Slaves to Fashion

You know I want to talk about Miley, right? But I won’t. Not today. You know I want to relate her recent controversy to my post about small decisions, right. But I won’t. Not today.

My son Jesse is on an early vacation to his grandparent’s house for the week. We miss him, but the girls and I try to use the time for some extra girly extravaganzas. Last night after bath time, I painted the girls’ nails while we fast-forwarded through American Idol. I will also not talk about that. Not today. My daughters’ fabulous aunt bought them the purple polish and they had literally been waiting WEEKS for me to finally let them wear it.

There are few things in this world more difficult than painting tiny, wiggly toenails! But we did it and fingers, too. Ada was so proud of her look that she started planning her outfit for the next day in a matching hue. She’s 4.

You all know Claire. Because of her CP, she has to be careful what kind of shoes she wears and this is an constant source of frustration for her. Her favorite pair of “clocky” shoes (black patent leather – I think her nickname for them must come from the sound they make on the floor) were deemed unsuitable by her physical therapist because of the raised heel. If you could see the face I got EVERY MORNING when we had that discussion!

So, even though I am almost always prepared for Claire to be upset about what kind of shoes she is going to wear each day, I was not prepared for what she said this morning. Walking into my bathroom in her bare feet, she asked me if she could wear flip-flops today. Simple answer: no, flip-flops are against dress code at school and they always rub a blister on your heel. Claire looked down at her skinny toes with sparkly purple tips, “Aw, man! My polish is going to get rubbed off!”

What pains we will go to for the sake of fashion! And it starts so young! (But don’t forget, I am NOT talking about Miley today.)

Which Came First?

On a Radiant magazine blog today, Anna Broadway asks the question, via John Cusack in High Fidelity, “Do we listen to the music because we’re depressed, or are we depressed because we listen to the music?”

Her point relates to a great presentation I heard from formerly honored Rare Rock Barb Wise a few months ago. Barb uses a couple of guys from her audience and a white pedestal to explain her concept of how our emotions are directly related to  our decisions. She puts one guy on the pedestal (a representation of our hearts) and starts telling him how much she has thought about him lately. She bought his favorite candy bars for him and uses his favorite color pen to take all her notes in school. She told all her friends how great he is and put his picture up in her locker so she can see him all the time. Barb turns to the audience and asks, “Right now, are my emotions for this guy going up or going down?”

Then Barb pretends to notice the other guy standing off to the side. She starts to comment about how he’s kind of cute and maybe she’ll start buying him a candy bar once in awhile. And then she finds out his favorite color and starts using it for homework. And so on. She asks the audience, “What is happening to my emotions of this guy on the pedestal? They are going down. And my emotions for the guy standing there? Going up.”

It is a simple example, but the point is clear. We make unconscious decisions everyday that affect our emotions. Unfortunately, in our culture, we are trained to make decisions based on our emotions. One of the most dangerous phrases in our language is the term “falling in love.” Where did this come from? (Seriously, this is a real question if anyone has an answer.)

As a single, I remember being confused by this focus on feelings of love. I would fall for a guy and not understand why our relationship was not working out. Surely, God would not give me emotions of love if we were not supposed to be together, right? I mean, I’ve prayed and prayed that God would take away the emotions if we weren’t meant for each other. Since I still feel “in love” that means God is saying YES, right?

Anyone who is happily married would have told me, Are you crazy!? Feelings are directly related to our personal decisions. I was spending all my time thinking about that guy, dreaming about what our life together would look like. I became interested in his interests. I made decisions for him constantly – of course I was going to develop feelings for him.

So, what do you think? Is it the music? In another post I’ll discuss this feelings/decisions relationship and its power for good, but today I want to know what you think about the problems we face as women, as Rare Rocks, based on this concept.

Rare Rock Profile: Abbey Curran

Abbey Curran is the reigning Miss Iowa and she recently competed in the Miss USA pageant as well. A beauty contest wouldn’t be the first place I’d look for a Rare Rock. Don’t misunderstand me, my sister and I relished watching these contests as a kid. It didn’t matter if it was a small-town festival or the big night on TV when all the fifty states were represented by some perky 20-year old in sequins. We loved it all. But now I’m trying to look for a standard beyond outward beauty to determine winners in this visually driven world.

Our country is obsessed with image and it is affecting the youngest of our girls. (I love Hannah Montanna, but you DO NOT want me to get into a discussion concerning her behavior at the Idol Gives Back show – seriously, don’t make me do it.) You may think I’m prudish about this, but it really is more than that.

One of my beautiful daughters has Cerebral Palsy. Just a few weeks ago Claire begged us to let her quit dance class. I cried when she said, “It’s too hard for me.” Last year she was twirling on the stage without a care in the world and this year she understands that her body is not moving in the same patterns as the little girls around her, including her younger sister. Claire’s left side has high tone, meaning the quad and calf muscles in that leg don’t relax the way they should. It gives Claire a little catch in her step and, until this year, kept her from running.

I’m not one to let my kids quit something just because it gets hard, but this was different. My husband and I had always talked about the fact that someday Claire would realize that dancing is a body-centric sport and even girls without disabilities find it difficult. We knew eventually she would find a hobby that challenged her but didn’t subject her to the prying eyes of an audience that didn’t understand. We didn’t expect it to happen when she was 5!

So we let her quit. She still dances at home with her sister and sometimes just on her own. She is at peace with this and so are we, but you can imagine my trauma for several days. I cried and I was pretty sure we should go out and buy her a fluffy puppy.

Yesterday Serenity told me about Abbey Curran, who also has cerebral palsy, and I watched her appearance on Ellen.

This is a Rare Rock. She is fighting a stereotype and going after her dreams. She has to fight her own insecurities every time she takes the stage, every time she goes to the mall. I showed Claire the video thinking it would be great inspiration, but since Claire really doesn’t comprehend that she has CP, and because it comes in so many different forms, the moment was kind of lost on her.

But I got it. Thank you, Abbey Curran!

What My Computer Sees…

This is what I’ve been doing lately:

That’s me listening to an online lecture from my fabulous English professor (I’m not being sarcastic about that – I love her!). Notice the crazy hair, the intense eyes, oh… and the baby slobber on my shoulder. With research papers looming, this is the view of me that my computer sees most often right now.

This is Claire:

I think my computer might like seeing her a little more often!