Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Importance of Being Vigilant


6 Ways to Protect Your Child from Sexual Abuse

 The best advice I've read in a long, long time. Essential reading if you're a parent. 
Thank you,  Baby&Blog.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Dunham Debate

I have just a few more thoughts on this Lena Dunham stuff and then I swear I'll shut up about it. Over the weekend The New York Times published this story: Debate on Photo Retouching Flares Online, With Roles Reversed. It made my blood boil again with regard to Dunham appearing on the cover of Vogue and Jezebel's move to publish unretouched photographs from the Vogue cover shoot.

I think it's crazy that we're at a cultural point, where a mainstream and well respected publication such as The New York Times holds the position that taking in a woman's waist and hips, lengthening her leg, slimming her jaw, elongating her neck and lifting her bustline, is normal or acceptable because a fashion magazine like Vogue is fantasy. Vogue is in the business of selling clothes. Real women wear the clothes, or at least the styles, that Vogue depicts. If the women on the pages of Vogue are digitally altered to look better in these clothes, then what does that mean for women who wear the clothes and do not digitally alter themselves before looking in the mirror? It means they have an unrealistic image of what they might look like in these clothes, and a result, a potentially confused or unhealthy self image.

The fact that The New York Times advocates for Vogue and popular fashion magazines and says in the aforementioned article that Dunham was only barely altered in the Vogue photographs is disturbing and untrue. She's altered enough in the images to make the viewer believe her proportions are something they're not. That, in fact, is a blatant fallacy. And it's destructive to how women are viewed and view themselves in today's world. If a media diet of women's bodies with smaller waists, longer necks and shrunken jawlines is what we see in largely advertised media, in media that's supposed to be inspirational or aspirational to women, and in media that is a large part of what the upper class and/or the taste makers consider to be or successful or influential, then how can we say that it doesn't matter that Dunham's proportions are altered when she's supposed to be some sort of spokesperson for "real" women?

It's a cheap cop out to say that it's okay because Vogue is fantastic and because Dunham appears unaltered on her HBO show Girls. It's a contradiction, too. If she wants to represent real women or be some sort of antidote to stereotypical Hollywood than she should in fact be that and appear unaltered as her real self. And if she'd rather appear in Vogue, then she shouldn't claim to be in favor of the real representation of women. Just because she appears unaltered on her show, does not counteract Vogue's alterations of women's bodies and the effects of that on viewers or readers.

Some www peeps and The New York Times are saying, good for Vogue, for putting Dunham, instead of a perfectly thin model or celebrity, on its cover. It's definitely something different for them in terms of how they identify beauty--and it's progress. But I'm pretty sure this cover is more of a one and only (disclaimer: I could be wrong and I hope that I am.). Lena Dunham might be Vogue's token "real girl." One is not nearly enough and does not mean positive or productive change. It just means token in order to save face. But even if Dunham's Vogue cover is the beginning of significant change, digitally altering women's bodies and faces will never sit well with me.

It's a sick world, friends. If you're not beautiful enough, in terms of mainstream beauty, they will make you beautiful--or else you're not getting in. In my humble and aged opinion, getting in is entirely overrated.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Girls, Girls, Girls

You guys, I feel that if I see another headline or photo that includes Lena Dunham, I'm going to shove a pencil into my eyeball. I'm not sure if I'm tired of the conversation that surrounds her or what I think is a whiny character on a vapid show: Girls. In my opinion, there's nothing to that show. Maybe I'm old and what twentysomethings are doing is just uninteresting at this point. Maybe they or their problems or worries just seem silly or light because as you get older, the world gets so much heavier.

I don't know.

I appreciate, at the very least, the conversation she's helped to stir about women and women's bodies and what's beautiful. I think it's essential that she's the star of a show and she's not Hollywood perfect. I think it's important that she shows her body and isn't self conscious about it. But I think when you see anyone that naked that often on TV, it just gets old. A little here and there might be more productive. I mean, that constant nakedness still feels like objectification since it's TV and we don't know her. She's just the girl who's always naked on TV. I know far less about her personality than I do about how her body looks.

I think plenty of un-Hollywood people find her attractive. I don't know that she has anything to prove, unless she's trying to compete in the fashion or media world. And maybe she is. After all, she's on the cover of Vogue. And you've heard about that, right? You've heard about how Jezebel offered $10,000 to anyone who might provide unretouched photos from her Vogue shoot?

Well, they got them. Click here to see all of the photos and the Jezebel article.

I had a male friend, who once told me that if I'm comparing myself to women I see in magazines, I'm crazy and deserve every ounce of grief that may cause me. At the time, I thought he just didn't understand because he was a guy. But now, I think he's completely right. The women in magazines or on TV and film are either retouched or have had plastic surgery or a ton of help in looking the way they do. It's not real or natural. We, as women, would be crazy to compare ourselves to such a ridiculous fantasy. I see a dramatic difference in the way women present themselves in Baltimore vs. Los Angeles. It's huge. But it took some serious growing up or maturity to be able to separate myself from women in Hollywood and magazines.

There are too many young women or girls who see that stuff--those retouched images, which are, in fact, lies, and compare themselves to something that's not real. For this reason, I think it sucks that Lena Dunham, someone who is supposed to be standing up for real women, agreed to be in Vogue a publication that would undoubtedly reduce her hips and waist, lift her bustline, lengthen her neck and narrow her jawline and shoulders.

In any case, whether she's on Vogue or Girls or whatever else, I think her message is conflicted. And I can't get away from it, even at my age. So here I am contributing my two sense to the sensationalized conversation.

What do you guys think?

via Vogue.com

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Winter Wonder

I know almost everyone thinks that California is ideal because it's perfectly sunny practically all the time. But I love the seasons. I love that when you get sick of being too hot, it's fall; when you're tired of pumpkins and red and yellow and brown, everything turns winter white; and when you've been chilled for too long, it's springtime. I bore easily, and Baltimore seasons, so far, have kept things fantastically interesting.

Here are some scenes from our very first winter in Baltimore. We've watched our backyard fill up with snow. We've sledded down our very own street and eaten way too much snow. We've opened presents and found ridiculous ways to entertain ourselves inside after playing too long outside.

I don't get it. Why don't more people want to change it up? Doesn't the sun get old when you have it practically every day of every year?


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