Sunday, April 28, 2013

I Have Had Dreams

I have had dreams. As everyone does - or those with hope, at least. I've had grand, wild dreams of unattainable opulence and shameful disregard for the prudent. The dreams of my younger self were fantastic and as I grew, exponentially so. I have had dreams so far away from my living days I could giggle to myself that I could even imagine such purple and gold.

And then I had you. And I realized, I never even knew how to dream.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I'm Fat and Ugly and Dove Knows It

The Dove “Real Beauty” campaign is something different in advertising. An April 18th article by Erin Keane in asserts otherwise. 

In the article, Ms. Keane offers this observation of a Dove “Real Beauty” ad: “since the target demographic for this ad is clearly women over 35 with access to library cards (which is to say, women who have had some time to figure this reality out), it is baffling that Dove can continue to garner raves...”

Is Ms. Keane really suggesting that library-attending women over 35 don’t have what she calls ‘body image baggage’? I find that comical. In fact, that statement should be placed in a box next to a rational statement and used as one of those ‘list what’s wrong with Box B’ puzzles.

Women over 35 have as many, if not more, body image issues as younger women. We’ve suffered longer! And most women over 35 aren’t going to the library to read up on feminist body image protocol. They’re going to entertain the kid for an hour so they can lean against a bookshelf and sleep.

So why is speaking a truth now considered pandering? The truth, as they say, shall set you free. All of those women standing longingly in the cosmetics aisles at Bloomies are not there because they love their chins.

Our critic friend, Erin, goes on to scold, “The only interesting thing Dove has done since it began this campaign... is overtly shift the emphasis from sexual attraction to peer approval. The real take-away is still that women should care whether a stranger thinks she is beautiful.”

Gasp! Women want to be both sexually attractive and beautiful? Shocking! Tell me why that’s bad, again?

“That’s not radical,” the article continues, “It’s the thesis of every beauty product ad campaign ever.”

Yes. Dove sells soaps, lotions and beauty products so its ads sell - you guessed - soaps, lotions and beauty products. Also, the ship sinks at the end of Titanic.

But there’s more. These Dove people are pretty darn evil, as Ms. Keane establishes, “It’s never OK for a woman to admit that she knows she’s kind of average-looking and she’s OK with that.” 

Yes! So many places we, as a society, extol the virtues of mediocrity: work, school, sports, the bedroom. Embrace the average! It’s patriotic!

“In the radical world of Dove, nothing matters more than being perceived as beautiful — not being a kind and generous friend, not being a smart and talented professional, not even being decent to kids,” Ms. Keane warns.

Right. Wanting to feel pretty and have soft skin means you kick bunnies. That’s what those Dove ads mean. (This gal is good.)

If the Dove ads speak to women who’ve had a hard time finding clothes that fit in the women’s department, or women who’ve grown their bangs so they can hide what they perceive to be a too-long forehead, or women who’ve used their palms to pull back their cheeks to emulate a younger self’s skin -- if Dove wants to acknowledge those women exist and target their product needs I not only have no problem with it, I’m glad for it.

In the end, the gist of Ms. Keane’s critique about the Dove ads is that they don’t really change the conversation around women’s sense of self. We’re still encouraged to care about how we look, but from a different point of view, in these advertisements.

I think it’s about time a health and beauty company asked us to do just that.  If Ms. Keane doesn’t want to buy health and beauty products and would prefer a deeper examination of women’s self-identity issues may I suggest she stop lingering over online advertisements and check out the library?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What Do You Deserve?

Try it. Try saying "I believe the children are our future" in any conversation with anyone familiar with Western pop culture and a good number of them will finish that lyric with fine diva flair.

Those next few words, 'teach them well', popped into my head as I was digesting events over the past week or so, and I couldn't shake them.

First, I had taken one too many blows at work, too close together, and I could not distance my rational self from my maybe-I-should-throw-it-all-to-hell-and-move-to-a-cave self. Also, I was angry. I was so angry I couldn't put it on mute long enough to keep it from bleeding over into my conversations around the kids. Not, what I want to teach them about handling disappointment.

Then the explosions at the Boston Marathon happened. The news was shocking, the images disturbing and the reality a seeping memory come back to life, starved for attention no matter how well fed. Many of the same emotions I'd felt over my petty little business loss were flashing back at me on the news, but this time with justification. I talked to the kids about it, but nothing satisfies the 'why?' of a child in these situations. 'They didn't deserve to die, right?' the kids wondered. Of course they didn't. So how do you explain? What do you teach a child about a horror scene like that?

You don't always get what you deserve.

Sometimes you work very hard, you try your best. And then you lose and it feels terrible. You don't deserve that. Sometimes you go on vacation to share an experience with your friends. And then you die because some sick person planted an explosive near where you were standing. Certainly, that's not what you deserved. Maybe you're born into poverty or hunger or illness. You do not deserve that pain.

If I teach my children well, they will accept that despite their best efforts they may not get what they deserve. And that's no reason not to try their best every time; many times they will succeed. That's no reason not to go cheer for a friend in a race; many more times than not, there will be triumph. There is either sadness or glory in defeat, a stall or a march forward.

I'm going to teach my children to choose glory and hope. Because the fact is we are the now and the children are the future and what we teach them, not just in words but in deeds, will be the next reality. If we don't choose wise words and good deeds we may get precisely what we deserve.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Good Night, Sweet Saffey

Good night, sweet Saffey...

spelled S A F E, if I'm being correct. We could never have known how meant for us you were on that day.

"That one? Are you sure?" we called from across the room.

"Yes, yes!" our Sara jumped up and down.

How many she'd declined before she saw your face and knew, knew certain as certain could be.

She was so right. No greater gift has ever been shared among us.

Good night, sweet Saffey...

With thanks for giving us so much and asking so little. Thank you for keeping my Sara warm and my Sam busy and my Lucy feeling important and needed. Thank you for giving Daddy purpose at 5 AM and reminding me I was never alone, especially during my most sleepless nights.

Thank you for all the sticky petting you suffered, not just from us, but all the family and a host of neighbor's children who now will walk past our doorstep wistfully wishing you were there. Thank you for chasing away the field mice and for leaving some at our back door - I couldn't have known what precious gifts they were, at the time. Thanks for being the most quiet but most constantly good and giving member of our family. You were, indeed, and always will be a magical spirit in our lives.

I'm so glad you passed to the next life on a bright and happy day, outside where you most loved to be when not snuggled with someone inside.  I hope you're resting well and lolling about in a rich field of green, green grass, warming in the sun, knowing that we are missing you so desperately but wanting nothing but joy for you in your next life. I hope we'll have the chance to hold you again some day.

Until then, good night, sweet Saffey...