Pretty

I was inspired recently when I read this article by Lisa Bloom, entitled “How to Talk to Little Girls.”

A few quick quotes: “This week ABC News reported that nearly half of all three- to six-year-old girls worry about being fat.”

“Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. “

“As our cultural imperative for girls to be hot 24/7 has become the new normal, American women have become increasingly unhappy. What’s missing? A life of meaning, a life of ideas and reading books and being valued for our thoughts and accomplishments.”

Let me begin by saying it’s okay to tell little girls they’re beautiful. We all need to hear that from time to time.

But should it be the first thing you say to a little girl when you see them? Should it be the primary thing you compliment them on?

Don’t you look pretty in that gorgeous dress?

Your hair is so beautiful; I wish mine would curl like that!

I agree with the article: this sets girls up to think that being beautiful is the most important thing. The media says so. That pink aisle at the grocery store full of flawless, perfectly formed dolls says so. And we confirm beauty’s importance with our words when we make that the sole criteria for compliments to little girls.

Kids listen to us, by the way. Scary, I know.

Adult women, you know what I’m talking about. We flat iron, makeup, compare ourselves to other women, and beat our brains out trying to be pretty. It’s stupid, and we know that. I’ve done it.

But regardless of how long we primped and preened in front of the mirror that morning, when we see a mirror in the afternoon or evening, how many of us greet that image with a disgusted face and an “UGH”?

I’ve done it. I’ve witnessed others doing it. And it isn’t pretty.

So what can we do about this?

It’s in the article. With the little kiddos, try to actively engage them in conversations that don’t involve clothes, hair, or being pretty. Likes, dislikes, that sort of thing.

And with the adult women in your life (this goes for ladies and gents, here), compliment their intelligence, their insights, their kindness, their ingenuity, their talents.

And sure, tell them they’re beautiful. It’s not like it’s WRONG to do that. Like I said, it’s a nice thing to hear.

But not the most important. Not by a long shot.

ADDENDUM:

I felt compelled to add this short video where Dustin Hoffman discusses some revelations he had while preparing for his cross-dressing role in “Tootsie.” He discusses the ridiculous standards of beauty that women feel they must live up to, and how he feels he was “brainwashed” by society into having unhealthy standards for female beauty. It serves as a pretty brilliant reminder that we must be very careful about the messages we send to the women, young and older, in all our lives. A lot of you have seen this on Facebook already, but if you haven’t, I urge you to give it a watch.

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Sometimes churches are weird and I don’t get it

Sometimes I read back over my posts to just get a look at where I’ve been with my past thought processes, and then I compare them to where I am now. I also like to see what it says about me as a whole.

Mercy, it sure makes me look nicer than I am.

But aside from that, I’ve been interested at how it’s chronicled my spiritual journey for the last two years or so. Granted, it doesn’t tell the whole story – I mean, who says EVERYTHING they think on the internets?

Okay, some people do. And they look kind of stupid. So I try not to look stupid (I’ll admit to being kind of vain, though).

Anyhow, to the point – sometimes you discover that you don’t think something you used to think.

From this blog, November 8, 2011:

“Like I wrote on Facebook yesterday, some people think that churches are too patriarchal, while at the same time, some assert that they cater too much to women. While I agree that churches do cater a lot to women (not necessarily on purpose, but they tend to be more emotionally oriented), I don’t feel “oppressed by a patriarchy” at church.

And when people take Bible verses out of context to tell me what women should and shouldn’t do, I ignore it. Because I can think for myself.”

I still love that last sentence. But as for not feeling “oppressed by a patriarchy,” well…hm.

Oppressed directly, no. That’s probably too strong a word. But there’s some weird stuff going on that I’ve noticed since writing that blog. I just never noticed it before because, well, I was used to it. So no, not really oppressed on a personal level…buuuuut…

But when I look up at a church platform and see mostly men, or when I look at a church directory and see women in charge of only women’s ministries or kids, I get twitchy. I feel underrepresented.

Another thing I’ve noticed:

Church directories where women are in charge of things (woo!), but they are called “directors,” while men in similar positions of leadership are called “pastors” (huh?).

Why?

They’ve put women in positions of substantial leadership; why not go that last extra step and call them what they are? They are acting as pastors. But they don’t get the title. Is it semantics? Is it to stave off controversy? I don’t know. But if it is the latter, then it is downright cowardly.

I wish things were different. Maybe someday they will be.

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Help

I want to keep this short, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for awhile now.

I should preface this by saying that I’m really addressing Christians here, so I’ll be coming from that perspective. And I’m nervous to write about this subject, but like I said, I feel like it’s time.

Here goes: Christians, if we are going to be anti-abortion, we need to consider the fact that we then have a responsibility to be really and truly pro-life.

This means advocating for and supporting programs and resources that will help to provide medical care and support for women who find themselves in the position of having to make such a decision.

It is unconscionable to say to the terrified sixteen year old who has no idea what to do: “Hey, don’t have an abortion!” if you are unwilling to lift a finger to help her.

A teacher at my school once had a baby shower for a courageous student who decided to keep her child. This teacher was criticized by some parents for her generous behavior.

This teacher was exhibiting the generous spirit of Christ, plain and simple.

Let’s do the same.

Give $5 or $10 a month even to an organization of your choice. Pocket change to save a life and help support a new mom. Places like this: http://www.portlandprc.org/home

Also consider helping to fund grants to families who would like to adopt: http://www.lifesongfororphans.org/adoption-funding/

That’s pretty much all I had to say. I implore you to think about it.

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Lens

Long time, no blog. Well, there are a few reasons for that:

  1. Lazy. Lazy lazy lazy.
  2. I’m writing some other things, and fiction takes a completely different type of emotional energy.
  3. I also have a pretty complex screening system for subjects that I will write about, and no ideas have really made it through that screening system recently. A lot of stuff hits the screen and bounces off, though.

 

So, here we are. I had a thought today that made it through the screen – it’s a short one, but I thought it was worth sharing:

There are mindsets and there are lenses.  

A mindset, in my view, is more like an ideology, a set of beliefs that guides how we navigate our lives. But what I want to talk about are our lenses:

I think of a lens as a stage in life that informs how we interpret the world, not necessarily how we act upon it.

Example: As a student, I interpreted the world through the “student” lens. This lens dictated my concerns, my goals, my schedule, and my peer group. I viewed the world as a student would: the endless possibilities, optimism, and excitement.

There are married lenses, single lenses, parent lenses, grandparent lenses, sibling lenses, grief lenses, and even subsets of these lenses.

  1. New wife lens
  2. New husband lens
  3. New parent lens
  4. Parent for the third time lens (quite different, so I hear)
  5. Early 20s single lens
  6. High school student lens
  7. New employee lens
  8. Retiree lens

You get the idea. So why am I writing this?

It’s just something we need to be mindful of as we interact. I certainly need to remember this. Let’s not be dismissive – granted, we will probably fail now and then. But let’s try.

For example…

Married people: We need to not be dismissive of the single lens. Which means that we don’t treat it like a cancer that maybe people will be someday delivered from. Single people are doing just fine.

Single people: Married people sometimes know stuff, too. Don’t get disgusted with us just because we are sometimes incredibly annoying. Okay, go ahead and get disgusted, but don’t throw things. Please.

Parents: Not everybody loves children. That’s okay. Some people may choose to never have any. That’s also okay.

People who aren’t parents: Kids are cool. Chill. They won’t ruin your life. In fact, they can immeasurably enrich it.

And so on.
And remember, a lens isn’t a mindset. It’s a period in time, a fact, and sometimes, they overlap. Sometimes, they last for the duration of a person’s life – after all, a parent never stops being a parent.  

Just some food for thought.

What are your lenses right now?

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Fun fact

Although I’ve used the word “asparagus” in my blog and Twitter handle, I don’t actually like asparagus (asparagi?) all that much.

They’re kinda fibrous-ey. 

I just like the way the word sounds. Asparagus. Say it out loud and you’ll see what I mean. 

Now that I’ve cleared that up, back to the short story I’m working on today. 

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On babies

This post will come off cranky.

Believe me, I don’t mean it that way.

To those of you who clicked on this link hoping to see some sort of announcement, I hate to disappoint you, but no, I’m not pregnant.

And I know that once I have a baby I will love it and hug it and call it George. Well, maybe not George, but you know, I’ll do all that mushy baby stuff.

But this post is really just another confessional from the depths of my blackened soul:

I don’t like babies.

Don’t get me wrong; I like your baby. I like holding it and talking to it and giving it back to you. Your baby is beautiful and lovely and special, and I’m really not being sarcastic. Babies are beautiful miracles.

It’s just that I’m glad it’s your baby, and that I can go to bed and go to sleep and stay in bed all night and not have to get up to feed said baby.

This is one of those things that makes me feel weird among women.

I think there’s an expectation that getting married means you want babies. And that time will make you want babies. And that some sort of clock inside you will tell you when to MAKE THE BABIES. But not everybody is like that.

Don’t get me wrong, it is PERFECTLY OKAY to be like that. I am not dissing it. If you want babies, have the babies.

But even though Ben and I do want to have a few kids at some point (no, not now), I don’t think there will ever be a moment where all of a sudden I’m like HOLY CRAP CLOCK TICKING MUST HAVE ALL THE BABIES NOW ZOMG. Just not me.

Also, I happen to know for a fact that there are those among you who have borne a child who don’t actually really love babies or cute little clothes or fuzzy little baby toys or any of that. You love your kid, sure, but you’re not really a “mommy” type. Your blood curdles at the sight of a minivan and you don’t make your own baby wipes.

I’d like to formally use my authority as a fellow human being to absolve you of any guilt you feel regarding that. Go ahead and buy those baby wipes, go ahead and dream of the day when your littlest will be out of diapers and you won’t have to wash poop off your hands anymore. Dream.

Anyway, I’m not really sure what it was that prompted me to write this, but maybe it’s a piece of the whole being-comfy-with-my-identity thing. I mean, I love plenty of classically “girly” things, like pedicures, cute clothes, hair stuff, etc.

But I also love science fiction, space ships, movies with explosions (but only if they have good, thoughtful characters), theology, talking about random abstract ideas, and computer games. And I would say that these things are much more reflective of my identity than the previous list. I also don’t salivate over babies.

So maybe this is just my way of saying “Hi there, world. I’m weird. But I’m okay with that.”

And who knows?

Maybe one day I’ll wake up WANTING TO HAVE ALL THE BABIES.

It could happen. Probably not, but it could happen.

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How to look smart on the Internets

I know I don’t really have a leg to stand on today with regards to being accurate on the Internet (earlier today I lamented on Facebook about our temping leftover “upcakes”), but this kind of needs to be said:

If a pic or an infographic comes around on Facebook or Twitter and it just so perfectly and conveniently supports your point of view that you feel you just HAVE to post it, take a moment.

Do some fact checking.

Run it through snopes.com.

Google.

And then, if the facts appear to be correct, post it. If not, then please, please don’t.

Because if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. And posting stuff that isn’t true makes you look like a silly head.

Also, proofread. Because posting about “upcakes” will also make you look like a silly head.

Unless, of course, you are referring to this UK baker who apparently makes hypoallergenic treats.

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