The illusion of difference.

Nikki and I have been talking body types a lot. I talk about how I’m not in my “race day body” right now – but as I pick up my miles that body will make an apperance. However, I also talk about how there are things I’ll miss about this body – like how I really like my boobs at this weight. She knows I love this body for some reasons but that as I run more I’ll thin out again for my big race, but I’ll never get TOO thin because that’s just not my body type. I talk about that, how my body is best for running at a certain size, but never as small as some of the runners we know and that’s fine. That’s THEIR body. I talk about how some clothes fit better on THIS body but won’t fit right on my race day body. And that the trick with ANY body is to find the clothes that make you feel GREAT about your body and wear the shit out of them.

There’s a certain dress style that I love but the waistline hits me weird and somehow makes me feel shorter than I am. I use that as an example, I’ve even tried one on before to show her what I mean. But a high-waist/empire-waist dress? Those make me feel SO TALL, and I love those dresses. I explain to her, that when we’re shopping for clothes she needs to feel GREAT in what she chooses. We do not need to shop based on what her FRIENDS look great in, but what she FEELS great in.

And a lot of this works. She really seems to grasp that not all of us have the same body and things that look great on women we love, don’t necessarily work on us. And that there are outfits you will find that you look at yourself in and think YES! THIS IS THE PERFECT OUTFIT! But then your friends might try on that same outfit and it doesn’t look as good. Or vice versa – you could borrow clothes from your friend and it won’t quite look the same on you. I guess I’m trying my best to lay the groundwork so she doesn’t unfairly compare herself to others or expect clothes to look the same on her as they do her friends.

But all of this has been hitting me as incredibly futile lately because…EVERYONE ON TV LOOKS THE SAME…EVERYONE ON THE MAGAZINE COVERS LOOKS THE SAME…EVERYONE IN THE MOVIES LOOKS THE SAME.

Yes, there are anomalies, but for the most part every face she sees on TV, in the theater, and on magazines is attached to a long, lean body. Maybe it’s been photoshopped, but for the most part they are ALL THE SAME. So while I’m home trying to provide real-world examples of the variety of beautiful bodies in the real world, she turns on the TV and everyone is lean and perfect.

And this is the part I struggle with.

She sees our friends and family and gets that there are different bodies but she turns out our favorite superhero shows and all of the girls look the same. Long and Lean. “Perfect” bodies to the eye of an 11-year old.

This is the same with older women and the beauty industry’s hatred of wrinkles. No one puts wrinkly faces on magazines or on TV shows or in movies except when they need a grandma-aged character. But if you need/want a middle-aged woman? She’s not showing wrinkles so we start to think wrinkles are not normal and suddenly everywhere I turn there’s ads for $250 anti-wrinkle “systems” that we’re supposed to be using.

DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY DONUTS I CAN BUY FOR THAT MONEY?

We all live with two realities. The one that we see around us every day in our sisters and our coworkers and our friends and family: Many beautiful bodies in many beautiful shapes and sizes.

But then we turn on the TV or look at a magazine and every female body looks the same: Long, Lean, Perfect Skin.

It’s very easy to see how we all get such distorted ideas of beauty. Women hate their wrinkles because no one on TV or in the movies has them. Girls hate muffin tops because everyone has flat bellies on magazine covers. Women are ashamed of rolls under their bra strap because no one on TV has extra pounds ANYWHERE. We see the beauty of variety in the real world, but not in the world that sells us clothing and food and cars. That world all women have the exact same body: so of course we think any variation is bad.

I don’t really have a point other than just expressing frustration that no amount of coaching at home about the different kinds of BEAUTIFUL bodies can erase the fact that the media we all ingest is homogenized. We can all name the same actresses that don’t fit that standard mold, but how many of those women have been cast with that body because that body is part of the punchline? How many times is the bigger women used as the source of comedy?

Hollywood tends to cast gay men being gay, black women being black, and fat people being fat. What we need is gay characters that could also be straight, or black women being cast in parts that allow them to be something where “blackness” is not the story, or fat women being cast in a roll that could be just as funny being played by a thin women. If the comedy REQUIRES the character be fat, then we’re not normalizing anything.

We are all complex in our beauty and our flaws. And the older I get, the more frustrated I get that the media we consume – more often than not – only casts outside this mold if the story is about how the character does not fit the mold. Let’s see more characters that don’t fit that unrealistic “beauty” standard, and then just go on living their normal lives. I want to see a character in a main storyline that is gay, or has brown skin, or does not have a lean body…and I want to see that character be involved in a story that doesn’t relate to ANY OF THOSE THINGS. I want to see a Melissa McCarthy cast in a roll Jennifer Lawrence could have played and it not changed the story. I want to see Jennifer Hudson cast in a roll that Emily Blunt could have played and it not changed the story. I want the main character in an action movie be gay and the only reason we know that is the background shots of his family portraits featuring his husband.

It’s just hard to convince my child that our world is a mosaic of differences when she doesn’t see it reflected back in Hollywood. Hell, we don’t even see it reflected back in our government. Our representatives are more overwhelmingly straight, white, Christian men…at a much higher percentage than our actual population is.

I’m just discouraged lately, I guess. I’ll keep delivering the messages but it sure would be nice if the people who choose magazine covers and movie leads and TV cast would back me up once in awhile.

I’m Stealing My Mom’s Good News

UGGGGG. This week, y’all.

First, we’ve been recovering from some shitty parenting days for about 2 weeks as I put the call out last week for some of you to email me if you’ve parented a child like Wesley. That’s going well, but it left behind just an unsettling negative undercurrent in our lives. Then, Donnie’s recurring knee injury was showing it’s face and he made the decision Tuesday to NOT run the Pinhoti 100 this weekend. A race he’s been training for, for 9 months. He’s spent money on coaching, he’s run hundreds and hundreds of miles, we put together a fine team of good people, we bought super-fancy headlamps…all of it and he can’t see it to the end now. And he’s DEVASTATED. I did quickly plan a weekend away to Chattanooga to help distract him, but still. HE IS BROKEN HEARTED, on top of the parenting funk we’ve been feeling for two weeks.

THEN! Bambi got sick fast and we had to put her to sleep yesterday. I suffered that burden alone because A) She was my cat and I felt I owed bravery that to him for 17+ years of love he gave me and B) Donnie doesn’t need any more shit, jeezus. Give him a break Universe!

THEN! Last night Nikki got tripped up on a fast rush to the ball in a game and there was a bunch of bodies and next thing she’s hitting the ground fast, butt first, then head. The story goes her head bounced, although my angle was off so it looked to me like she got kicked. Either way, she was immediately screaming and grabbing her head. And of course, because we’ve had a string of bad luck with Nikki and refs this year, the game continued while Donnie and I just watched in silence as she’s holding her head and screaming. It was the weirdest few minutes of any soccer game because we’re just watching and waiting for something to happen but the game is still going and it hits me: Parents all along the sidelines are screaming, “STOP THE GAME! There’s a hurt player!”

(Thank you, parents. I’ve trained myself to go silent when my kid gets hurt because I tend to overreact and be embarrassing.)

Eventually they stopped the game and we let the coaches to to her, she was still crying. They got her off the field and she’s STILL crying. Donnie went over and the game ended and she was STILL CRYING. And so commenced concussion watch 2016.

(Donnie made sure to talk to the ref about not stopping the game. The ref said the only stop the game if the hurt player is in danger – which I guess he didn’t think she was since the play was continuing far away. My husband pointed out that she’s 11 and this is a rec league so ANY head injury means a player is in danger.)

We eventually got her calmed down and decided she probably has a mild concussion but no need for an ER. We did follow the guideslines though and wake her up ever 2-3 hours to make sure she was responsive. I’ll have to get her to a doctor today because they won’t let her play without permission from her Pediatrician or an ER. She was hurting so bad last night (and SUPER-sensitive to light) that I doubt they’re going to clear her to play, but we’re going to take her anyway.

SO I AM TIRED A SHIT TODAY, Y’ALL.

I did wake up at 3:20am to find the Cubs won. I’m not a baseball person but my Mom always has been and has always been a Cubs fan. We took her to see the Cubs play the Braves 10+ years ago. So, I’m going to focus on that today. My Mom is going to wake up either A) EXHAUSTED because she stayed up WAY TOO LATE to watch the game or B) THRILLED to the news. So! I’m stealing her good news and claiming it as my own since we need it today! Congrats to my Mom and Cubs fans everywhere!

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Young Ladies of the SEC, Enjoy the Game!

I hate to lambast another writer online because that has been known to destroy blogs and my biggest fear is something I write on my blog to go viral and me shut the whole thing down because of the unwanted attention.

But, I feel like once you have your stuff on HuffPo you know what you’re getting into and you’re kinda fair game. And to put it bluntly, I was ENRAGED when I read “Young ladies of the SEC, cover it up!

I wished you understood that a trend can be interpreted as fun and flirty without being tasteless.

Most of all, I hoped you would soon wake up to embrace the ethos shared by higher learning institutions everywhere – class.

That lucky shaker tucked into the back of your on trend boot?

The team logo you’re sporting on your cheek?

The Greek letters sticker on your shirt declaring the sorority to which you belong and your loyalty to your team?

All rendered classless by those ill covered curves you’ve made sure are on full display.

I mean, it was MADDENING to read this on so many levels, most of them quite obvious. My blood was BOILING as I read this.

But, before I outline my rage, let me also address an opposing article making the rounds on my feed yesterday. “Mom Shares Photos To Remind Us ‘Skinny’ Doesn’t Always Mean ‘Healthy’” was being shared out and lauded because: BODY POSITIVITY! Yay her!

And the contrast of the two articles hit me strongly.

And here’s the thing…the less obvious point of contention with the HuffPo article. Body positivity is not just for the flabby. It’s for the fit, too. And the young. I saw a viral photo once of a woman with a flabby body in a bikini and everyone was very proud of her, as was I. We gather together and we raise up a woman who DARES to show her less-than-perfect body that the media hide from covers and advertisements. I’m certain the women who agree with the SEC Lady Shamer would RISE UP to defend a flabby friend’s right to wear a bikini to the pool.

But women wearing skimpy clothes at a college football game? Let’s shame them and call them classless.

We all have opinions on what looks good on people and what doesn’t. I saw a woman wearing high wasted jeans the other day and thought, I’m not sure those flatter her body type. It was just instinctive, part of me just noticed. I kinda hated myself because maybe she felt like she looked GREAT and I should keep my mind from being an asshole. But we all do it, we all have rolled our eyes at the girls over-dressed or under-dressed. We may not be proud of it, but we’ve done it.

But let’s withhold taking those thoughts and allowing them to spread, shall we? Let’s not gossip with our friends about the girl who shows too much cleavage at the PTA meetings, let’s not laugh with our sisters about the cousin who’s still wearing last decades fashions, let’s not post pictures on Facebook of people we call “rednecks” at Wal-Mart.

And most importantly? Let’s not write self-righteous articles on Huffington Post shaming young women at their most vulnerable points in life.


Dear Young Ladies of the SEC,

Enjoy the game!

Mind your safety if you’re enjoying alcohol, keep an eye on your drink and have a sober friend!

Call me if you need a ride!

And are you seriously wearing stilettos to a football game? On all of those stairs? TEACH ME YOUR SECRETS.

I’m just kidding. I hate crowds and don’t like shoes with any heal. Your secrets would be wasted on me.

Love yourself and love your tribe of women.

WDE! GBO! RTR!

************************************************
UPDATE

UGG. I forgot about one other line that bugged me:

Families attend these games. Little eyes are watching you.

UGG. IT’S TERRIBLE. The implication that our children need not see those skimpy outfits? UGGG. UGGGGGGGG.

My brain just exploded. I lost the ability to speak.

OH! OH! And the ending!

Don your most debonair collegiate colors ensemble. Heck, try to sneak in a flask or two (this is college, after all).

WHAT IN THE ACTUAL…FRICK? Okay. You almost made me curse. I’ve got to quit adding stuff to this entry.

(Maybe.)

VACATION! (Ugg.)

There is no greater surprise in the world than the realization in adulthood that vacations are SUPER STRESSFUL. At least when you have a family. I’ve taken a few short vacations on my own and THEY ARE PERFECTLY LOVELY. They are the picture-book image of what vacations should be: Equal parts fun and relaxing.

FAMILY VACATIONS ARE NOT QUITE LIKE THAT.

Now. It’s still worth it, obviously. I love a good vacation. Harry Potter World was amazing last year and I still sometimes sink into a tiny depression over missing it. This year? Denver and Breckenridge to visit my brother and his family. And I am SOOOOO looking forward to it. BUT OH MY GOD, SO MANY THINGS TO STRESS OUT ABOUT.

First? The weather.

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Let me just say that when I wake up here in Alabama? We are already at the “HIGH” for the day. So there are no winter clothes anywhere within reach in our house. But those lows in the 40s mean we need to be packed for “chilly” and “warm”. And I say “we” because I’ll back for the two little kids. Then there’s the activities we’ll be taking part of outside – so we’ll need to be prepared for all of the above. AND THIS STRESSES ME OUT.

Then there’s the prep for leaving the house. I don’t want to leave anything behind to be wasted because WE DO NOT WASTE FOOD IN THIS HOUSE. So I have to plan meals accordingly. Oh – look – we have a bunch of mushrooms leftover from stir-fry night. GOING IN THE LUNCH BOXES! Hmmm…not going to finish the juice…WHO NEEDS CREAMER FOR COFFEE WHEN WE HAVE JUICE!

And the house MUST be mostly clean. For two reasons. 1) Because I don’t want to come home to a mess to clean up. and 2) Because I don’t want the people who are helping with our house and pets to think we’re more disgusting than I admit we are. I never profess to keep an immaculate house, so it’s not at that level, but the beds are made and the counters are clean.

The stress of packing doesn’t have only to do with clothing, but also other things we might need. Chargers, technology, screens, books, art, things to do on the plane, things to do in the car, snacks, and cosmetics. Now, we will grocery shop so we can get a lot of stuff there, but we need to prep for the drive to Nashville, the flight to Denver, and the drive to Breckenridge all before we do a grocery stop.

And then I’m super-worried about my kid’s behavior. We’re visiting family we only see ever 2’ish years. WE MUST MAKE A GOOD IMPRESSION. And oh my GOD, that’s a hard thing when you’re living with someone for a whole week. Wesley is certain to tell me he hates me at some point in time and THAT STRESSES ME OUT. Of course my family is realistic and know we’re not perfect, and they love us either way, BUT STILL. Please tell me I’m not the only person who completely stressed out about my kid’s behavior when visiting family. I think it’s because I still have memories of family discussing the ill-behaved kids at family gatherings and I don’t want that to be my kid!

(Also – I feel like going back in time and defending the parents of those ill-behaved kids. I’d get in a time machine and say, “GIVE THEM A BREAK. THEY ARE DOING THEIR BEST.”)

So, all of this has me not sleeping. And that’s okay because I know once we get there? It will be heavenly. Because even though I’ll be stressed about whether we packed the right things, and if my kids are behaving, I’ll still be on vacation and I can’t stress about the million of things at home that I stress about every day. Nope. Those things won’t be there. So, no matter what, I’m going to feel rejuvenated in the mountains of Colorado.

Bring it on!

Just Call Me Insaneabella McCrankyPants

Donnie has been working late every night for like…DECADES it feels. It’s me, on my own, every night and I am grumpy about it. It’s not the solo parenting thing – I do most of the evening tasks even if he is here – it’s just being LONELY. I just like having another grown-up to talk to at night. Besides myself. Which I’m doing plenty of because I AM LONELY. But when I’m talking to myself I’m mean to myself because I’m also GRUMPY. I’m a lonely grumpy lady who is just spewing negativity to everyone in her family because THERE ARE NO DONUTS IN THIS HOUSE. I NEED DONUTS.

Also – we saw the sun for the first time yesterday in at least 100 years. Gray days make me grumpy.

I also have all these things I want to be doing: Finishing my book, working on a new website, taking some photos, finishing up a birthday present for a family member whose birthday is WAY TOO SOON and I’m never going to get it finished. Also? Contractor coming on Friday to give us estimates on big projects for the house before we try to sell again. I know – many say don’t spend too much if you’re just trying to sell – but the thing is, if it takes awhile we want to be less crazy than we were last time and these projects will help so! Two birds! One grumpy stone.

I’ve been sooooo stressed which makes me sooooo grumpy even if my husband came home for things other than just to sleep. I get really grumpy when I don’t feel like there’s enough time to do everything I need to do. I get in like: FULL ANXIETY MODE which means my smile disappears permanently and a scowl takes over along with no patience the proliferation of snarky guilt trips on everyone around me. I’m eating terrible even without the donuts in the house and that makes me MORE grumpy because my mood and my food choices go hand-in-hand. Eat terrible food? In terrible mood. So I’m doubling up on the cranky factor by stuffing my face with horrible food choices.

I AM A JOY.

But there’s going to be SUN today and I need a reset. I’m going to try to do that thing where I force myself to smile more because the GRUMPY FACE IS GOING TO GET STUCK IF YOU DON’T, YOUNG LADY.

I don’t even know what’s happening here anymore. What was the point of this post? I don’t even remember.

OH YEA. I’VE BEEN GRUMPY.

This is riveting material.

Also – I woke up late this morning. I woke up at 2:55am and THAT IS LATE. AND I SOMETIMES HATE MY LIFE.

Not really. I’m a morning person. This is my morning. I don’t hate it. But on paper? It looks terrible.

So – I’m already late so my efforts to wane the Grumpiness might be off to a bad start.

Let me get my coffee. It’s done brewing.

Y’all. I tried to take a picture of my coffee to use in this already RIVETING entry and I spent 15 minutes just trying to take it and then get it to my computer and THIS IS JUST MAKING ME MORE LATE.

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But you have to admit. This insane stream of consciousness entry is much better with photo evidence, right?

I’m almost 100% certain this is the quality of entry the inventors of National Blog Posting Month were hoping to see when they challenged bloggers to write every day. IT DOESN’T GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS, PEOPLE.

So. Where were we? I’ve been grumpy because my husband has been working too much and there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything I want or even NEED to do. But today? Today I’m going to try to be LESS grumpy. And smile more. So my face doesn’t get stuck in this frown.

The End.

(Please don’t leave forever. I promise I’ll write something better tomorrow.)

(No, I don’t. I make no promises of the quality of entries you’ll see during NaBloPoMo. But please come back anyway.)