I’m All About That Self Love

As often as I’ve been hearing it, I think I can assume that many of you have also heard a song called “All About That Bass.” Oh, so catchy. Such a strong singing voice. Such a positive message. Wait, what?

I do think that Meghan Trainor has a fantastic voice, and I love the sound of the song. But, positive message?

Consider:

“Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size.”

Okay. Don’t worry about your size. Period. Or, since I get a little wordy, I might say:

“Don’t worry about your size. Your worth, your beauty, are not bound up in your size or your appearance. If you are healthy, make good choices to take care of yourself and treat others with kindness and respect, that is what matters.”

I might even throw in something like this:

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NIV)

Instead, the song goes on to say, “She [Mama] says, ‘Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.’”

What does that have to do with loving yourself? Are girls supposed to model themselves after whatever it is that boys want at night?

No. That is not what I want my daughter to learn. Or my son, for that matter.

It’s really too bad. I do love the sound of this song, but I cannot support lyrics like these.

Girls, Dirt and Play

I can vividly remember taking my precious toddler girl out to play in the backyard. This was about nine years ago. If she happened to sit down on the ground, perhaps lose her balance and end up on her bottom, she was distressed by the dirt that she got on her hands. Rather than dig in and play in the dirt, she sat there holding her hands out as if unsure what to do about that dirt.

At four, she wore dresses almost everyday. (She had been the lucky recipient of a lot of very lovely hand-me-down dresses.) She certainly had other options in her dresser and closet, but she literally wore dresses almost everyday. I should add, it didn’t stop her from playing. She was into Polly Pockets and Littlest Pet Shop around this time, but she also enjoyed playing outside at the playground (in her lovely dresses).

By the time she was six, she was in self-imposed superhero training. She very seriously informed me that one must be eight years old to actually be a superhero, so she was in training until that day. This involved a lot of strength and agility work. Many goals and checklists.

At ten, she is now a full-fledged superhero. And a musketeer. And she plays in the dirt. That little girl who once held out her hands in dismay when they touched dirt now comes in from an afternoon of play absolutely covered in mud.

So why am I telling you this? I ran across this interesting blog post on peggyorenstein.com about girls’ footwear and the old practice of foot-binding.

My two kids and I had read the biography of a missionary to China named Gladys Aylward last year. One of the things she accomplished there was helping to eliminate the practice of foot-binding (the mandarin made her a foot inspector), which would literally deform the girls’ feet and greatly limit their mobility. As you would expect, all three of us were horrified by foot-binding and couldn’t imagine anyone choosing to do that to their children. We shook our heads, thinking how enlightened modern people are in comparison.

The Peggy Orenstein article cites a study showing that parents take their boys outside to play more than their girls. It also shows the vast difference in marketing for boys’ and girls’ shoes. Whether to sparkle and shine or to help you run fast. Whether to be looked at or to be used. I must say, I hadn’t ever really thought of footwear choices as reflecting the same attitudes as foot-binding, but I can see her point.

I’ve never been one to wear high heels often. Occasionally when dressing up, sure, but not regularly. Since I started running, though, I almost never wear them. I noticed that my ankles bothered me when I would go for a run after a night out in high heels. Not worth it to me. My feet are for getting me around, not for looking at. Contrary to the shoe industry’s apparent marketing strategy, I care more about utility. I have a few pairs of high heels that mainly collect dust and that I probably never should have wasted money on for how seldom I actually wear them. Am I unusual? I don’t know. I don’t pay that much attention to other people’s shoes. Is the shoe industry out of touch? Again, I’m really not sure.

I have nothing against dressing up and wearing pretty things, for myself or for my daughter. I draw the line when looking pretty and shiny becomes more important than being active and doing what we enjoy. If we can’t work or play for fear of messing up our shiny shoes, what’s the point?

What do you think? As a culture, are we unintentially (or intentionally) telling our girls to be still and look pretty?

(I hope not. There is SO MUCH MORE to life than that!)

Looking Forward to Getting ‘Cooked’

Yes, I know this post title sounds bizarre. It makes me chuckle, so bizarre it shall be.

cooked

I just caught part of an interview with Michael Pollan in which he talked about his new book, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation.

First of all, I am excited to read his new book! I just got myself onto the waiting list at the library. :)

Second, there were a couple things he said that reminded me of some particular events from my own life that I’d like to jot down here.

Once upon a time, part of my job included grocery shopping for a household, but I was not the person who did the cooking. In retrospect, I can see that this could be challenging for the person who would ultimately do the cooking. I know that as the cook in my own home, I prefer to also be the one in control of the grocery shopping. Who better to know what’s needed for the coming week? That wasn’t really possible in this particular situation, so those tasks were split.

What brought me down this particular section of Memory Lane was Michael Pollan’s recommendation to “Shop for Ingredients, Not Meals”. I remember being so irritated when my coworker complained of there being nothing to make. I knew there were all kinds of wonderful ingredients in the house. I stocked them! I finally realized he was looking for something easier. It was a source of tension, two different approaches to cooking. I never did make the move to buying convenience foods, so I was probably a source of annoyance to my coworker for the duration of that arrangement. I don’t regret buying quality ingredients rather than ready-made meals. My job was to stock the household with good sources of nutrition, which is what I did.

Pollan also noted that a lot of people don’t cook these days because they feel they don’t have time. I won’t lie. I have two frozen pizzas in my freezer right now, and there are some hectic evenings when I’m glad to have an option like that. I do try not to rely on those kinds of foods often, though. I’ve found over the years that it is possible to cook up a healthy meal fairly quickly if need be. For me, occasional meatless meals on these busier evenings have helped me provide quick meals for my family that are still real food. I do cook, but you won’t typically find me spending hours cooking our evening meal. (Once in a while, yes.) Thinking of cooking and time reminds me of a conversation with an older woman visiting from India who asked me if I cooked. I told her yes, and she asked me how many hours I spent cooking. She went on to tell me of her marathon cooking sessions. I was never sure if she was trying to make me feel inadequate or what. Maybe she envied me? I don’t know. Just a funny story that still makes me smile.

And as it happens, I’m off to start dinner. For the record, onight’s dinner will take about two hours to complete.

See, I’m enjoying Cooked before I’ve even gotten my hands on a copy. Maybe I’ll be back to talk more about it after I’ve actually read it!

Time to get cooking!

Coincidence

I wish I could remember all the times when I read an article or passage of Scripture that absolutely spoke to me exactly where I was. There have also been numerous times when I heard a song that was perfectly suited to my situation.

Sometimes these coincidences speak words of comfort, sometimes conviction, sometimes simply let me know I am not alone in my particular situation.

Coincidence is defined as follows:

co·in·ci·dence
[koh-in-si-duhns]

noun
1.
a striking occurrence of two or more events at one time apparently by mere chance: Our meeting in Venice was pure coincidence.

2.
the condition or fact of coinciding.

3.
an instance of this.

I am not convinced that all these occurrences are mere coincidence. I think they may be one way that God speaks to us.

I recently shared a Maya Angelou quote that I appreciate. “When you know better, you do better.”

The very next Bible study I attended included the following:

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
~Ephesians 4:22-24

Another way of reminding me to keep moving forward and doing better as I learn. Whether providential, or simply coincidence, I appreciate these moments, and I think this message is worth repeating.

Machiavellian Mom

Machiavelli for Moms

Did anyone else see the piece on Suzanne Evans over the weekend? Here’s a link to the article I read, which is quoted below, if you’d like to take a peek. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323646604578400804035071688.html

Author of Machiavelli for Moms: Maxims on the Effective Governance of Children, Evans applies principles from Machiavelli’s The Prince to child rearing.

Some of what I read made me feel sad. Pitting the children against each other in a competition for better grades?

“Excellent!” I praised Teddy when she brought home a nearly perfect second-grade report card. I then rewarded her with a celebratory family dinner at the restaurant of her choice. On the other front, Daniel, whose report card wasn’t so stellar, got nothing, other than the shame of losing the competition—to his younger sister no less, as I reminded him.

I favor respecting all family members as individuals, with different gifts and interests. Family relationships are more important than grades, in my opinion. It is not worth putting that kind of wedge between siblings in an attempt to provide more motivation. If a family member struggles with a given subject, then support, don’t shame. And accept that not every person will be equally gifted in a given area. The idea of intentionally shaming a child upsets me. I’m a big believer in each person working to his or her own potential. Do your best. Don’t worry about what the person next to you is doing.

I also can’t get behind this:

So, to minimize resistance and feelings of unnecessary abandonment (“You’re going golfing? Can we come?!”), I told my kids that their dad and I were going away for the weekend on a business trip. And I didn’t feel a bit guilty about it. The result: When I returned home, I was well-rested and relaxed, and my kids, who had worn out their grandparents, were thrilled to have me and their dad back home.

In other words: Don’t feel guilty for lying to your kids if it makes you happy and relaxed…because having a happy, relaxed mom always benefits a child.

It might be easier in the moment to avoid a confrontation (and believe me, I hate confrontation), but I don’t think it is worth damaging the trust between parents and children in order to get away for a weekend. I see nothing wrong with taking that weekend away, only with lying about it.

While it sounds like Evans does offer some advice that I would agree with (such as providing children with a set amount of money and letting them decide how to use it ~ it’s great to teach the value of a dollar!), there is too much emphasis on results over relationships for my taste.

Parenting is hard work. I make mistakes. All. the. time. Even in my imperfection, I want my approach to be from a place of respect. I show them how to show respect by modeling respect in my treatment of them and others. I teach them how to be kind by modeling kindness. I teach them diligence by diligently going about my own work.

Whew! I am suddenly feeling overwhelmed.

It’s a work in progress.

Even if modeling my parenting style after Machiavelli results in high-achieving, well-behaved children, the cost is too high if it means breaking trust within the family.

What do you think?

Book Love

I frequently pick up books at the library that I think my children or my husband might enjoy (in addition to those that they choose themselves).  Some turn out to be total duds.  That’s okay.  When I check out these books, they represent possibility, not certainty.

Occasionally I stumble onto something really wonderful for a member of my family.  Sometimes one of my library grabs will even grow into a long-term interest.  I feel so gratified in those moments when I see a sparkle in the eye that tells me I brought something new and exciting into their lives.

If you know me, or have read this post, you know how much I love books. I truly think they open up the world to those who look inside.

Here’s my sweet girl, engrossed in one of my successful picks.

image

Have you read anything wonderful lately?

Do Better

“When you know better, you do better.”
~Maya Angelou

I’ve been seeing this quote a lot lately, and it resonates with me. I’ve heard that ignorance of the law is no excuse. Maybe that is the case when it comes to law enforcement, but if you ask me, an intentional wrong is something altogether different from an act of ignorance or an accident.

When I look back over my own choices, certainly there are things I would do differently if I had the chance. I am a work in progress and expect I always will be. We are all learning throughout our lives. At least I hope we are. It would be a shame, in my opinion, to consider oneself complete with no room for further knowledge or improvement.

If you are beating yourself up because you’ve had a change of mind or heart about something in your life, please stop. Now that you know better, you will do things differently. That’s all you can do. If you have wronged someone, you can apologize and seek forgiveness. You can and should forgive yourself. You can’t change the past. You can only change how you approach things going forward.