Archive for April, 2010

Being Hairy Doesn’t Have To Be So Scary

Yin Mama

Woman, whether we like it or not, are often put to a higher standard than the men around us.  If we get divorced and leave our kids, people wonder why.  If we decide to concentrate on our careers and don’t want to get married or have children, people wonder why.  Even if we decide not to shave our legs or armpits, people wonder why.

Now the first two examples women will sometime be given leeway or just have a family member make an excuse for them.  But I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone make an excuse for a woman who chose not to shave.  You’d think it was some sort of crime in America not to do so.

This topic comes up periodically in social conversation.  The Golden Girls had a scene about them shaving their legs and if they shaved their thighs or not.  It came up 10 years ago when Julia Roberts stopped shaving for a while.  And it came up again recently when Academy Award winner Mo’Nique “admitted” that she didn’t shave her legs (I use the quotations because admitted is a term usually used in sentences like “he admitted that he killed the girl” or “she admitted to her boyfriend she had cheated on him).  Catherine Saint Louis wrote an article for The New York Times a few weeks ago about Mo’Nique’s decision and had a great line in it that said “On the red carpet, if a woman has hairy legs or armpits, it is assumed to be an accidental misstep — a failure of time management, if you will.”

I totally agree.  People will often assume that women who haven’t shaved just forgot or didn’t have time to do it.  No one thinks that maybe they just didn’t want to shave.  For years most African American women didn’t shave their armpits or their legs.  That’s changed a lot since I was a teenager in the 1980’s but there are still some who don’t.  And even though I always have (I was allowed by my mom to shave my armpits at 11 but not my legs.  I did it anyway when I started high school) I’ve never thought it was disgusting if a woman didn’t save her legs.  It must be kind of freeing not to conform to what American society thinks is beautiful.  Maybe she’s European, where they don’t shave as much as we do.  Or maybe her husband/boyfriend/girlfriend finds it attractive for her to go au natural.

While I personally don’t have a problem with non shaving of the legs I have to admit that not shaving the armpits is a different matter for me, but not just for women.  I’m kind of grossed out when men wear tank tops and lift their arms.  And don’t get me started on men’s hairy backs!

It’s all about choices and the differences that make our society what it is.  So when you see a woman who hasn’t shaved recently don’t think “eww”; think how quick her shower must have been that morning and how much she saves on razors every year.  I will try to do the same with the unshaved armpit thing.

Yang Mommy

Oh to be a man and not have the expectation of having to shave thine legs! Especially in the height of summer when shorts and skirts are de rigueur. Let’s be realistic–shaving is such a pain in the ass.  It’s time-consuming, it can hurt and make you bleed, it can get expensive and it’s damn awkward to do if your legs if you’re pregnant!

But I do it. I’m not blessed w/ ultra fine, near-invisible leg hair. My mom kept those genes to herself. I’ve shaved, I’ve waxed, I’ve used those stinky bottles of hair remover, I even had the Epi-lady at one time.

To be honest, I don’t really care if a woman shaves her legs or not. It’s her choice. But I’ve been brought up in a culture where shaving one’s legs is expected. So to see a woman with long leg hair is kinda…well…really weird on first impression. My mind registers the fact, I think, “huh?” but then I move on with whatever. Besides, it’s not like leg hair smells, unlike the other hairy parts we should be shaving…..

Like armpits. I’m not into the au naturel look on men or women. Or the au naturel odor that too often frequents that area of the body. Perhaps if those who don’t shave their pits would bathe a bit more, it wouldn’t be so frowned on in our culture. But I honestly think it looks better to be clean-shaven there.

So while I’m not really a fan of the Yeti look, I do advocate good personal grooming, whether you be a man or a woman. And like Yin Mama, I wish hairy-backed men would do a little shearing themselves!

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To Russia Without Love–Who Returns An Adopted Child?!

YIN:

In the papers this weekend was the article about the woman from Tennessee who adopted a Russian boy about a year ago. She says that he has mental issues and that her family was scared that he would kill them. So they put him on an airplane alone back to Russia in hopes of reversing the adoption.

Aside from the fact that the family sending the boy to Russia quite frankly caused an international incident (Russia has closed adoptions to Americans for now), they also clearly missed the key factor when you are blessed with a child through nature or adoption. And that is you don’t know what you’re going to get. A fact that even Forrest Gump comprehended.

I don’t know the true facts in the story, only what I’ve read. But I have to wonder what the family would have done if one of the biological children had behaved the way they said the adopted child did. There isn’t anyone to ship a biological child off to.

What I’m assuming is that this family doesn’t understand that adoption isn’t like buying a dress. When you are lucky to adopt a child into your life you can’t return them if they aren’t perfect or act the way you’d like. No one is perfect and we as parents need to do our best to get a child psychological help if they need it.

If the family had gotten the child help and didn’t have any other resource then I’d be more understanding. Maybe even if they’d showed some compassion for a small child when they sent him back. But they drove this 7 year old to the airport, paid someone else to walk him through security, and put him alone on an international flight. Oh and found a driver online at the destination to drive the boy to a government agency. That is just callous.

I have a feeling that the little boy might be better off now than he was living with his adopted family.

YANG

When I first heard of this story the other day, my heart went out to both this little boy and the adopting family here in the US. Reading the article, my eyes blurred with tears as I read what the boy apparently went through in his native homeland before he came to the US. Such a harsh life. Then when I read what his US family was going through, with his destructive behaviour and instilling some fear into the family, my heart went out to the parents. What had they gotten themselves into, I thought? The orphanage and doctor in Russia both said the boy was fine, so why was he acting out like this? Why the terrifying behaviour?

Then I got angry the further I read and have seen on television. Not once have I heard of this US family taking the boy to see a therapist, or to get any sort of help for him. What if it was a medical condition triggering his behaviour? What if it was a psychiatric behaviour that he could learn to reign in? What if some sort of coping skills were taught to him and his adoptive family? What if there was some medication to help?

But we won’t know now.

I hate to judge other families. And no, I have not walked in this family’s shoes. I assume it was a hard decision to send him back to Russia. God, I hope it was a difficult and torturous decision to make. But by all accounts, I don’t think it was.

I believe this family owed that little boy help, in whatever form he needed. And love. How must he feel now, to be abandoned yet again? They owed this little boy so much more than throwing him alone onto a plane to cross the Atlantic to… no one.  My heart goes out to him, along with my prayers.

I also feel bad for all the American families who were in the process of adopting Russian children, and who now, because of this family, may have had that process interrupted, stalled or terminated. They don’t deserve that.

As to the family in Tennessee, I hope they are never allowed to adopt again. As Yin said, adoption is not like buying a dress or a toy. It’s a life changing decision for everyone. Not one with any guarantees, either, but nothing in Life is guaranteed.

Dreamweaver, Send Me a Good Dream!

Yang Mommy

Dreamweaver had my number last night. And not in a good way.

Has this ever happened to you–you wake up from a realistic dream, certain you heard your child screaming, or  a water pipe burst, or some such household calamity. Your heart is pounding and you’re trying to catch your breath as if you’ve just completed a triathalon.  And when you wake, you’re full of emotion, perhaps intense anger or frustration (or the complete opposite, and you’re feeling in love and lucky!) Add to that all that, you’re more tired than when you went to bed the night before, even if you did sleep for 8hrs.  Dreams should be renewing & refreshing, right, not exhausting?

Well this all happened to me .  It began in the wee hours of the morning as I tossed and turned, positive another bee was in the bedroom. I jerked into a sitting position, ears & eyes straining in the dark, motionless but for my breathing and occasional foot nudge at my snoring husband. See, I don’t like bees; I love honey and respect what bees do, but I have a real fear of them. Plus our cherry tree is in full bloom, a mecca for all kinds of stinging, buzzy insects. All of whom have a fatalistic wish to enter my house. Anyway, after several wakeful minutes and no more signs of a bee, I went back to the land of nod.

Then the nightmare began.  I was trying to submit an entry to a writing contest and the deadline in the dream was today. Everything that could go wrong, did. First, I lost the document on my laptop and had no electronic back up, only the latest hard copy full of edits. For some reason I was also outside and it was windy, so said hard copies fluttered in the wind and I’m sure a page or two was lost. That made it difficult to retype the entire novella.

Then, I couldn’t download the contest entry form. There was either an Internet traffic jam or the contest supervisors decided to pull the plug on the entry form for us last-minuters. Did I mention time was ticking? Not in a slow, lovely way, like when you’re relaxing beach side w/ a good a book. No, this was a ticking time bomb, like when you realize your tot has breached her diaper and you are stranded in the middle of the department store, diaperbag-less.

Thankfully, this was indeed all a dream. I woke up, unfairly angry at my DH because he had slept not only through the bee incident but just because he had slept well. Surely if he loved me, he’d not only assuage my fears, but also suffer with me too, right? Then console me, plying me with fresh coffee and breakfast in bed? Alas, not the case and I shot him a nasty look as he gave me his usual cheery “Good morning honey!” Poor guy had not clue.

Later, after I calmed my heart down and wiped the beads of sweat from my forehead, I was determined to A) make sure there really was no bee in the room (maybe it died and I would trod upon the dead body–eek!)  B) make it a point today to get that entry form in my little hands ahead of time in case there are such contest supervisors out there and C) make sure I have an electronic back up of my latest round of edits.

Thankfully, this particular contest deadline isn’t until June. However if you believe that dreams are portents of what’s to come, or are little stories of what we fear, then I’ll make every effort to make this a not only a winning entry, but one that arrives well ahead of schedule. Here’s to sweeter dreams!

Raising Strong Daughters–and Sons

Yang Mommy (a continuation of Yin Mama’s blog, “Raising Strong Daughters, Is It an Uphill Battle?”)

My first reaction to reading Yin Mama’s post was empathy–an outpouring of empathy, really, because I too have walked in her shoes when I worked outside the home. I too have been “counseled” by others to bide my tongue and  keep my ideas to myself less I muddy the waters. And I have even been labelled as a “bitch” for not doing as “I was told,” going against the company grain or just plain doing my job. 

I would take it as a compliment though, or at least try to in the face of those colleagues, male and female, who could only resort to negative terms. But it was hard at times, very hard. I can’t say I blame Yin Mama for wanting to keep her head down, nose to the grind and not wanting to contribute anything less she get turned down again or chastised.

But it’s not just about raising strong daughters. It’s also about raising strong sons. Sons who will turn into men with open minds, who value the opinion or idea regardless of whose mouth it comes from. Sons who will become polite men, not chauvinistic bullies. Sons who will put aside cultural stereotypes and see that person for the individual they are.

I firmly believe that all parents want to raise good, kind, sensitive, caring children who will become good, kind, sensitive and caring adults. The culture we live in and the mores we surround ourselves with play a huge impact on how our children grow up. But it all starts within the home. Not daycare, not school, not houses of worship.

It’s true that children are sponges, soaking up everything around them. And they keep doing so well into their high school years. So it’s by example that we need to raise our children. For what they see in the home, they will in some manner, mirror in the outside world.

Just think of how many times you  find yourself saying, “I sound just like my Mom/Dad!”