is not good for the pocket book and I admit I did some stress-related shopping on top of the only item needed—Q-tips. I spent $13.90 so I’ve got $10 to go on my Spending Challenge and that should work fine for some milk and eggs. Doctor says it looks like a middle ear infection and the ear drum opened up and is spewing everything out. Delicious. Just have to keep doing what I’m doing and it’ll clear up soon.

I’m really hesitant to start guesstimating because it feels like I’m taunting fate, but it looks like I might have managed to accumulate about a $700 rollover. I’ll have a concrete number on Monday when I get paid and the new month begins and will announce it with much pomp and circumstance. I’m trying to figure out a budget for next month’s non-bill expenses and my first attempt was almost twice what I’d spent this month so that got scrapped. By the way, every month I do this and every month I think I’m budgeting conservatively and then add it up and oops! Just goes to show you, we really underestimate financial numbers. After reworking it a couple of times, I’m down to about what I’d initially planned as a budget for February– $650. I’d like to try this number out and see how it does. This month has been ok overall and has made me feel a bit better about maybe making $650 a regular number. It is, after all, a 30% increase and I was able to manage ok with the $500. It does make shopping a much more carefully executed sort of thing in that I have to do thinks like consider all kinds of things that could possibly come up in a month that would require some sort of cash. But, I guess that’s the point. It’s supposed to be like that instead of some mindless activity. This is conscious spending, Mutant. It’s not more work than impulsive spending, it’s different work. But, that’s the Expenses side of my life.

On the Income side, Ex is moving into his parents’ home this weekend so he doesn’t have to pay rent which may bode well for me. I’m trying to see if maybe he’ll give me a guess as to how much and when he’ll pay me so I can then underestimate it by about 20% and plan for that. Maybe I seem cynical or whatnot but this is the kind of guy who got out of his lease by lying about getting a job in New York. The reality is on March 1, he’ll owe me well over $3,000 and yeah, if I’m ever going to get my life on solid ground, I need that money and for him to pay me consistently. He did tell me the salary at the new job is at least twice what he’s got now plus commission so he should be steadier in that sense, especially when the garnishment goes into effect, but he doesn’t have a start date yet and I don’t have a court date. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, sometimes it just flickers or grows really dim threatening to disappear completely.

I’m working on The Passage. It’s Creepy (capital C intended). And it’s got lots of yucky bits which I find fun and hard to read at the same time. At first, the book was sort of driving me crazy because I swear to you he throws like one hundred characters at you in under fifty pages. Characters are always hard for me to manage in my brain, I have no idea why. I considered writing notes but figured I’d probably just lose the paper anyways and besides it’ll settle to just a few eventually and it has so that’s nice except that it’s all done quite tragically and horribly so that’s not nice but hey, it’s fiction and fun at that. The library has Red Pyramid ready for Eldest and an organizing book, a crochet book, and The Lonely Polygamist ready for me. Not to mention nice crispy brand new copies of Outlander and Soulless and PostSecret are waiting for me in my bookshelves. Oh yes, books and books and books galore.

My kitchen remains clean, my dining table remains clear. I almost screwed it all up last night being so exhausted from the day but I ripped myself a new one about how I’ve done this too many times to know better and that I know exactly what’ll happen if I let things slide just one night. It’s never just one night, don’t kid yourself. And that was that. I got to work and cleared everything away in about twenty minutes before collapsing exhausted in my bed. Tonight shall be Frozen Box Pizza Night so I won’t have to worry about dirtying the kitchen at least. I’ll likely stop at the library for some kiddo movies. Tomorrow there’s the birthday party. It should be a nice weekend. I’m going to finish sorting out the rest of what’s going back into the hall closet though I’m pretty sure I’ve cleared away almost everything that’s getting cleared.

By the way, I was thinking about creating a concrete Chores Plan for the kids. The two this would apply to are the 7 and 4 year old. What I was thinking of was basic chores that they are required to do because they’re part of the team and we all have responsibilities. But, I thought it might be a good idea to add a couple of things they could do to earn money. They both get a small allowance ($4 for Eldest, $1 for Daughter) and I was thinking this might allow them to supplement their earnings. The tasks would be small and the reward would be a quarter each I’m thinking. Ideas on age-appropriate things they can do? Right now, they’re responsible for making their beds in the morning, cleaning their plates and place mats after dinner, hanging their towels, putting away their folded laundry, and putting their dirty clothes in the hamper. Things I was thinking of as additional include watering the plants, feeding the fish, emptying the bathroom trash can, help putting away Baby’s folded laundry, sweeping piles into the dust pan and trash, emptying the dishwasher of the kid stuff, wiping their bathroom counter (so gross with the neon toothpaste), and…

I’m trying to think of something for the toys but I think that might only become clear when March is over and the playroom is organized. Any other ideas? What kind of child labor do you have going in your house?

I’m going to kill two birds with one stone and use my FO Friday picture as my weekly photo set. Some might call it cheating, but crocheting IS a part of my life so I think it counts. Otherwise, you’d get a boring picture of a bird on a car.

An ancient friend of mine’s little brother had a baby last week so I made her something. It’s kind of a big deal when the baby siblings have kids, I think. I haven’t had that experience yet but I’m pretty sure it’ll be really moving and sort of crazy if/when that happens with MutantWino and/or MutantPirate, my younger brothers. I think that’ll just make me feel really old. Anyways, the hat and booties were pretty simple to whip up but I’m a perfectionist and each one took two attempts. They’re from the book Crochet from the Heart and I think I may add this to the Wish List of books to own (borrowing it from library right now) because it’s full of very solid basic patterns that are insanely easy to modify, customize, etc to your liking. I think this type of thing is the best way to really learn crochet and so far I’m much more pleased with the book than I’d anticipated. These are my favorite kinds of books, the ones that at first glance you dismiss but then they surprise you again and again.

Go Ask Alice

If you have a daughter, she has to watch Tim Burton and Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. And you should watch it with her. And afterwards, you should probably discuss a lot of stuff in it. This version of Alice in Wonderland is not fluff– thank god. If you follow me at all, you are quite aware that Disney sort of drives me bonkers with their princesses and the insane images they are pushing onto our young girls. Alice flies in the face of it so viciously, I’m honestly shocked Disney went along with the ride. I’m also insanely grateful.

Tim Burton is legendary for being dark and that notoriety has made some parents wary of his Alice. No need. When you go watch Alice, forget the cartoon. If you’ve read the books I think you’ll be pleased. This Alice is much more in line with the way dreams really unfold– mashings of memories most recent, snippets of life distorted. And while I found this Wonderland to be insanely gorgeous and absolutely mesmerizing (especially in 3-D) the real reason I think this is a must-see is because of what Burton does with the character of Alice.

**SPOILER ALERT**

I do reveal the ending so if you’re already inclined to see Alice, stop here. But if you need convincing, you need to know what happens and why I think it’s important for our girls to see.

***************************************************************************

First of all, Alice is grown up which at first might be disappointing, but be patient, this is a worthwhile change.  Alice is independent of social norms and niceties, a typical no-no amongst Disney’s most popular princesses who almost always play nice. Later, Alice goes on a transformational journey (in line with the caterpillar)  from a doubtful and insecure girl (something easily identified with) to a girl decked in armor who steps forth to take the role of champion for a Queen tasked with the challenge of slaying a Jabberwocky (a dragon-esque nasty creature). Finally, you see the equivalent of marriage mandated as a punishment (complete with ball and chain imagery) and Alice not only refuses the “sensible” choice of marriage but goes into business– as a merchant’s apprentice who goes exploring.

For the first time ever, Disney gives us a movie with an almost anti-marriage message. Yes, the foundations were laid with the books– the Queen of HEARTS was always a villain, but Tim Burton blows it up with incredible mastery of details. And it’s a recognition of the fact that messages are conveyed directly and subtly that makes this movie so important for our princess-possesed daughters. Alice is not petulant at first but then finds her true love and all that nonsense. The message clearly is there is much more to life than marriage for a young woman. This is what Miss Independent is really about. It’s a message sorely overdue in the Disney arena.

My only dilemma with Alice is that I simply cannot confidently advocate taking a very young girl, such as my own three and a half year old daughter, to watch it. And yet, I’m conflicted because I believe that it is at her tender age where this sort of thing is necessary. It’s something that I am trying to come to terms with myself and if you have ideas, I would like to hear them. I know that if I did convince myself to take her, it would have to be the 2-D version for starters. I am also pretty sure that it should be something I go to with just her so that she has my individual attention. I know that there are parts that will frighten her (she is frightened by scenes in Snow White and Little Mermaid for instance) but I also believe there is much more good to this movie than bad. I’d like to hear from those of you who saw it regarding this aspect.

Hopefully, if you have been on the fence about this movie, my review will give you some enocouragement to give it a shot. It has a lot to say and I think we Moms need to listen and our daughters really do need alternatives to Princess fluff. As Jefferson Airplane famously said in their Alice in Wonderland song White Rabbit, “Feed your head.”

Fashion Photography: A Morbid Fairytale

Once upon a time, a woman had to rely on her basic good looks and some tricks up her sleeve: make-up, clothing, personality, and a good creative photographer. She was healthy, fit, and absolutely gorgeous. She knew what to wear and how to wear it.

Somewhere, things went wrong– really, terribly, horribly wrong. I’m not a fashion historian so I can’t sit here and tell you about when it started and who started it and why. But I am a mother of a daughter. And what I really am, is freaked out. I see it in myself, an average height girl who by all standard definitions is a skinny girl (I wear sizes 2 and 4 and even squeeze into an occasional 0 for instance). And yet, I’m uncomfortable in a bikini and am forever sucking my stomach in. At 122 pounds, I’m discouraged and trying to get myself to get back to a workout routine. Sure, I want to be a healthy person, but really I want to look amazing in a dress.

I know. There is something really wrong here. I try and convince myself that I really should be quite proud of my figure. Some times, I believe it. Most times though, I just can’t. There are ads everywhere with very young, very skinny, very “perfect” looking creatures. What I don’t understand is who on Earth chose underfed girls as the epitome of perfect and why on Earth the world embraced it.

We know, as educated adults, these girls are not perfect. They are quite the opposite as the career of a fashion model demands an underweight figure. Don’t try and argue this with me. I’m 5’4″ and 120 pounds. That’s fat in fashion. These girls are all 5’7″ and up and most of them stay under 110 pounds. That’s underweight. That’s being ill. If you’re ill, you’re not perfect. End of story. And, as if giving these girls eating disorders and chopping them up in surgery rooms isn’t enough, the image manufacturing process still hasn’t come to an end. In many ways, we’re only halfway there and we owe this to the dawning of technology.

Once that sick and disfigured (that’s what plastic surgery is- it disfigures your figure into another figure) girl has her heavily made-up, carefully posed photographs taken, it passes on to the hands of professionals. Their job: alter her some more into some bizarre idea of “perfect woman”. And only once they are done raising her cheekbones, shaving her waist, fixing her hair, ironing her skin, adding muscle tone, removing unwanted body hair, and so on and so on, only then is she delivered to the world on screens, buses, and glossy pieces of paper. Her image gets unleashed into the world like a virus. Every day. Every hour.

And we wonder why we’re sick.

Today, a UK study proposes putting disclaimers on airbrushed photos in an effort to educate our young, uneducated, and highly impressionable children that what they are looking at is hardly the real thing. I find it ironic that the one industry that pushes so heavily against knock-offs feeds its customers that very thing. These women are fakes.

Don’t tell me these freaks make the clothes look better. They don’t. And if they do, don’t tell me you’re designing clothes for “the modern woman”. You’re not. You’re designing clothes for walking hangers- sickly ones at that.

The fashion industry needs to get a spine. It needs to scrap this revolting fascination with “the faker the better” and go back to its roots. Designers, real designers, didn’t need anorexics and bulimics to sell their clothes. Instead, they designed for queens and princesses who were hardly sticks. Those fashions trickled down. Later with the dawn of Hollywood, they got probably as close as they have ever gotten to designing for “the real woman” when they designed for starlets. Bettie Page, Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn, Jackie O– don’t tell me clothes don’t look right on those women.

I don’t care who the designers were that started the whole obsession with so skinny you might as well be a skeleton– I’m interested in the designers that put a stop to it. Will someone please put an end to the madness so I don’t have to deal with warning labels on my photo spreads?

Originally published on MomsMiami Friday, February 26, 2010.

Cool Female Characters- Where are you?

She-Ra Princess of Power

Originally written on October 22, 2009.

Ana’s Princess Ring blog has really got my super cute panties in a bunch. Moms, we need to do something. I have a three year old girl. Of course, she loves princesses. And, because her favorite one is Princess Jasmine, I try and enjoy it. But, I have to be honest with you– there is something in the back of my head that just nags at me wondering, is this really ok?

Let’s play a game. I say a word and you jot down the first ten words/phrases you think of. Ready? Set?

PRINCESS!

1. Pink

2. Girl

3. Soft

4. Weak

5. Pretty

6. Prince

7. Damsel in distress

8. Castle

9. Clouds

10. Fluffy

Is this the stuff I want feeding into my precious daughter’s molding brain? When I think back to my childhood, and I think of toys and characters I think first and foremost of She-Ra. Then, Rainbow Brite, Jem, Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony, and Barbie. Correct me if I’m wrong but some of these are really different characters than Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Ariel, and Jasmine. As a matter of fact, it drives me absolutely NUTS that the three princesses Disney puts on absolutely everything are Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty– total pansies!

Cinderella is a maid who needs a fairy godmother to rescue her. Snow White? Where do I begin? A housekeeper for seven male dwarves who is stupid enough to eat something a stranger gives her and waits around in a glass box for some guy to kiss her. Sleeping Beauty? Another airhead and blonde to boot. She has to be hidden away until she’s 16 years old because she might be dumb enough to do something she shouldn’t (i.e. touch a spindle and DIE), but she falls in love over some crazy guy that sings and dances, touches the stupid thing anyways (ok fine she was under a spell but she wouldn’t have that problem if she wasn’t all woe-is-me over some dude she just met), and then has to wait for said dude to kiss her awake again.

She-Ra was a WARRIOR PRINCESS! She had a sword! She invoked the power of GREYSKULL. That is hardcore awesomeness!

Rainbow Brite? There were only like two guys there! And as a bonus, in this case, I do believe the only “Princess” on the show was a villain. Rainbow and her girls ran amok spreading colors everywhere! And they were happy! Without boys!

Jem was a freakin’ rock star! A real one not like that totally annoying Miley Cyrus. As a matter of fact, did you know the creator of Jem was a staff writer for GI Joe and Transformers? And isn’t it great that the main guy on the show was a total jerk?

These were cool characters. They were colorful and well-mixed. They were strong and independent women who rely heavily on their girlfriends when things got tough. By the way, did you notice how few pastels were present in these shows? It just seems to me that there is a really dangerous underlying theme with these Princesses. I guess I prefer a Princess doll in my house to a Bratz doll (completely forbidden) but where are the really cool characters? And have you noticed that with the Princesses, the “spunkier” ones get less exposure? I actually like Jasmine in that she’s pretty feisty AND has a gorgeous tan (like my daughter gets in the summers). Mulan goes to WAR. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get merchandise for those two? Why? Is it the leaders of corporations pushing images down to us or is it us telling them what we want to see by buying this merchandise instead of the other?

I don’t want a fluffy daughter with indulgent fantasies of living in a palace and waiting to be rescued. Do you?

If you know of any great female characters, please share. I just can’t feel good about the princess obsession. I don’t mind liking princesses as long as they’re just a part of her tastes. Christmas is, after all, around the corner. I’d like to see how few princesses I can get away with this year.

An event worth documenting

And no I'm not talking about the inauguration tomorrow like everyone else.

It was earlier this afternoon. I stayed home from work today with the kids. I have been doing laundry ALL day.

I had finished folding a load in time for the other one to buzz that it was ready and as I walked to the laundry room, I passed by Daughter.

My petite super cute mischeivous as hell two year old daughter was flattened against a wall holding a Star Wars blaster gun clearly hunting someone or something down. It amused me and I went on to the laundry room. As I was dumping hot clothes into the basket I hear a crash from the dining room Daughter was in two seconds ago.

And then I hear my super cute mischeivous as hell two year old daughter exclaim, "Aw shit!"

And then she called out, "Mom! "MOOOOM!"

And it suddenly dawned on me that I was cringing but I wasn't sure if I was cringing because there might very well be a broken mess in the dining room I'd need to clean up, or because my darling daughter had just exclaimed "Aw shit!" in a fashion that was too familiar for my own comfort, or because the way she was calling me sounded much more like a twelve year old than a two year old and it hurt my heart so much.

As for the mess, it turned out to be nothing more than an overturned bag of golf clubs. As for "Aw shit!" I promptly corrected her, "Aw shOOT!". And as for "MOM!" it really broke my heart and made me yearn for the days that I swear weren't that long ago when she'd call me "mama!" in a way that really completely melted my soul.