Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sharp Shooter vs. Sharp Tongue

Movie star good looks. Swarthy charm. Poised demeanor. Confident style. Inspiring discourse. Unfaltering courage.

We have seen this before and grasped for it in our darkest hour. Deja vu? I was but a growing fetus in my mother's belly when Bobby Kennedy was shot. My parents weren't even living in the United States then. Still, I know what that fateful moment meant. I grew up knowing the weight of the nation then and the gasps heard around the world. Indeed it was the weight of the world. We are oddly at that crossroad again.

I've been mulling over and steaming over the comments Hillary Clinton made about Robert Kennedy's assassination. The Kennedy family is coping with quite enough right now. Invoking the possibility of Obama's assassination due to Bobby Kennedy's June 1968 demise is downright cruel, reckless, twisted, and indicative of her nature during tough times. Someone else has articulated my venom much better, with more insight than vitriol. Thanks to Will for sharing this.
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Friday, May 23, 2008

00. The new 0.

So there are apparently enough women out there who are 5 feet tall (like I am) and 88 pounds (definitely not me) to warrant the fashion industry creating a size 00. Now this is not new, though it is newsworthy. I'm not mathy, in fact, I like to say that I'm the only Indian in the world who is bad at math and science. OK, so that schtick is old for those who know me. Nonetheless, while I was no Mathlete, I don't recall learning about a double 00 unless there was a 7 at the end. The integer preceding 0 is -1, right? So why don't we size those doll clothes made for hideously skinny women a -1? Oh, pardon me. I meant those women who are naturally petite. Wink. Wink. I suppose a size denoted by a negative number would carry a negative perception. Because we all know that the introduction of a size 00 is completely positive. I mean, now those skeletons have a place to shop aside from the little girls' department! Oh yeah! But let's face it, even the girls' department is looking more and more hoochie everyday.

Are women really skinny enough to warrant a size 00 or are clothing designers pulling a fast one on us, creating vanity sizing to boost our egos? Either way you look at it, the practice perpetuates unhealthy, unrealistic expectations. Thin does not equal beautiful. Let's get that straight.

I am 5 feet tall. 105 pounds, give or take that time of the month when I consume more chocolate than anything else in the food pyramid. I am naturally petite. Anything smaller is plain unsightly. Unhealthy. Unnatural. Yes, I have my mushy parts, my thighs are practically Siamese twins, my arms jiggle. I can't complain...well, not too much anyway.

The fashion industry has a long history of creating unreasonable physical "norms" in our society. Girls and women of all ages fall into the trap. Present company included. I lived in a sorority house in college that had a designated puking bathroom. There was a silver spoon on the back of the toilet that the girls used to gag themselves. They'd clean up the spoon and lay it back down for the next bulimic victim. It was a secret sisterhood within a sisterhood. Gross on so many levels. I was horrified when I learned of this practice, and the house mother and sorority president turned the other way. I later found out that the sorority president was a frequent spooner. No wonder her figure looked like that of a 10-year old boy.

My childhood friend Lisa died at age 16. She was always taller than the rest of us, though being a grown woman of 5 feet tall, you can imagine that everyone was taller than me my whole life. She was chunky, but in that baby fat way that you knew she'd outgrow. I moved away and lost touch with Lisa. We were living in different cities during those gawky, confusing, teenage years when we were learning to understand our new bodies and struggling to get to know and like ourselves. Apparently Lisa's baby fat wasn't melting away with puberty so she took control of the situation. That's when she became anorexic. Severely so. After a long battle that left her body weak, decrepit, and unrecognizable, Lisa's heart gave out.

This, my friends, is what anorexia looks like. It is not sexy. Or pretty. Or desirable.

That was my first brush with death. And my first brush with eating disorders and the battle to be thin. Granted, I have been naturally thin my whole life, even being force fed protein shakes for a while to try to keep weight on my tiny frame. Ironically, I was downing calorie laden shakes at the same time Lisa was starving herself 200 miles away. One in the name of health, the other in the name of vanity.

Lisa's ideals of pretty and thin were from 1978.

Fast forward 30 years to what our little girls (and grown women) see now. Bratz dolls, Victoria's Secret Pink ads, Britney, Lindsay, Lauren, Miley, the list goes on. Even DQ has gotten into the act. An entire generation of girls worships celebrities and tries to emulate their outrageous diet fads and styles. Seriously, we're subjecting our children to unrealistic ideals from such a young, tender age. A 5-year old girl should not be worrying about her big belly, as a friend's daughter does. Such influences are coming from the flippant ways we degrade our own bodies, the flurry of inescapable marketing messages, the Disney princesses with waists the size of my upper arm, and those damn celebrity rags.

Look in any catalog, magazine, billboard, movie. You'll see women who don't relish the pure joy of butter oozing on hot bread or giggles over strawberries and homemade vanilla ice cream. What's worse is those women likely smoke to keep the weight off. And we pay them TOP DOLLAR for it. Be thin, be pretty, make a shitload of money. Be smart, be healthy, eek out a living. The pretty girl visions our children conjure up are detrimental to them both physically and emotionally. Lisa starved herself to be thin, simply a manifestation of larger, deeper self-esteem issues. It's our responsibility to arm our children with confidence, self-worth, and dignity.

What messages are we sending to girls these days? Are we encouraging them to be smart, assertive, passionate, powerful? Or pretty, demure, silent, passive? Isn't it our responsibility to society, to our girls and boys, to reinvent the definition of beauty and femininity? To establish the difference between "fit" and "skinny?" Sure, there's a severe problem with obesity in our country. The focus should be on FIT, regardless which side of the weight coin you land on.

A size 00 is an outrage. And that's coming from a girl who wore a 0 until she bore two healthy children. I've come to grips with never wearing a 0 again. I donated all those clothes, with no remorse, tears, or regrets for not having done more crunches or time on the elliptical machine. And I'm cool with that. My body carried and delivered two healthy children. Nothing defines beautiful more perfectly.
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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Bad Mom Trying

Am I a bad mother if....?

I let Deal wear sunshine yellow socks to school with his gray New Balance sneakers?

I add a wee bit of sugar to my kids' cinnamon toast in the morning?

I let Bird and Deal see me naked through the glass shower door?

I use the TV as my own personal mute button to make my kids settle down so I can (pick one): breathe, pee, poop, cook dinner, check email, bid on a Trina Turk dress on eBay, order new sheets from Pottery Barn, call a friend, pet the cat, shut myself in my closet?

I tell my kids when their behavior disappoints me?

I scream at my kids just shy of letting the f-bomb drop?

I pretend to be asleep when Deal peeks into our room in the morning before 7:00AM?

I look forward to my nanny time?

I sometimes want my children to STOP. TOUCHING. ME.?

I pretend to have to go to the bathroom just to get 3 seconds of peace?

I let my kids eat Spiderman fruit snacks before dinner?

I rarely (pick one): vacuum, dust, mop, sweep, change sheets between cleaning lady visits?

I don't feel guilty for working part-time?

I don't feel guilty for missing bed time to meet friends for drinks instead?

I don't feel guilty for not feeling guilty?

I pick the books at the library that have the fewest words?

I nap during a movie at the theater, after being overstuffed with popcorn?

I don't make home baked birthday cakes, cookies, or other treats?

I don't keep a scrapbook?

I have more pictures of Bird than Deal?

I sneak fries while my kids eat fruit?

I will never make a home made Halloween costume?

I already hate of my sons' future girlfriends?

I forgot for a wee moment that I had kids while away on my girls' weekend?

I don't want to be on the PTA?

I kiss my husband in front of my kids?

I don't tolerate Raffi or other such kid tunes in my car?

I don't say bed time prayers?

I am saving for my kids' future therapy?

I stopped trying to be perfect?

Let's face it. I can't compete with the uber moms of the world. You know who you are. I used to spite you. Then I was jealous, with a hint of envy. Then I became disinterested, thinking that if I pretended you didn't exist you would go away. Now I surrender. I stopped caring. Not about Bird and Deal. About competing.

Trying to be perfect, or fit someone else's version of it anyway, sucked when we were in 8th grade. It sucked more in high school. It still sucked in the sorority days of college. I figured at the ripe age of 39 I'd be over the Queen Bee drama of womanhood, motherhood, peoplehood. I am done. I can't and won't compete. I'm in a good place, even if that means being a not-so-great mom once in a while.

How about you? Tell me your shortcomings and victories.
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