Tag Archives: women

Not the makeup post I promised.

My pictures this morning for the make-up post didn’t turn out really that well. Bad lighting plus iPhone camera lead to not so detailed pictures.

So, since I am trying to post everyday I am going to use this platform to plug my business. Because I can. Neener-neener-neener.

OK, ready?

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Shoot me an email or comment below if you have any questions, or head to www.mythirtyone.com/karianna to place an order* or join my team!!

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*to ensure Christmas delivery, orders must be placed by DECEMBER 12.


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I’m a Barbie Girl…

So… I have this old Glamour Magazine Subscription that I have had for years and whenever I get a new issue, I find myself practically busting blood vessels out of frustration at the content. I first subscribed to Glamour back in the 90s because it, to me, was the anti-Cosmo. Cosmopolitan was all about “Do this to please your man” or “try this to make him moan,” basically making women into drooling, fem-bots whose only goal in life was to please their partner of the night. Glamour was different… it was empowering women to go out and make something of themselves and rule the world. Glamour still has that at it’s heart, but it seems to have morphed into Glamour’s wanna-be tag-along friend.

Glamour still writes about the hard hitting issues, but it usually involves women in “those other” countries. Women facing brutality because of religion, Female Genital Mutilation, Women getting torched because their husbands don’t want to be married to them any more, etc, etc. But then it will turn around, and white-wash serious issues that their readers may be facing. Some of the things in the September issue that just pissed me off:

pg. 266 Talks about the Birth Control that your OB/GYN uses (IUD.) Explains how it works with respect to sperm motility/ sperm environment. Where it is placed, how effective they are, price, if your guy will feel it and how it feels getting the piece inserted, but NOTHING about the SIDE EFFECTS or who SHOULDN’T use one! From American Pregnancy Association:

An IUD should NOT be used by women who:

  • Have or ever had cancer in the uterus or cervix
  • Have unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • May be pregnant
  • Have pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Have a history of ectopic pregnancy
  • Have Gonorrhea or Chlamydia.
  • Are not in a mutually monogamous relationship

Potential side effects from using an IUD include:

  • Mood changes
  • Acne
  • Headaches
  • Breast tenderness
  • Pelvic pain
  • Cramping (copper IUD)
  • Increased bleeding during menstruation (copper IUD)
  • Nausea

Emphasis mine, because if you have read a Glamour or Cosmo, you know that a mutually monogamous relationship is NOT the norm.

pg. 274 Article is titled: “Everything you don’t know about your Lady Parts… but Should!” and had a pic of a nude, from the waist down, woman holding a rose at her mons pubis. Pg. 277 starts a series of questions from readers about their “lady parts.” Because Vagina is too much to say. And has pictures of subliminal vaginas (even one in an orange cross-section.) One question in the section was about vaginal discharge and how it changes throughout your cycle. Now, I know that not everyone is anti-birth control like I am, but wouldn’t this be a great jumping off point to even mention Natural Family Planning? But it’s probably better that it was not… back to the whole monogamous relationship thing. The closest they came was to say that, “after you release an egg, discharge gets cloudier and thicker. ‘All the better for catching and trapping sperm, which your body naturally wants to do.'” Wait… my body is giving me natural cues that aren’t masked by synthetic hormones?? No. Way.

There is a redeeming factor in the “Lady Parts” article. Have you heard of “The Barbie?” Yeah, me neither, before I read this article. The Barbie is a type of female genital cosmetic surgery in which the total labia minor (the inner lips of the vulva) are surgically removed. WTH?! But it gets better, doctors can continue on and remove the fatty mons pubis (the mound you see when you look down at your toes and you are nude) via liposuction and the prepuce of the clitoris (protective skin around the clitoris.) Thank You, Porn Industry.

In case you were wondering, the World Health Organization defines Female Genital Mutilation as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” If it walks like a duck… and sounds like a duck…

Pg. 375: The Piece de Resistance… The number one thing HE wants in bed. “Fellatio, blow jobs, going downtown, giving head…” The article goes on to talk about how great it is and how empowering it is and how only “10-20% of women felt disgusted or bored by it.” The article runs about 2 pages long, with a nice Red Rocket popsicle melting for a graphic along with “Blow Job Milestones in History,” but only a narrow side bar about the RISKS associated with Oral Sex. Hmmm.

So, yeah. Glamour I am so over you, but at the same time, shame on you for filling the heads of tweens, teens, and twenty-somethings about how this is what an empowered woman looks like. In your pages, female empowerment means sleeping around (just make sure you have the “right” birth control,) getting your dues at the office (but don’t be a b*tch about it,) and doing it all (as long as you keep him happy in bed.) Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll stick to my Good Housekeeping.

(But I will say, without Glamour, where will some of my posts come from?)

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Filed under feminism, political, Tuesday

A letter to His daughters

Father’s Day is right around the corner and I thought that this would be the perfect time to share this one with you. This coming Saturday will be the last Mass, at our Parish for one of our priests, Father Christopher Martin. He has been appointed to a new position within the Archdiocese as the Director of the Office of Vocations. While he will be very much missed at our church, he is going to excel in his new role… especially since he is such a shining example of the priesthood. You can read a little about him, right here.

Anyway, about two years ago, I worked with Father Martin organizing a series of talks for the women of our Parish. The four talks revolved around the phases of life that a woman goes through and how it parallels her spiritual life. The topics were:

1. Daughter of God

2. The Wifely Vocation

3. Mothering

4. Being a Child of the Spirit

The talks were fantastic because we were challenged to look at ourselves in different ways, to look at ourselves through the eyes of our Heavenly Father and it was also a gentle reminder that we are called to be wives and mothers, that we don’t just choose that route. Just as easily as I was called to matrimony, I could have instead been called to be a religious sister.

For me, the highlight of the “Daughter of God” talk was a letter that Father Martin read to us. Let me explain the origin of the letter. He told us he was sitting in Adoration, praying for wisdom and guidance as to what to say to the women. (If you are a non-Catholic reader, Adoration is a time when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed and one has the chance to sit in the Holy Presence of Jesus. It sounds odd if you have never experienced it, but once you have experienced it, it is amazing!) He said that he began writing and writing and when he stopped, a letter was on his notepad. For you skeptics out there, I personally have experienced this in Adoration. While everyone experiences Christ differently, I always take pen and paper because my questions and concerns are written out for me. It’s hard to describe, but I can really tell the difference from my own thoughts and the thoughts that are coming from God. I asked Father Martin if I could share the letter with you because I refer to it often. I have it printed on pretty cardstock and it hangs where I can see it in my bedroom. It’s great for a pick-me-up when I am down and Father says to share away as the words are God’s words, not his.

So without further ado, here’s the letter. Share it as you please, but please do not change the wording. And if you are asked where it came from, you can attribute it to “God, as given to one of his young priests in St. Louis.”

Postmark: Heaven 2009

To my dearest daughter,

How pleased I am with you, and with this opportunity I have to speak with you directly! My voice is often drowned out by the busyness of your life, but even greater still by the lies that you have been told and begun to believe about yourself, and in turn, about me. So let me be clear…

You are beautiful. You are the masterpiece of my creation. You are not an afterthought or a solution to a problem. You are my delight. Before time began I loved you and I love you still. You are beautiful because I am beautiful and you are a reflection of me. If only you could see yourself as I see you! Your body expresses life; receptive and nurturing. Your soul reveals my wisdom, my compassion and my grace. You heart reveals my mystery. You are gloriously mysterious, and I alone comprehend the fullness of your mystery.

You are worthy of my love. You are desirable. You are my desire. My enemy has attacked you through the actions and inactions of some of my sons. Their own struggle with self-worth, insecurity and weakness gives rise to objectification, neglect and abuse toward your beauty. Do you see how these wounds affect you? Their doubts cause doubt within you. But I have no doubts, no regrets. The shortcomings of men do not define you. I define you. I am wiser, stronger and greater than any man. For I am Wisdom, I am Strength, I am Greatness and I delight in you.

Allow my Son to heal you. His love is my love. His healing touch is my healing touch. He is the true man. He restores you and makes you new. With Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him, for He speaks Our truth… Your truth. He stands before me now and speaks of you. I send Him to you so that you may know this important truth: You are not alone. You are not abandoned, nor will you ever be. We are with you always, my dear one. You are my precious daughter, and that will never change.

Looking forward to having you home,

Dad

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Happy early Father’s Day! And Thank You, Father Martin!!

Pax Christi!

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Filed under Catholic, fathers, monday, Spirituality

Summertime Modesty: Not Impossible!

It seems as if this week has been all about body image, gender and modesty. Wow! Well, let’s round it out!

Modest dressing is easy enough to do in the wintertime; especially if you live in chillier climates but come summertime, it seems as if all sensibilities kind of go out of the window! Yes, summer is hot but that’s no excuse to stop dressing modestly, if that is your goal.

For me, when I put an outfit on, I ask myself if I am dressing to attract the attention of men other than my husband. If the answer is yes, I change. Maybe you are one that that standard is not for you. You may feel that we as women should not be responsible for the eyes/ actions of men and I wholeheartedly agree, but when I said my marriage vows, I promised to forsake all others and in my mind, if I’m dressing in a way that is disrespectful to my husband or our marriage, I am not staying true to my vows. (I am sure those advocates of the SlutWalk** might take issue with my opinion, but I digress.)

So, if you don’t care what your outfit represents to the world about your marriage, ask yourself, “Would I want my daughter to wear this?” because as her mother you are her biggest influence. If you have sons, ask yourself what message are you sending to your son about women?

Actually, take that last statement and apply it to all of your children, how does your dressing affect their perception of women?

Without further ado, some modest dressing tips for summer:

Undergarments


1. two words, Flesh toned! Light, unlined pants, that are more popular in the summer, are notorious for showing your undergarments, so if you don’t want the world to know you’ve got your polka-dot panties on, don’t wear them or make sure your trousers are lined.

2. Camisoles make great layering pieces, especially when dresses show a bit too much décolletage. The lacy topped once even make your tops that much prettier.

3. Make the half-slip your friend. Seriously. You would be amazed at what “Mr. Bubble Sun” will show when shining through your dress. (That’s DD1’s nickname for the sun.)

Dresses


1. I’m taller so I especially love the maxi dress trend. But it even works for those not so tall ladies. Find a tailor if needed or take the dress up on your own. (If your dress has a major or busy print, you might want to take it to a tailor and have them take it up at the waist rather than just hem it.) What I like about dresses is that they are easier to put on than a tee and shorts and you look that much more put together, plus they are breezy!

2. I personally follow the rule of “one set of limbs out at a time.” So, if I am wearing a  sleeveless dress, I like the hem to be longer. If the dress is shorter, you’ll find my cardigan or wrap not far away.

3. I think it was Stacy London who said it but: “short+tight+shiny=cheap.” and I don’t think she meant garment cost.

Shorts

1. If you can see where your buttocks meet your thighs, those are too short.

2. If your shorts look painted on, they are too tight. I don’t care how thin you are.

3. (Butt) Crack is Wack.

4. Skirts make a great alternative to shorts, but can be hard when you have little kids and you play on the ground with them, but you can make it work.

Tops

1. Bra straps were never and will never be a fashion statement. Whoever said they were lied to you.

2. Bikini tops at beach: good. Bikini top while running errands far from beach: bad.

3. Polyester and Spandex blends make for bad choices.

4. If your shirt proclaims to the world that you are a “MILF” or “Hot Mama” or “Sexy WIfe” you might want to re-think that. In fact, re-purpose that shirt for cleaning around the house. In fact, just make them cleaning towels.

And above all else: BUY WHAT FITS! Ignore that little evil number or letter denoting the size. When I am shopping, I tend to take three of an item into the dressing room. The size I think I wear, one down and one up. Different garments wear differently and different manufacturers size differently. Ladies’ garment sizes are not the same across the board and are  sized very arbitrarily. If the tag bothers you, cut it out or cover it up. An item that fits well will flatter you so much more than that coveted size X. (And make friends with your tailor because they can do wonders with fit!)

Dressing modestly is not about hiding your body, but it is about presenting your body and yourself in a way that command respect from those around you as a person and not a piece of flesh for pleasure. And the ironic thing is, modesty can lend itself to sexiness. Stay with me here: Think of some of the most smoldering movie scenes (Titanic, when they are on the bow of the ship, comes to mind for some reason.) They are hot not because of what they are showing, but because of what they are not. InStyle magazine interviewed fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld earlier this year who said that the sexiest part of a woman’s body is the curve of her lower back. (for the life of me, I can’t find the issue!! But he drew a little sketch with it and everything, it was great!)

And above all, if you are a church goer, please dress for church and not the beach or the club! I know that we are not supposed to judge and if I find myself becoming distracted, I really should refocus on the cross but come on! Yes, it is fantastic that you are at Mass, but shouldn’t you give Christ respect by dressing well? I am sure that it’s a throw-back to my Baptist upbringing, but we never went to Sunday Services in anything less than our… Sunday Best, and I continue that with my family. Yes, you could meet a fantastic mate at church, but do you really want to lure him or her in by being scantily clad while listening to the Word?

So, keeping in mind that these are all my own opinions, I hope it does help you with the tricky summertime dressing!

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**While I agree with the premise of Slutwalk (i.e. no woman is ever asking to be raped by her attire, her behavior, her state of mind) I take the same issue with the recapturing of the term “slut.” When I was teaching, girls called each other sluts and bitches all the time, as terms of endearment. Really? That’s where we are? The English Language has how many words in it and those are the ones that we are choosing to use with one another?

Pax Christi!

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Filed under family, feminism, Friday, manners, modesty, mothering

A few Words Wednesday: Shirt or no Shirt?

I just wanted to share a little scene I saw yesterday at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. It really plays in well with our discussion about gender and all things girl and boy. We were in the Children’s Garden and there they have a little splash fountain area. It was hot yesterday… over 95 degrees and humid, so it was the perfect oasis! OK, here you go:

MOM (to her two children, boy about 5, girl about 3): OK, Have fun you two!

(Son takes shirt off. Daughter starts to take hers off.)

MOM (to daughter): Oh, no, no, no! You can’t take your shirt off. You have to leave your shirt on.

DAUGHTER (in tears): WHY?

MOM: because… because… boys can take their shirts off and girls can’t.

DAUGHTER (still trying to take shirt off): <Inaudible through tears>

MOM: If you keep trying to take your shirt off, we will have to leave

DAUGHTER: (more tears)

MOM (to son): you don’t need your shirt off, put it back on. It will dry if it gets wet.

SON (whining): I don’t want my shirt to get wet!

MOM: (big sigh)

At this point, DDs decided they wanted to play in the sprinklers with this mama. So, we went.

(Now my little editorial… her son had a pretty intense sunburn and maybe should have a shirt on more often.)
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ETA: Now, this mom might have wanted to teach her daughter about modesty, but it really wasn’t the best argument. But as moms, we’ve all been there. Where do you think “Because I said so” comes from?

Pax Christi!

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Filed under family, feminism, manners, mothering, wednesday

Guest Post: A Gender Neutral World

The following is a guest post written by a good friend of mine. Hope you enjoy!

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A friend of mine posted this article on Facebook the other day and it really got me thinking. These parents are trying to raise their 3 children, 2 boys and one child whose gender has not been announced to the world, in a gender neutral world. I, too, have chosen to raise my daughter, now 7, in a gender neutral world. But I also understand that a lot of what makes people male or female is engrained in us and I am not just talking about certain genitalia and hormones.

I have re-read the article multiple times and have decided that there are some similarities between myself and these parents.

  1. I, too, gave my daughter a gender neutral first name.
  2. I have also allowed my daughter the freedom to decide who she will choose to be. One day it will be a pretty, pretty princess and the next day it will be a hard rock/punk girl.
  3. My daughter can also pick out her own clothes from either department in the store. In fact, for Christmas 2010, her new pajamas and robe were straight from the traditionally “boys” department and featured skulls and candy cane shaped crossbones.
  4. I, too, hope that one day my daughter will live in a world where people can make the choice to be whoever they want to be and society will be fine with that choice.
  5. I also agree that children receive messages from society that encourage them to fit into existing societal boxes.

But that is about where the similarities end. My daughter knows she is a female as do all of my family and friends. I wanted to combat the pretty princess toys and pink “girlie” outfits. Well guess what? I lost and lost big time. As much as I didn’t want my daughter to be the girlie girl, she pretty much is. Don’t get me wrong, she loves to hang with the boys on our street and play superheroes, but give her the chance to wear a dress, a pretty hair bow and paint her nails…yes please!

I am all for raising kids in a gender neutral world…I was raised in one. There were no such things as girl specific toys or boy specific toys; I saw my dad cook dinner just as I saw my mom do yard work; and when I was little I had the primary colored room and my brother had the pastel colored room.

I wonder how the family and friends of these parents feel – I guess since no one else can change a diaper for fear of discovering the baby’s gender, they may not mind! I do have one major issue (okay more than one, but this is the one that I will touch on) with how these parents are raising their two older boys, it isn’t the fact that they have long hair and wear pink, but at 5 and 2, should they be responsible for explaining their parent’s choices to the outside world? Talk about undue pressure for little kids. Why should a child be the one to correct a person if said person gets their gender wrong? Maybe the parents could take responsibility for this, but then also add a caveat such as “Jazz and/or Kio are boys, but we leave it up to them to decide what they wear and how their hair is styled.” When people, especially over the phone, mistake my daughter for a boy, I don’t go, get her and make her explain that her name can be either a girl’s name or a boy’s name. I just very politely (and sometimes not so politely especially to people who should know that she is a girl, like the receptionist at her doctor’s office) say, “She is a girl.”

There were multiple occasions when I had to correct people on my daughter’s gender when she was younger, maybe they thought she was a boy because she didn’t have much hair until she was at least 2, but more likely it was because she was in dressed a fire truck outfit (her dad is a firefighter) or once when she had on khakis. My retort to the person after they asked why my baby daughter was in khakis was, “Well, don’t adult women wear khakis?” That quieted her quickly!

As a strong and independent feminist, did I balk when all my 4 yr old daughter wanted for Christmas was a Barbie? Yes I did. But did I march into Target and buy one for her? Yes I did. Okay so it took me about 30 minutes because I would pick it up and five minutes later go put it back down again. That cycle repeated itself multiple times. Why did I do it? Because it is what she wanted – my daughter knows why I am not pro-Barbie, but was so thrilled that Santa got her one that year. So it made my going against my feminist sensibilities okay.

But in my traditionally rebellious fashion, I will more likely buy the “boy” version of the toy before I buy the “girl” version of the same toy. Like this past Christmas, as I was wandering aimlessly around Toys R Us trying to locate the oh-so-coveted Zhu Zhu Pets, I was pointed in the correct direction by a salesperson, but before she told me where to go, she asked, “Is it for a boy or a girl?” My traditional answer came out, “Well it is for my daughter, but it doesn’t matter.” I proceeded to buy a “boy” one instead the overly girly pink or purple version. And FYI, the “boy” version was on sale and the “girl” version wasn’t – that also helped me to make my decision!

The same thing happens at McDonald’s when I, on the rare occasion, will treat my daughter to a Happy Meal. More often than not, my daughter would rather have the “boy” toy. But I always do ask her which one she would pefer. So when the person at McDonald’s asks, “Boy or girl?” I have learned not to say, “It doesn’t matter”, but instead, “Boy”. Because then my daughter will be happy with the toy. It has happened once or twice where I have had to exchange the toy because the cashier has taken it upon themselves to give us the “girl” toy.

But with me it doesn’t just end with toys and clothes, my daughter knows that men and women are equal and in a household (and in the workforce), the men and the women can and should do the exact same things in an equal fashion. Or at least divide the household chores in a way that makes both partners happy. Luckily, she has my parents to model this behavior for her.

It also extends to the societal norm that I probably despise the most…shaving my legs and underarms. Now I will do both, not on a regular basis and usually for a special occasion, but do I curse it every time? Yes. My daughter knows that she can choose to shave or to not shave and exactly why I feel the way that I do feel about shaving. It is because there is no equivalent societal norm that men are forced to follow. People will say…men have to shave their facial hair. Do I prefer a cleanly shaven man? Yes (mostly because the stubble can hurt when kissing!), but do I look down on a man because he chooses not to shave? No. Does society? No. But do they look down upon women who choose not to shave? Yes.  Remember the Julia Roberts hairy armpit incident?

The eldest boy, Jazz, was asked whether some choices that have been made for him upset him (because even though his parents truly feel that they are leaving all the choices up to him, they aren’t), he nodded his head yes. I hope that the parents are happy and okay with whatever choices their 2 boys and one as of yet unknown gendered child make as they grow up.

I am all for raising kids in a gender neutral world, but like everything else, do it in moderation! You want to have well balanced children and I wonder how balanced the children of these parents will truly be. It would be very interesting to come back to these children in 20 or so years and see how they have fared. To see if they are still keeping with the tenets that were taught to them by their parents or whether societal norms have crept in and overcome their childhood teachings. And to what degree both of these different and opposing teachings/norms have had on their lives.

Societal norms be darned as far as I am concerned, but I also know when to pick my battles and realize that some just can’t be fought!
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Hope you enjoyed this guest post. Feel free to leave any comments or feedback for the writer below!

Pax Christi!

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Filed under feminism, Guest Post, life, mothering, Tuesday

Embracing your Inner Hairy Beast

**Warning to readers: This is a post about body hair (including pubic hair,) hair removal, the media and the overall effect on the self-image of women. You have been warned.**

Hair, flow it, show it/ Long as God can grow, my hair

Those iconic words are from the musical “Hair.” Now, I don’t know much else about the show except that the song “Age of Aquarius” came from it and since I am an Aquarius, I’ve always liked that song. But since this post is about the biological material, hair, and not the show, I’ll let you find out about the musical on your own if you are so inclined.

So, I have a confession to make. I am a hairy beast. I say that in all honesty and acceptance and it’s meant to be funny and not at all self-depricating but it’s very true, I am a hairy beast. I have hair on my nose, my arms, my legs, my fingers and toes. I have hair that runs along my jaw and these stubborn wiry chin hairs. I have a ‘stache and a hairy tummy. I blame the genes on my father’s side. After all, most African and Native American tribesmen aren’t overly hairy, but those Neandertalic ancestors of mine from Northern Europe? Yup, hairy beasts. After all, it’s cold in Northern Europe.

I first started shaving my legs in the sixth grade and that was after quite a few years of torment from classmates about my hairy limbs. Want to make an eight-year-old cry? Start calling her “The Wolfman.” For a while, when I was in high school, I was even shaving my arms which, honestly, was just a hot mess (that didn’t last too long.) Waxing of facial hair (eyebrows, upper lip and chin) began when I was 16 or so. Waxing of more “sensitive” body parts started happening when I was in college and when I was 25 I discovered “threading” for the removal of facial hair. Bleaching, Nair, Nads, the scrubby pumice stone thingy, I tried just about every fad out there for hair removal. I convinced myself that after X number of times of waxing, the root would die and the hair would stop growing. (For the record, I am 31 years old which means I have been waxing parts of my face bi-monthly for 13 years… but someday they’ll stop growing.) I shutter to think about the amount of money that I have spent on hair removal. I am kind of glad that I never looked into laser hair removal as I was talking to a woman about it a short time ago and she shared her story of how she shelled out over $1000 for treatments… and it didn’t work! Waxing and threading are both painful and temporary and yet, I keep paying for these masochistic sessions. Why?

I consider myself to be an enlightened, progressive, self-assured woman, but I still want to look good and I want to be accepted and being a hairy woman is not accepted. It is not accepted in this culture… in fact, I can’t really think of any cultures where it is accepted. But I have to say, I had my moments of crazy when my drive for acceptance intersected my drive to be seen as desirable and I succumbed to what was and still is considered to be the hallmark of beauty… the Brazilian Bikini Wax.

I received my first Brazilian when I was 21 or so. It was 2001 and “Sex and the City” was still pretty popular in mainstream culture. I considered myself to be very open-minded and sexually aware so men’s magazines were not strangers to my eyes (besides, everyone had access to the Internet in their rooms so it’s not like one had to travel far to find images.) The message that girls like me were getting was “Your pubic region, as it is, is gross and guys really prefer a cleaner look.” Stop and take a minute to think about that… GUYS prefer a cleaner look. (OK I am sure there are some girls out there who like the cleaner look as well, but I am writing from my POV.) So, in my effort to be as desirous to the opposite sex what did I do? I marched down to a beauty salon and allowed a complete stranger to smear hot wax on some of the most sensitive parts of my body and then unceremoniously rip the hair out, until I resembled a pre-pubescent girl. But do you want to know what no one tells you about the Brazilian Bikini Wax? Without the presence of pubic hair, there is major chafing that happens. When hair grows back, it itches uncontrollably and hair has to be 0.25 inches long before you can wax again. Pubic hair does not grow straight, it kind of has a mind of it’s own and in-grown hairs look disgusting and can become infected. And Brazilian Bikini Waxes? Expensive. I kept up this vicious cycle for almost four years. FOUR YEARS!!

But beautifying your nether regions has become big business. Google “Vaginal Rejuvenation” and you’ll get information on plastic surgeons who will, for a fee, tighten your vagina and nip and clip back your labia (minora and majora) making your lady parts look prettier, just like women in magazines or in film. I don’t know about you, but I can’t tell you the last time I looked at my vulva so I don’t know if I’d consider it to be pretty or not. Now, granted, some women may experience labia that cause them pain because of how far the labial folds protrude, but I guess for me, if it’s not broken, I’m not going under the knife. And the funny thing is, despite all of the testimonies from doctors extolling the virtues about vaginal rejuvenation, absent are the stories from the women who experience recurring pain and discomfort after their surgery. (For those stories, check out American Plastic by Laurie Essig. I was able to get it at the library.)

OK, so if you’ve gotten this far, you might be asking yourself, why is she ranting on and on about this and sharing all of this information with us? Here’s why: DD2, my Dragonfly, is a hairy beast. Has been since birth. It was one of the first things that we noticed about her after my OB plopped her naked, vernix covered body on my chest. She has little furry shoulders, a strip of hair that runs down her back, quite the unibrow and for a while she had a very hairy forehead. I can’t help but wonder what the future holds for her. Who knows? The hair might dissipate as she grows older, it might not. What am I, as a mother going to tell my daughter if she comes to me crying because the kids are making fun of her because of her hair?

I don’t know because I chose to conform to the norm. But consider the words of Sheryl Crow: “If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.” True? False? Something between?
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For the record, I still shave my legs and underarms (more frequently in the summer… once a week as opposed to maybe once a month,) and I still wax and pluck facial hairs. And it still hurts.

Pax Christi!

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The Accidental Lactivist

I was chatting with some girlfriends after my Spin class yesterday, and I told them how over the weekend, we decided to, and successfully, night-weaned The Dragonfly. I told them that I was most impressed that it was not as traumatic as I had made it out to be as well!

For those of you who do not know, we are a family that practices extended breastfeeding and bed-sharing, and many of my lady friends, with whom I was chatting, do not. Some still hold onto beliefs that both practices can be harmful to the child’s psyche, either in the short- or long-term, but I like to acknowledge both practices (but extended breastfeeding especially) as some of my most effective parenting tools. And if I may say so, my girls are great! Now, The Bear (DD1) was night-weaned fairly early in her life (we started out child-rearing a little more traditional. She was in a crib and night-weaned before she was a year. With DD2, we changed it up a bit. Part of it is the scientist in me, wanting to see which methodology is more effective, I guess,) so I didn’t know how it would be night-weaning a toddler who could, very vociferously, protest when she disagreed. Friday night, as she was nursing after bath, I explained to her that her “milkies were going night-night, too.” Overnight, we did have frequent wake-ups and attempts to nurse and one little bit of crying, but she was cuddled and was reminded that the milk was sleeping like she was. Around 3am, however, she woke up and would not go back to sleep. I almost caved. I sang, I rubbed her back, I snuggled… nothing. (You might be asking yourself, where is the MIster? Well, he was not traveling, but he snores incredibly loud and, for now, is sleeping in the guest room until we figure out this snoring. My original plan did include MY sleeping in the guest room and him night weaning her, but he gently reminded me that as soon as we returned to normal sleeping arraignments, I would have to address her as well. Begrudgingly, I relented, knowing he was right.) I heard the Mister get up around 4a (we are early-birdies here, in fact I started working on this at 530a) and by 545a, I shuffled out with her and explained the deal. He took her and I crashed for another 2 hours. Saturday night was that much better, no long stretches of wake time in the middle of the night, just a few reminders of the milk being asleep and we’ve just improved from there. It’s Wednesday morning and we didn’t wake up at all last night. But back to the story…

So, I am telling this tale to my girlfriends, and batting away the negativity with my sword of knowledge when one of the ladies (who, for the record is not a “rah-rah-breastfeeding mom,” like yours truly, pipes up. She says, “I don’t really see the big deal. My DD is 5 and still takes a sippy-cup to bed with her to drink during the night, how is that different from nursing at night?”

Well said, accidental lactivist, well said.
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Pax Christi!

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Neither White Nor Black

I would like to extend a great big WELCOME to the newest subscribers to “Caffeinated Catholic Mama!” I hope I can continue to enlighten and entertain and welcome to the family!
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They met at a jazz bar in Los Angeles, California. The year was 1941. Billy was a ranch hand who dabbled as a singer. Lisa was a secretary.

It wasn’t long before young Billy and Lisa crossed a line which, for most Americans, was unthinkable at the time.

Lisa was white. She had roots linking her to William Clark, the explorer who traveled to the Pacific Coast of the United States with Meriwether Lewis. Billy was black, the grandson of a former slave who had moved to California from Texas in the 19th century. They wanted to get married.

Curious to read how this love story ends? Read the rest here. Thanks for the link, Shannon!
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Read My Letter to my Daughters, as featured on The Feminist Breeder, for my personal story about living Neither White nor Black.

Pax Christi!

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CarLashes… just another part of The Pink Ribbon Culture?

Earlier this week, I took the Swagger Wagon into the dealer for a three-month check up. Yes, I know how insane that sounds, but they told us to bring her in after about three months just to make sure that everything was doing OK, tires were holding pressure, battery its charge, fluids not leaking. The check-up is included in our warranty so my only cost was my time and effort.

My original plan was just to drop of my van and head to a friend’s house for play with the rental car but The Dragonfly got sick so my friend was aminable to The Bear coming over to play solo. The van check up was to only take 15-20 minutes, so we waited rather than getting the rental. While in the lobby, my eyes spotted… something. Actually, I saw it when I pulled into the lot but I thought that it was some sort of sales gimmick. This is what I saw:

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WTH?

I just finished reading Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health by Gayle A. Sulik, Ph.D and the irony was not lost as to what I was looking. Pink. Eyelashes. On. A. Car. I get the van dropped off and head inside and my suspicions were confirmed. The product is called “CarLashes” and they come in black or pink and have clear or pink crystal “eyeliner” that is sold separately. The pink ones at my car dealership are tagged with the additional information to “Show support for Breast Cancer Awareness with our PINK lashes!” Is this what Breast Cancer Awareness has boiled down to, a way to sell women anything while at the same time making them feel altruistic? According to my most recent read… yup.

The basic thesis of Pink Ribbon Blues is this: the pink ribbon culture has brought cancer advocacy much attention but there has not been an effect of improving women’s health. I first began to hear the term “Pink Ribbon Effect” when I was trying to find out why the Catholic Church and Susan G. Komen Foundation were at loggerheads. Looking more into things, a complicated web begins to be woven among cancer advocacy groups, pharmaceutical companies, cancer patients and their families and the consumer and her money.

According to the author, breast cancer “survivors” are in constant “battle” with and for their lives and daily wage a “war” against cancer. The language choice is not accidental, as the prototypical breast cancer survivor has to play the role of the “she-ro:” always optimistic, always thinking of self first and, if the first two do not apply, a certain level of guilt about not being she-roic enough (Chapter 6.) In addition to making survivors into she-ros, the choice of the pink color hyper-feminizes the roles of women, basically boiling them down to just their breasts and equating their worth with their breasts. In the words of Audre Lorde:

A kindly woman from Reach [to] Recovery came in to see me, with a very upbeat message and a little prepared packet containing a soft sleep bra and a wad of lambswool pressed into a pale pink breast-shaped pad… Her message was, you are just as good as you were before because you can look exactly the same. Lambswool now, then a good prosthesis as soon as possible and nobody will ever know the difference. But what she said was, “You’ll never know the difference,” and she lost me right there, because I knew sure as hell I’d know the difference… (pgs. 340-341)

This focus on having breasts and keeping breasts (and thereby keeping external appearances of what it means to be a woman in Western culture) also leads to cute slogans and breast cancer awareness events: Blogger Boobie-Thon, T-shirts that read “I love breasts,” “Stop the war in my-rack,” “Tatas are awesome” (for the guys.) According to the author:

Sexualizing women in the name of breast cancer is only one of the detrimental consequences of many pink ribbon campaigns. They also infantize women and emphasize their traditional social roles. Teddy Bears, rubber duckies and M&Ms are used to comfort and pacify children, yet companies sell them to grown women in the name of the cause. (pg. 373)

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you do know that I have no problem with being feminine and embracing my feminine nature, but I do have to say that I am inclined to agree with what the author is saying about how breast cancer awareness does overly sexualize women. Why don’t we see much by way of testicular cancer or prostate cancer? Is it because these parts of the male anatomy are not secondary sex characteristics and therefore not easily marketable? Why aren’t we selling Action Figures or Toy Cars to Men to raise funds for those cancers?

But, you may ask, tons of money is being raised and going to research to get rid of this disease, right? Well…

…the American Cancer Society publishes facts and figures on cancer in the United States, including incidence and mortality. From 2000 to 2006, the number of invasive cancers rose from 182, 800 to 212,920… The number of breast cancer deaths estimated each year from 2000 to 2008 has averaged 40,314. (pg 59)

The argument could be made that the number of incidences has increased because more women are getting tested earlier and getting diagnosed sooner, but questions remain about mammography including its accuracy, benefit and the long-term effects of radiation exposure. Add this to “pinkwashing,” the tactic that some companies use in which they raise breast cancer funds while at the same time divert attention from the potential hazards, such as producing toxins or chemicals, that may contribute to the disease. Hmmm… kind of like this?

Mmmm… fried chicken. Perfect for combating obesity (which is a breast cancer risk factor.) Oh, there’s some grilled in there too.

So what’s a gal to do? I don’t know. I guess don’t base your shopping habits on where monies may or may not be going. I’ll admit it, I have been a Pink Ribbon shopper (Estee Lauder makes this fantastically flattering pink shade, and I can’t wear pink well and it’s offered during Pinktober… oops, I mean October) but I will say my motivation was mostly for the color. Will we see more transparency in the major breast cancer fundraising efforts? That would make things easier for people to donate. I mean, if you know more about where your money is going, you might be more inclined to donate without the need for a pink thing-y, or to donate just to make yourself feel good about doing your part in the war on breast cancer. From page 375:

The generic survivor has become so central to pink ribbon culture that any survivor will do. A name on a T-shirt or a pink hat is all we need to happy fight the war on breast cancer. The personal struggle of the disease is left on the sidelines, transformed into a transcendent story, or left back at home where no one will ever see.

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Pink Ribbons: Cute or harmful? Do they really do the job or are they just placating the masses? What do you think? I’ve been told I need to read some happier books, by the way!

Pax Christi!

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