Monthly Archives: July 2011

thoughts on god

my kind of princess

Today we picked up a book I ordered a few weeks ago for Emma: Not all Princesses Dress in Pink. (perfect timing, no? especially after my recent “pretty” rant)

I’m happily surprised with how much fun this book was to read to Em.  Here’s a cute little excerpt of the book, regarding princesses who work with power tools:

There’s another set of lines that read:

Some princesses roll around,
wrestling on the muddy ground,
then get right up to skip and dance
in tattered, stained and muddy pants,
and a sparkly crown.

Now these are princesses that I can dig.  There’s even a page that talks about a princess putting aside her fancy shoes for shingards and cleats!  If you’re a little overwhelmed by all the “happily ever after” tales on your daughter’s shelf, I’d wholeheartedly recommend this book to counterbalance the ominous Sleeping Beauty effect.

That said, I think I may have a new tact to try whenever Emma wants to watch/read princess crap stories.  Rather than dwelling on the beauty of Cinderella or the naiveté of Snow White, I want to emphasize the other, more compelling qualities of the princess characters.  So I can point out how Cinderella is kind to animals, and is able to find contentment, whether she’s in rags or riches. Snow White is giving and unselfish.  Ariel is independent.  Belle loves to read, and learn about the world around her.

Here’s hoping that by focusing on these other attributes of the princesses, I can more happily survive this particular preschool stage.

Merely “pretty”

Pretty by Katie Makkai

This is about the self-mutilating circus we have painted ourselves clowns in. About women who will prowl 30 stores in 6 malls to find the right cocktail dress, but haven’t a clue where to find fulfillment or how wear joy, wandering through life shackled to a shopping bag, beneath those 2 pretty syllables.

About men wallowing on bar stools, drearily practicing attraction and everyone who will drift home tonight, crest-fallen because not enough strangers found you suitably fuckable.

This, this is about my own some-day daughter. When you approach me, already stung-stayed with insecurity, begging, “Mom, will I be pretty? Will I be pretty?” I will wipe that question from your mouth like cheap lipstick and answer, “No! The word pretty is unworthy of everything you will be, and no child of mine will be contained in five letters.

“You will be pretty intelligent, pretty creative, pretty amazing. But you, will never be merely ‘pretty’.”

[transcript here]

I’ve always had a love-hate (read: mostly hate) relationship with “pretty.”

Maybe it was because I was always the funny one in the group, the girl who had the “good personality.”  And most of the time, I was (and am) okay with that.  I don’t like the conventional and media-driven definitions of “pretty,” and maybe it’s my own bias, but many of the individuals who are considered “pretty” aren’t usually the types of people I want to be around.

Is it because we have different priorities and interests? Or is it more of my own insecure self-esteem? Who knows. Usually I just avoid the topic of “pretty” and focus on other issues that interest me.

Yet these days I have a daughter who loves to be pink and “princess pretty,” and once again I find myself confronting that word and that ideal.  How do I sate Emma’s interests in the princess culture but not reinforce that superficial ideal of ‘pretty?’ It’s hard, especially when it feels like it’s me versus the “princess industrial complex.”

There was an article a few weeks ago in the HuffPost that has given me some perspective in this fight of honoring the whole girl: How to Talk to Little Girls by Lisa Bloom. A snip:

Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. It sets them up for dieting at age 5 and foundation at age 11 and boob jobs at 17 and Botox at 23. As our cultural imperative for girls to be hot 24/7 has become the new normal, American women have become increasingly unhappy. What’s missing? A life of meaning, a life of ideas and reading books and being valued for our thoughts and accomplishments.

Yes.

It’s so easy for me to compliment Emma on her incredible cuteness (and yes, beauty), or comment on her choice of (often wacky) outfit — but as her mama, I want her to aspire to be commended on more than just these surface qualities.

As much as I can, it’s my job to help her navigate the rough waters surrounding the word/ideals of “pretty,” and help get her to the other side of the contentious issue as a contented young woman.

Ultimately I hope she’s never afraid of being pretty, but also understands there’s so much more to life than being someone who can turn heads.

back to Buddhism

Oh, right, I have a blog!  Sorry for my absence, y’all — especially since you had to keep pulling up that crazy polygamy look-alike picture post each time you checked back here.  With all the conveniences of Twitter, Facebook, and now Google +, I’m just a little too spread out on the Internets.  I do still love this little piece of cyberspace of mine, though — and next year it will be 10 YEARS for my little blog. Crazy.

Anyway, the summer has been going well. We’re staying busy, as usual. This year we have TWO community garden plots to tend — and they’re doing awesome!  I’m teaching a night class 2 nights a week, and I’m also in the throes of prepping a new course I’ll be teaching in the Fall. Later this week my new iPad should arrive! Emma is home from school for the summer, and asks a couple times a day about when she can go back (her mama misses her being at school too, haha).  Jerry is switching jobs, and is in a good place, career-wise. I’m active in my roles coordinating the different groups I’m a part of — Cafe Apostate, Reasonable Women, and the Saskatoon Secular Family Network. I still blog sometimes over at Canadian Atheist, and later this month I’m going to be interviewed by a UK Christian radio station.  We’ve been making lots of new friends in the local Unitarian Centre. I’m exercising lots, either with CrossFit (a gym I lovingly call the “garage of death”) and on a co-ed soccer team, Vandelay Industries (importer/exporter of fine latex goods). Saskatoon is abuzz with outdoor festivals, with my favorite (the Fringe) starting up next week.

So with all this good going on, why do I feel unhappy?

I think it’s time for me to get back into some Buddhism.  I love how this philosophy really helps me to get out of my negative head space and helps me focus on larger issues.  I’ve dusted off my Eckhart Tolle books (who I love, despite some of the woo he occasionally peddles). I’m also hoping to reread Stephen Batchelor’s Buddhism without Beliefs, and a friend lent me a book called, That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Buddhist: On Being a Faithful Jew and Passionate Buddhist.

It may seem really strange to some people in my life that I’m drawn to Buddhism. For some of you, you may equate it with idol-worship or something satanic.  Others in my life may think that I’m handing in my “atheist card”, because I’m drawn to another RELIGION. Of course, both of these perspectives are mistaken. The more I read about Buddhism, particularly zen, the more I don’t see it as a religion but as a philosophy.  And if this philosophy helps me to find some peace and happiness, then I’m happy to pursue it (but not proselytize it).

Anyway, I’m back on the blog! Hopefully I won’t abandon her for another 6 months.