Posted in Beauty, Explaining the Strange Behavior, Family, Women

Fat Girls Drive Slow Cars


Tis the season for car commercials.

There is a Lexus ad that seems to come on every commercial break, and since we’ve been iced in and watching a lot of TV, I’ve seen it a few thousand times.  A gorgeous brunette works at a sewing machine, making giant bows for cars.  A decent looking man drives one of said cars.

I don’t know what men think about when they see these ads, but I caught myself having a thought that gave me pause.  After wondering if people really buy each other cars for Christmas, I found myself thinking that if I were thinner and more chic, I could have a fancy car, but as long as I was overweight, I would never so much as see the inside of the dealership.

It only takes a couple of seconds to rifle through a few hundreds thoughts, so I went from “Do people really buy each other cars for Christmas,” to, “If I lost weight, I could work in The Industry again, and make better money, and buy a car like that,” to, “If I were thinner and dressed better–maybe had a few enhancements done back in the day, I might have married into a car like that*,” to, “As long as I am overweight, I will never have a Lexus.”

Funnily, I realized I have that conversation in my head about a lot of things.  From jewelry and underwear, to cars–apparently–I’ve got it in my head that until I am 5’10”, and wear a size 4, I will never have that bracelet, that bra, or that Lexus.  The bad news is that while I quit growing vertically in 1992, and never topped 5’3″, my width fluctuates almost seasonally.  I’m fattest in the summer, in case you wondered.  I don’t like to move around in the heat.

Anyway, my point is that I really thought I was immune to all of that!  I really thought I had myself together when it came to body image (because I am totally cute), and it wasn’t until I heard this back-of-my-head voice, matter-of-factly (and it was!  it was so blase.  “You are overweight, and you will never have X, Y, Z until you look better.”  Not shaming, not lecturing, just, “These are the facts, ma’am.”) telling me I wasn’t good enough, that I realized how insidious the issue is.

I did not think, “If I go back to school and study X, I can get a higher paying job doing Y, and I can buy that car.”  My immediate thought was that if I quit eating for a few months, had some air bags installed in my fender, and put on more lipstick, I could end up in that car.  Yes, because I could get paid more as an actor, but all based on my looks.  Not based on talent.  Not based on ability.  Based on zero body fat and fake boobs.  I’d be hungry, but I’d be in a car that supermodels drive.  (Do supermodels drive?)

I also ran through the cost of the plastic surgery it would require to get me up to code, and that little voice in my head said, “You have to spend money to make money.”

I was thinking all that and the trick is that I HAVE EXCELLENT SELF ESTEEM.  What about the women and girls who don’t?

Later in the day, I came across this video of a lecture by Jean Kilbourne, in which she discusses how the media reduces women to Things in advertising, and how that affects so much more than just self image.

It’s really worth the five minute watch.

Meanwhile, I am busy deconstructing two things:  Why I feel like I have to look a certain way to have certain things, and why I feel like certain things equal a better life.  (Because I am totally cute AND I love my Saturn.  That Saturn is an awesome vehicle, and I wasn’t interested in trading it in for a Mercedes when I had the employee option to do it very inexpensively.)

Meanwhile, meanwhile, I would not trade all the luxury items in the world for how it feels to sit on my sofa with Thor in my lap, and B snoring beside me, watching the Eagles destroy the Lions in the middle of a blizzard.  Maybe nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, but nothing feels as good as my life–and my life comes with some cushion.

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in Women, Women Worth Knowing

Women Worth Knowing: Meet Suzanne


Suzanne is one of the first GAWBs I met–and well met, too, as she’s a co-founder–and everything about her makes me happy.  She is a sheer delight.  She was one of the Beta readers for TIARA TROUBLE, and I certainly appreciated her help.  When you finish reading this little introduction to her, please pop over to THOUGHTS IN PROGRESS for a review, and to Storm Goddess Book Reviews for a review and an excerpt.  But first!  Meet Suzanne.

She's just so cute!!
She’s just so cute!!

Name: Suzanne D’Aunoy Meehle

Age: 46

Job Title: Attorney (The Meehle Law Firm) / Vice President and Evil Genius (Grown Ass Woman Brigade)

Industry: Law / Non-profit

1.  Who are you? I’m a do-gooder.
2.  What do you love most about your life? My marriage. I’ve got an amazing man who supports all my crazy ambition and ridiculous pursuits.
3. What do you love most about your work? I get to help people be their best selves. No, really! My law firm exclusively supports small business. And GAWB supports women.
4.  Describe your family: it’s just me, my husband Tim and our dog Legal. Tim is a web developer. Legal is a lab/beagle mix. I’m also extraordinarily close with my siblings, Beth, Carla and Lester.
5. What does the first hour of your day look like? I go check the calendar and email in bed. Sad but true. Then I get up, lace up and go for a run.
6. The last hour? I finally put my laptop away for the night, do some stretches, go brush my teeth, and go to bed. Sounds pretty pathetic.
7. What makes you feel successful? When it all gets done by the end of the day.

8. What brings you joy? Running. My husband. My dog. GAWB. Not necessarily in that order.
9.  Which women do you most admire? Women who have been successful on their own terms. Arianna Huffington. Hillary Clinton. Condaleeza Rice. Sandra Day O’Connor.
10. What do you like best about your closest friend? Falling asleep and waking up next to him.
11. What do you like best about yourself? I’m strong. And fairly weird.
12. What advice would you give to boys about girls? You don’t need to own her. Just be her friend.
13. What is the best advice anyone has ever given you? “It’s ok if you don’t want to go to grad school. There’s always law school.”
14. How do you overcome adversity? Power through. There’s no other way to get to the other side of it but through it.
15.  How do you want to be remembered? As my own woman.
Posted in Women

Hey, Girl! Can you read?


It is International Girl Day!  Happy International Girl Day, y’all!

Never heard of it before?  Well, here’s what it’s all about:

On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare 11 October as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world. For its second observance, this year’s Day will focus on “Innovating for Girls’ Education”.

The fulfilment of girls’ right to education is first and foremost an obligation and moral imperative. There is also overwhelming evidence that girls’ education, especially at the secondary level, is a powerful transformative force for societies and girls themselves: it is the one consistent positive determinant of practically every desired development outcome, from reductions in mortality and fertility, to poverty reduction and equitable growth, to social norm change and democratization.

While there has been significant progress in improving girls’ access to education over the last two decades, many girls, particularly the most marginalized, continue to be deprived of this basic right. Girls in many countries are still unable to attend school and complete their education due to safety-related, financial, institutional and cultural barriers. Even when girls are in school, perceived low returns from poor quality of education, low aspirations, or household chores and other responsibilities keep them from attending school or from achieving adequate learning outcomes. The transformative potential for girls and societies promised through girls’ education is yet to be realized.

Recognizing the need for fresh and creative perspectives to propel girls’ education forward, the 2013 International Day of the Girl Child will address the importance of new technology, but also innovation in partnerships, policies, resource utilization, community mobilization, and most of all, the engagement of young people themselves.

All UN agencies, Member States, civil society organizations, and private sector actors have potential tools to innovate for and with girls to advance their education. Examples of possible steps include:

  • Improved public and private means of transportation for girls to get to school—from roads, buses, mopeds, bicycles to boats and canoes;
  • Collaboration between school systems and the banking industry to facilitate secure and convenient pay delivery to female teachers and scholarship delivery to girls;
  • Provision of science and technology courses targeted at girls in schools, universities and vocational education programmes;
  • Corporate mentorship programmes to help girls acquire critical work and leadership skills and facilitate their transition from school to work;
  • Revisions of school curricula to integrate positive messages on gender norms related to violence, child marriage, sexual and reproductive health, and male and female family roles;
  • Deploying mobile technology for teaching and learning to reach girls, especially in remote areas.

Tweets about “#dayofthegirl”

For more information on UNICEF’s initiatives and activities for the Day please visit: http://www.unicef.org/gender/gender_66021.html
For more information on UN Women’s initiatives and activities for the Day please visit:
http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/girl-child-day-compilation/#Message

Please take a moment and think about the girls and women in your life.  Think about how much harder life would have been without access to even basic education.  Think how much better life could have been with even more access to affordable higher education.  Now think about how much you would have appreciated someone helping you, your mother, your sister, your aunt, your BFF, your grandma, your daughter, your partner, and consider what you can do to help little girls learn to read, write, balance their own checkbooks–be something more than at the mercy of those who bar them from learning.

I know I take my literacy for granted.  International Girl’s Day reminds me that for every book I own, there are hundreds of little girls who are being told they aren’t good enough, worthy enough, male enough to merit an education.  It reminds me that I need to help as I am able.

What can you do?

Posted in Advice, Counting Blessings, Explaining the Strange Behavior, Friends of Mine, Howling Sea Lane, Inside Lane, Lancient History, Religion, Women

What I Would Tell a Daughter About Selfies


Since I’m getting emails and PMs about the girl side of things, I’ll address the girl side of things here.

So, I used to teach Sunday School for 6th Grade girls.  When I took on the responsibility, I thought I was going to be–I don’t know what I thought I was going to be teaching, but it was NOT sex.  I started reading through the lesson book, and halfway through BLAMMO sex/pregnancy/abortion.  Uh…

I worried about a few things:

  1. I would accidentally warp these children.
  2. I would say something that would make concerned parents take up pitchforks against me.
  3. That the church hadn’t thoroughly vetted my thoughts on sex/pregnancy/abortion before handing their 12 year old girls over to me.
  4. What if one of the girls had been bad-touched, or was already sexually active and I said something that made her feel like a monster?

I worried most about the pitchforks.

At the time, I was single, had never been married, had no children of my own, and  hadn’t been all the way around the block, so-to-speak.  I had been bad-touched and was sensitive to that, and I had ducked down some of the block’s back alleys.  I knew enough to be dangerous.

I knew enough to know that anything I said, could and would affect these girls for a long time, and I didn’t want to hurt any of them, and I didn’t want my words haunting them in regard to choices they might make in the future.  We all do stupid things sooner or later.  I wanted my words to be building blocks for them, not stumbling blocks.

So…I didn’t talk specifically about sex/pregnancy/abortion.  I talked about choices, redemption and the Proverbs 31 Woman.

Because here’s how I feel:  My job as an adult guiding children (or now, as a parent) is to help them learn to navigate rough waters by teaching them to reason, think, and adjust course.  My job isn’t to give them marching orders (as a parent, my job is definitely giving marching orders along with instruction on the how and why.)

So, first I wanted those girls to know that they had autonomy, and they got to choose their futures.  I wanted them to understand that good choices led to better futures, and good choices were things like eating well (I tried to touch on eating disorders because you never know), getting good exercise (because healthy bodies help promote healthy minds), doing your homework and reading for pleasure (because intelligent, educated women have a better chance to make good choices), working toward a goals in small increments (a good test, a good report card, honor roll, head of the class, etc.), and having a hobby or something fun to do, just for the love of it (because well-rounded women have their own interests.)  And, I told them to make good friends because good friends are the best things in life, and good friends will keep you out of trouble.  I have excellent friends, by the way.

Next, I wanted those girls to know that if they slipped up somewhere, it wasn’t the end of the world.  Get a bad grade?  Study harder/ask for help/do better next time.  Hurt someone’s feelings?  Apologize/learn from your mistake/don’t do it again.  Eat a whole cake by yourself?  Oof/see above.

And I told them that when they were focused on proper nutrition, their health, their studies, their hobbies, their goals, and their friendships, everything else would fall into place.  When they were well-rounded people, they would attract the right kinds of attention.  Predators are afraid of self-confident girls.  Losers don’t try to smack around Margaret Thatcher or Hillary Clinton.  No one crosses Wonder Woman–and no one ever tries to butt grab her, no matter how hot her pants are.

Then, I told them that wanting to have sex, or having sex didn’t make you a bad person.  (Pitchforks!)  I told them that purposefully hurting other people was what made a bad person.  I read them the definition of the Proverbs 31 Woman, and asked them, first, if she seemed pretty awesome.  She’s got her own house, runs a staff, dabbles in real estate, has a garden, has a fabulous wardrobe, people respect and like her… Sounds pretty good to me.  I asked them if that was a woman who seemed focused on her looks, her hair, her boyfriend, or her popularity, and I asked them to consider what it would take to have your own home/business/amazing closet.

We talked about the choices you need to make to be a spectacular, independent woman, and we talked about what might set you off course.  I told them that is why they should wait to have sex.  Because they had dreams, and plans, and goals, and wanted houses, and cars, and jobs, and careers, and having a baby before you were ready would mean putting all that on hold, or putting it aside all together.  And, I told them that an STI can really slow you down, or kill you, too.

I wanted them to understand I wasn’t trying to protect their chastity.  I was trying to teach them how to protect their ability to make choices.  Having sex too soon can rob you of your autonomy, and rob you of choices. (Then I quit teaching Sunday School because I was mentally exhausted.  I went and taught Adult Singles, thinking that because I was one, it would be easier.  Ha!)

That’s what I would tell my own daughter, repeatedly.  And when the hormones kicked in and she couldn’t hear me through the throbbing in her loins, there would be that little voice in the back of her head saying, “Guh!  I know Harry Styles is so hot!  But I don’t want to be just his back-up singer.  I want my own band!  And he can fall in love with me because I am so awesome and independent, not just because I’m fawning all over him.”

I know that because that’s what kept me off the tour buses I got invited onto.

I didn’t need AIDs or a baby.

So, when it came down to selfies, I would ask my daughter why she wanted to take them, and if they helped her further her goals/dreams/aspirations.  If they didn’t, I’d ask her what she thought they did do.  We’d talk about it, and if she didn’t come the right conclusions, I’d take away her access to cameras and stuff some cotton in my ears to muffle the wailing.  Because I’d still be the parent and you don’t let a kid drive on the wrong side of the street just because it seems like a good idea to them.

 

 

Posted in A Day in the Life, Explaining the Strange Behavior, Howling Sea Lane, Women

Sarcasm, Slut Shaming, and Teenage Girls


I read a little article this morning and it made me very sad for girls.  You know, it’s hard enough to navigate junior high and high school, navigate puberty, sex, and sexuality among your peers.  It’s even worse when you have grown women sneering at you from the vantage of 30+ years of experience in relationships.  Do you remember 13?  13 was a beast, y’all.

This mother was addressing little girls who post provocative selfies on Facebook, noting that while her little girl notices the background of their frilly bedrooms, her teenaged sons notice that they aren’t wearing bras.  Clearly, I am paraphrasing, but this mother asks these girls to please put themselves away so that her boys (and other boys) don’t get the wrong idea about them–she strongly, and facetiously suggests that the girls want the boys to think about their brains, not their bodies, and tells them that once a boy has seen a girl body, that’s all he’ll ever see*.

The tone is full of sarcasm and shame, and the message is clear: You are responsible for my son’s attitudes toward women**.

Can we agree on something?  Your daughter’s picture of herself in a bra isn’t going to brain damage my son, or turn him into a raging sex maniac***.  If he hasn’t already been brain damaged by walking through the mall with me, your 15-year-old’s selfie isn’t going to break what Adriana Lima and the other VIctoria’s Secret Angels have left untouched.

And let’s agree on something else:  Your daughter isn’t responsible for my son’s thoughts.  Your daughter isn’t responsible for my son’s sexuality.  Your daughter isn’t responsible for how my son thinks about, talks about, or treats women.

I am.

I am, and his father is.

We, his parents, are responsible for teaching him about respect.  We are responsible for teaching him to respect your daughter, whether she’s waving her nalgas in his face, or wearing a burka.  We are responsible for teaching him that no matter how a girl is dressed, posed, or primped, she is a human being, and she is to be treated like a person, not a collection of parts.  We are responsible.  I hold us responsible, not your daughter.

Not the media.

Not Hugh Hefner.

Not Pat Robertson.

Not Anna Wintour.

Not Miley Cyrus.

Not Facebook.

Certainly not the Discovery Channel.

I am responsible for talking to my son about what it means to look at a beautiful girl and see a person, not a chew toy.

I am responsible for talking to my son about how just because something is offered, doesn’t mean he needs to dip his wick into it.

I am responsible for making sure my son understands the difference between mutually respectful sexual relationships, and being a douchebag.

I am responsible for making sure my son knows to treat your daughter with compassion, empathy, and consideration.

I am responsible for making sure my son understands that even when a girl is showing him her breasts, she might be trying to show him her heart–and it is my job to make sure he understands how to know the difference and how to handle it.

I have a lot of work to do because sex and sexuality are complex.  I’ve been married for nearly 10 years, in a committed, monogamous relationship for nearly 12, have been interacting romantically since I was 15-years-old, and I am still figuring it out.  I still don’t know everything.  I’m still surprised by things.  Why would I expect a teenage girl to know what I know?  Why would I scorn a child who is trying to figure it out?  Why would I condescend to someone who not only has to go through puberty, but also has to go through puberty with the internet sitting right there?

More, why would I expect a child to understand all the nuances of provocative behavior?  There is a vast gulf between what it means in the head of a child who is showing you her bra, and a grown woman doing the same thing.  There is a collection of experience, education, and learned understanding that happens when I flash you–a kiddo doesn’t have that.  She might think she knows what it means to titillate, but she can’t possibly begin to know.  She’s just playing house. She’s just modeling behavior she’s been told is appropriate as she walks through the mall.

Why would I try to make her ashamed?

I wouldn’t.

Because I’m too busy raising my son.

When she comes over to my house, I am going to treat your daughter with respect.  If she’s got her bits out on Facebook, I might ask you if you’re aware because that’s what concerned parents and Chris Hansen do.  I’m going to make you aware so that you can protect your daughter from predators, but I’m not going to call out your daughter in front of the world to embarrass her into putting on a one-piece.  I won’t bully your child.

I’m going to make you one more promise, and I want you to hold me to it:  I’m not going to call any of your daughters little tramps or question their morality because I’m going to remember that puberty turns girls into little sex maniacs, too.  Boys aren’t the only ones whose brains go on holiday between 13 and 23.  I might question your parenting if Little Miss shows up at my door in a tube top and hot pants, but I am going to remember back to when I was Little Miss.

Let’s be good to our kids, and to each other’s kids.  And let’s be good to each other.

 

*This attitude irritates the bejeezus out of me.  It suggests that boys are too stupid to separate BOOBIES from anything else.  While there are certainly a bunch of morons who can’t see the forest for the trees, it’s an intellect issue, not a gender issue.  Plenty of women out there who can’t get past that hot chick’s glorious hips to see that she got her job through hard work.

**Meanwhile, after calling out girls for posing in towels, she has posted several pictures of her sons in various states of undress, flexing on the beach.  Because if you post beautiful, half-naked pictures of your toned, tanned, attractive children for public consumption on the world wide web it is okay.  That’s art.  But if you post beautiful, half-naked pictures of yourself on your own private Facebook page, that is not okay.  That’s dirty.  Or, am I misunderstanding?

***Puberty will do that whether, or not he ever sees a nipple.  Trust.