Monday, April 23


Recently, Ashley Judd wrote an article in response to the sudden media speculation that she'd had "work" done because her face was puffy.  This kind of media speculation seems ridiculous to me.  Are we seriously so hard up for news that we have to spend time talking about someone's water retention? Honestly, Ms. Judd's response should be required reading for every female over the age of 12.  I appreciate the eloquence with which she addresses this issue.

One statement in particular stood out to me.
"How does this symbolize constraints on girls and women, and encroach on our right to be simply as we are, at any given moment?  How can we as individuals in our private lives make adjustments that support us in shedding unconscious actions, internalized beliefs, and fears about our worthiness, that perpetuate such meanness?"

I realize that Ms. Judd is speaking specifically about body image, and how we feel free to discuss women's bodies, as though they were inanimate objects, but I think that this attitude spreads further than our looks; it spreads to our choices as women and mothers as well.  As a matter of fact, I think that the vehement criticism of women (most often by women) is a symptom of the deep insecurity that we feel as a part of a culture that seems to need constant approval.

In "Bringing Up Bebe" the author describes a behavior as a parent that made me squirm.  Pamela Druckerman described these parents who would follow their child around narrating their every move.  I don't believe that I've ever done that (I really hope I haven't), and I don't witness the behavior often, but I can tell you that Americans live their lives like that child.  We expect that others are watching our every move and they are making judgements on them.  A parent is likely to make kinder judgements than our peers, but a child quickly learns what is and is not acceptable to their peers, and usually they adapt.

We want everyone who is watching us to approve of us.  We want to be worthy of some undefined social construct that has nothing to do with who and what we truly are as women and mothers.  What does it accomplish if other people all approve of your choices and ideas?  Probably not much.

I took my daughters to the mall last Friday.  One fussed while the other wasn't cooperative.  I could feel eyes on my children.  I could feel myself longing for the approval of strangers.  I wanted them to approve of my child, and of me as their mother.  And what did it accomplish?  I lost my temper with my almost-two-year-old, who was only acting like an almost-two-year-old acts.  I will admit it- I was swayed by the perceived judgement of people I didn't know and will probably never see again.  Instead of allowing my daughter to be herself (rambunctious, social, curious) I told her to be a "good girl." To be quiet and conform.  Don't stand out or bother anyone.  It didn't do her any good at all.

Ten minutes later her sister fell asleep and I took the two sweet children up to the mall playground to play.  Not once did my sweet little almost-two-year-old run out of the play area (despite the fact that there isn't a gate, a choice I will never understand) or bother other children.  She played nicely and talked to strangers and smiled at everyone.

This child has no unconscious actions, internalized beliefs or fears about worthiness.  Who am I to instill them in her?

Today I was reading facebook and noticed a big fight some women on a mothering website had gotten into.  Names were being thrown around and accusations made, all because these women disagreed with one another about personal mothering choices.  See?  We don't get better when we get older.  We're still judgmental and insecure.

It makes me sad.  I tried to make this one into a Mother Rule, but as it turns out it's just a mix of all of them.  And it's a plea to other women (and myself!) to remember that you should never listen to the judgements of others as a way to determine how to be a woman or a parent.  I want to be the mom that can confidently allow my child to be themselves because I am confident enough to be myself.

I read this article the other day and I have to admit that this woman has already mastered this one.

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