Her Bad Mother

Friday, August 11, 2006

Ashlee Simpson and Me

I regret to inform you that today I will continue to stray from my blogging to-do list. But the universe keeps throwing shit at me, and I must respond.

Today, the universe told me this: Ashlee Simpson got a nose-job.

More specifically, Ashlee Simpson went on record in Marie-Claire magazine as supporting quote-unquote real beauty and said things to the effect of "everyone is made differently and that's what makes us beautiful and unique" and helped some inner-city teenage girls make a mural celebrating real beauty while pumping her fists in the air and hollering "what tough mother-fucking bitches we are!" and just generally getting all hopped up on girl power - and then trotted off and had her nose done.

And, consequently, brought something of a shit-storm down upon her surgically-altered head.

Bear with me.

The shit-storm came in the form of, reportedly, some thousand outraged readers of Marie-Claire, who opened their 'real beauty' issues of the mag after Ms. Simpson the Younger revealed her new, better, altered face. Such was the shit-storm that the new editor of Marie-Claire (who was not editorially responsible for the Simpson spread) allowed extra space in the latest edition of the mag for reader letters addressing that matter and stated, on behalf of the magazine, that "we're dazed and confused - and disappointed - by her choice too!"

I'm not going to address questions concerning the hypocrisy of a fashion magazine - no matter how "progressive" that mag - criticizing a celebrity for fiddling with her appearance. Whatever. Marie-Claire has sniffed the armpit of the girl-power market and is going after it. Great. Better than going after the aspiring Pussycat Doll market. But still. It's a fashion magazine. It sells Maybelline (maybe she's born with it... maybe not!)

I don't care all that much about whether fashion magazines grow social consciences. I don't read them for their social conscience (in fact, I'd say that the more socially pious such a magazine gets, the less likely I'd be to read it.)

What I do care about: asking to what extent beauty is socially constructed and figuring out how to shield my daughter from the more pernicious aspects of that social construction. No, I'm not going to do that math here. (Yes, I felt that massive, collective sigh of virtual relief.) What I need to do here is figure out why and how such ideas about beauty matter to me. Figure out why that Ashlee Simpson story hit me in the gut.

To that end... onward to the cliffs of HBM's psyche!

(Deep breath.)

I have always hated my nose. In sixth grade, some tard named Donald nicknamed me 'Big Nose' and it stuck. That nickname had run its course by the time I entered seventh grade, but still, that year of rhino-mockery stayed with me. For years I did everything that I could to avoid being seen in profile: my hands fluttered constantly near my face, and I was ever pulling my hair down over my cheeks as a veil.

I hated how I looked. Hated it. I would have sold my soul, in some painful, angst-ridden moments, to change my nose. To my young, insecure mind, if my nose were smaller, everything would fall into place. My face would be a face, not just landscape surrounding a nose. My face would be a face. Maybe, it would be pretty.

As I got older, I relaxed a little about my nose. Sometimes, when I was feeling dramatic and confident and having a Diana Vreeland moment, I even liked it. But mostly not. Mostly, I thought, I'm smart and funny and maybe sort of pretty, or at least, I might be sorta pretty, if it weren't for the nose...

And then I'd beat myself up a little for obsessing about my nose. Because, you know, cool girls don't do that. Cool girls don't care. Cool girls are proud to be all jolie laide, yearn to emulate Charlotte Gainsbourg, take to heart Marcel Proust's dictum that pretty women should be left to men without imagination.

Cool girls don't care about tiny little cheerleader noses. Cool girls don't care. It's not cool, it's not progressive, it's not bad-ass to care.

But I did. I cared.

I get why Ashlee Simpson cared.

But I wish that she didn't. I really, really wish that I hadn't. That I wouldn't now, ever. And I wish, more than anything, that my daughter will never. Care about her looks, her face, her nose.

I wish this more than anything. That she not be Ashlee Simpson (on so many levels, but for now, let's focus on this one.) And that, in this singular respect, she not be like me. That she not care.

I have two conflicting dreams for my daughter. In one, she inherits most of her looks from her father, who is smashing handsome with a fine straight nose and who is blessed, along with rest of his family, with some serious Dorian Gray reverse-aging genes. In this dream, she never has to give her looks a second thought. In this dream, she never wonders whether or not she is pretty because she is never plagued by the concern that she is ugly. She will be blessed with the luxury of having no need of concern over her looks. She will not have reason to care.

In the other dream - the more powerful dream, the better dream - she inherits my looks, the good and the bad. In this dream, she has my eyes (as she already does) and my nose and my smile and they become her own, completely her own. And she loves her looks. In this dream, she recognizes, early and for always, that she has a beautiful mind and a beautiful heart and a beautiful character and a beautiful soul, and that this beauty radiates from beautiful eyes set within a masterpiece of a face. Her face, her beautiful, unique jolie jolie face. She will care - but she will care well. She will care for herself, her self.

In this dream, it won't matter what the Ashlee Simpsons of the world do or do not do about their magazine-cover faces. It won't matter whether or not magazines or soap companies launch campaigns for 'real beauty.' Because in this dream, speaking about 'real beauty' will mean speaking in redundancies. She'll be perfectly content, happy, to be real, beautifully real.

This is my wish for her, my dream. I'll do everything in my power to make it real.

I'll begin by loving my own beauty.



74 Comments:

Blogger lynsalyns said...

And beautiful, you are, indeed.

This post really speaks to me. I lost all my hair two years ago and I defined my looks by my locks. I had to work hard to find beauty in that bald reflection.

I know of what you speak.

1:00 AM  
Anonymous leahpeah said...

brava. lovely.
xo

2:16 AM  
Blogger L. said...

Is that you?
Where`s the nose?
Seriously -- it`s not even big.

(You want to see BIG, I should post a photo of my "chipmunk cheeks.....now, with extra nuts.")

3:08 AM  
Blogger Mommy off the Record said...

You ARE beautiful. That is a great picture.

I can relate because I have a huge nose with a big bulbous thing on the end of it. I also got made fun of and I also thought that if I could just have a new nose I'd be "pretty". I'm still very self-conscious about it and only take good pictures if the angle is "just right". It sucks.

But as I've gotten older, I've realized that physical beauty isn't what it's all about. Someone can be physically beautiful but an ugly person and vice versa.

I think that Ashlee's old nose gave her face character. Now she looks very cookie-cutter. I guess that's what she was going for. It's just sad that she felt that she had to look like everyone else instead of who she is.

I think your daughter will greatly benefit from your approach to this topic--whether she gets your nose or not.

3:16 AM  
Blogger h&b said...

What a beautiful photo - where is the Cyrano de Bergerac ??

Donald just had problems because he had issues with HIS nose probably ( and he was named Donald, which really sucked )

A fat boy called Liam teased me about being fat in Yr 8. Does that make me feel better ? Um, no, this was over 20yrs ago and i'm relaying it here, in someone else's blogger. Yeah, it still hurts, and I lost the weight already..

Your nose is lovely, and you hooked some spunky Adonis who liked you enough to breed with you ;)

Donald probably sacks groceries and hits on married mommies, failing every time :)

4:18 AM  
Blogger metro mama said...

You're even more beautiful in person.

7:29 AM  
Blogger Ruth Dynamite said...

In tenth grade I intercepted a basketball chest pass with my face. I broke my nose, but didn't realize it until a year later when my pediatrician said, "What the heck happened here?" Oh - guess I didn't really notice.

And that's thing. My nose is still crooked from that basketball, but honestly, I don't notice it. (I notice the bags under my eyes, and the emerging crow's feet.)

I think Ashlee Simpson's mistake was not in getting the nose job (etc.), but in not being open about it. And you? What nose?

7:55 AM  
Blogger Jezer said...

What a fortunate daughter she is.

What a loving, lovely, and beautiful--on the inside and out--mother you are.

8:13 AM  
Blogger Laural Dawn said...

As someone who struggled with the "fat" label since childhood I totally hear you! At 28 I'm still struggling with that - beauty tied into the scale, trying to like myself, etc.
I have sworn not to pass that on to my child.
I don't know how to teach your child he/she is beautiful - despite the comments. I guess you show them it comes from within, and do whatever you can to make them like themself. It's our constant conversation at home. I just don't know.
But, (as horrible as this sounds) I totally followed the whole Marie Claire thing, I strongly feel is was Ashlee's decision, and I actually think it makes her look good. I think it was probably her "thing" and I have to admit that if I had the $$ to fix my "thing" (i.e. weight) I'd be all over it.

8:19 AM  
Blogger bubandpie said...

As someone who has seen your nose IN REAL LIFE, I'll comment on my thought-process as I read this post...

Stage 1: (scratches head in puzzlement): Why does HBM care about Ashlee Simpson?

Stage 2: (reaches bit about hating nose): What? Huh? (tries to remember nose - cannot recall anything except vivid blue eyes, animated expression, and frightening intelligence)

Stage 3: decides that "Ohhhh, this is the post where HBM admits that she got a nose job!"

Stage 4: ?????

8:30 AM  
Blogger sunshine scribe said...

I am with Bub & Pie in that I had to stop during this post to think hard about your nose. Because I could only remember everything else about your gorgeous-ness.

I love this post and your dream for Emilia. We all have our thing. That body part or two that some insensitive 12 year old teased us about and that we can't let go. You couldn't be more right that loving your own beauty is one of the best things you can do to help Emilia love hers.

We love ya both!

8:32 AM  
Blogger Mother Bumper said...

Your nose? Really? I would have never... but I TOO understand. I was told I was ugly by many so often that I believed it. Only recently did I realize it wasn't true. I'm serious. When I read this post I remember that day: I was 14 and so insecure, I'm surprized I could walk the earth without a seatbelt holding me on the planet. I ran out to meet the girls, sans bonnebell lipbalm and princess pink blush, and the head girl announced "damn you're ugly without make-up" and it hit me like a punch in a gut. And stuck with me for YEARS. I obsessed. I withered my beauty both outside and in. But now I know better and thank goodness it's in time to share it with Bumper. But I'm getting off track...

You are g*d* gorgeous and I know that's not why you did this post but I still had to tell ya. You give off beautiful vibes that do not need a picture to remind me or the world. Oh my, I could comment for days on this one...

Our ladies will be handed the best foundation and let's hope their momma's can help build that teflon layer needed to protect us from the Donald's who need to insult in order to make themselves feel good.

I get Ashlee's nosejob, Jennifer Grey's nosejob, all those lip jobs to look like Angelina by countless starlets but it doesn't make it right. I can't preach. I worship at the alter of Sephora and Spanx only sometimes because I can't afford the surgeons. Who hasn't played the game "what would I have done if I won the lottery?".

Amen and another FREAKIN' fantastic post.

8:33 AM  
Anonymous Mother said...

I imagine everyone has a little something they'd like to fix - even if most people wouldn't even notice.

My ears stick out so far I fear they can catch signals from the satellites on Mars. I hated them for many a year.

And the forehead birthmark - loathed that one too.

But then (I forget when) I realized that they were a part of me and I wasn't gutsy enough to change them - so I had better just deal with it.

Loving yourself is the best gift you can give your daughter. I try to watch what I say about my own body image.

I think what's sad about Ashlee is that while she may have hated her nose - being in the public spotlight didn't let her make the changes that she wanted in a private forum. It was like when Jennifer Grey (dirty dancing) got a nose job - whole different person?!

And seriously, it makes her look like a freak now because now Jessica's nose looks gihugic.

8:44 AM  
Blogger Mocha said...

I wish all those things, too, for the people who've come from me for when they dislike who they are they are disliking me as well. It's a none too happy place to be (discontent with your looks) but a place we all end up. How do we get here? Who packed our bags and sent us on our way?

You have a great journey and your daughter has a nice one in store. May it be one of content. When content is a good thing.

8:44 AM  
Anonymous Beanie Baby said...

"In this dream, she never has to give her looks a second thought. In this dream, she never wonders whether or not she is pretty because she is never plagued by the concern that she is ugly. She will be blessed with the luxury of having no need of concern over her looks."

I don't think that ever happens. Ever. Even for the beautiful girls. Maybe especially for the beautiful girls. Beautiful girls are so rigorously policed--what they wear, how they wear their hair, how much makeup they use, how short their skirts are, how many people they've slept with, how soon, doing what--you don't want that for her.

That whole beauty=happiness thing is just an advertising gimmick.

I feel a post brewing....

9:11 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Just to be clear - I'm well aware that my nose isn't terrible. My dissertation supervisor was fond of calling it 'Norman' (as in, the Normans, not a pet name.) Part of my point was that it doesn't take much to fuel a negative self-image in our society - and that there is such pressure to be quote-unquote pretty, that one can easily overlook character...

Hence my second, more desirable 'dream' for my daughter - that she love her looks, no matter what they are. That she have character in spirit and visage, and that she love that about herself. That she come to that love much earlier than I did.

But I'd like to venture the following, for better or for worse (and this should probably be a whole 'nother post) - that children have an easier time of it when they are attractive. I had a good few years of being teased for my appearance in grade school (the nose was just one instance - I was teased for height and skinnyness and unruly hair and big ears) that I would not wish on anyone. This is where I get selfish and superficial - it will break my heart if WB has to go through that. I wish that she does NOT have her character built that way.

9:32 AM  
Anonymous mothergoosemouse said...

First - HBM, your nose is NOT big. You are strikingly beautiful, inside and out. And MOTR, WTF are you talking about? I do NOT remember a big nose - I remember everything about you being adorably petite. Finally, Mother - your EARS? Huh? And I think the birthmark is delicately beautiful.

Looks like I'm not particularly observant, or else my wonderful friends are WAY too hard on themselves. Pretty sure it's the latter.

Anyway. HBM, I too wish for the second dream. That my girls grow to love themselves and care for themselves as beautiful women independent of the ever-changing standards of beauty set by society.

9:33 AM  
Anonymous mamatulip said...

My best friend hates her nose. She wants to get a nose job and I think, some day, she will.

I love her nose. She's got very, very unique features and her nose only adds to that. When she first told me she wanted to get a nose job I was shocked. I couldn't see how *she* couldn't see how beautiful her nose was. But if that's what she wants to do, I say more power to her. You know?

You are beautiful and your nose is beautiful. And I have no doubt that Wonder Baby will learn from you how to embrace her own beauty.

9:36 AM  
Blogger Veronica Mitchell said...

I clicked the "post a comment" button, and instead of the knee-jerk responses of women to other women that we learn in jr high, I find a host of thoughtful responses to the real issues you discuss. And I think, dear, that is your real beauty: the talent you have for pulling from other women's souls the real thoughts and feelings about the things that matter.

My own history with these issues is the dreadfully cliched one of eating disorders and the misery of compulsive behaviors with food. The joyful year of my life when I slowly realized that I was not merely loved, but worthy of love, stays in my head for me to draw on whenever the old self-destructive itch acts up. I fear my daughters will go through the same thing, but I hope, like me, they will be survivors, with the wisdom and compassion survival brings. This is my fervent prayer.

9:41 AM  
Blogger lynsalyns said...

Double-dipping, here, but HBM, I agree with you that attractive kids have an easier time. Before Emmie was born we debated pretty vs. smart and decided if she had to be one or the other rather than both, we chose pretty. Because let's face it, pretty people have an easier road to hoe.

Don't hate me for saying it. I hesitate to voice that opinion, but being in the "moderately attractive and smart" category, I feel this is, sadly, true.

By the way, wonderbaby is beautiful and smart. I can tell.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Irreverent Antisocial Intellectual said...

When we found out we were pregnant with a girl, I was devestated. (Ah, hormones!) But in all sincerity, one of the most disconcerting thoughts I had, and still have, is related to the "beauty pressure" aspect of raising girls.

I was a late bloomer, not one of the "pretty girls," but one of the "smart girls." In my day, you were either pretty and popular or you were smart and plain. I never knew the two could be combined until I was much older and more confident.

But growing up thinking you're "not pretty" is hard - no matter how shallow and silly and insignificant you know in your heart in is, the "not pretty enough" thought always lingers in your mind.

So what do we do with our daughters to keep them from becoming Ashlee Simpson wannabees (i.e.: "I'm pretty and rich and talented and sell records and star on cheesy TV series but yet I still feel like I need plastic surgery in order to be perfect.")? I don't know ... but, I, for one, am starting by not allowing Barbie into the house. (Then again, Barbie is probably still scared of me. My GI Joe killed my one Barbie.)

12:00 PM  
Blogger Bridgermama said...

I think the first step in this revolution should be establishing new role-models for our young girls. No more Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Lyndsay Lohan, or Brittany Spears.

I think your daughter will be just fine, she has you. You can be that important role-model and good mamas are the best ones around.

1:09 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

When Emily was tiny, her father would hold her and coo "You're beautiful" and I would stand next to him and say "Tell her she is smart and powerful and can do anything she wants to do...."

He would look at me askance.

I understood this post deep in my soul HBM. Not being one of the "pretty" ( and in my hometown - skinny) girls I could never figure out what it was they they possessed that I just didn't. If I lost more weight? If I wore different clothes?

The pain of being the self aware girl gives over to being the externally confident woman and then the pain of being the smart mother who fears what her daughter will experience. And yes. When Emily was told by some little evil shit that she was "poor", I about had a conniption. I had dressed her in the best of clothes. Sent her to the best school and she gets an arbitrary comment and I am transported to being nine years old ago. Feeling inadequate.

So, I try to give Emily a base for her to launch from. I don't want to tell her that all people are shitty - but some are. Shitty and small. That men like her father - smart, sophisticated men like women like me ...(and her- someday).

And I thought you are just gorgeous.

1:35 PM  
Anonymous Binkytown said...

I think it's inevitable that your daughter will question her looks at some point, regardless of whether or not you ban Marie Claire from your house, but having you to talk her through it and hopefully reading the words that you wrote will carry her a long long way.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Oh, The Joys said...

You have a beautiful nose... and you are a beautiful writer.

2:05 PM  
Blogger Blog Antagonist said...

I have boys. I have often longer for a girl, but I am realizing that I have escaped a whole host of issues by bearing sons. How to give a daughter a sense of worth and an identity independant of her looks while trying to be understanding and supportive of the inevitable link between the two is something I'm not sure I'm equipped to deal with. It was hard enough when I was a child, and I think it's even harder in this day and age, where social media is omnipresent.

You are beautiful. But it's your brialliance that I am attracted to. :?)

2:05 PM  
Blogger nonlineargirl said...

I am not even sure where to start. Thanks for the thoughtful meditations on something we all struggle with, no matter what our features.

2:23 PM  
Anonymous Beanie Baby said...

Believe me, HBM--I was tormented for being ugly, and then I was tormented for being pretty. It's no better.

3:18 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

You're totally right, BB, in that torment of any kind is terrible. Doesn't matter why. And I certainly saw attractive kids get targetted from time to time.

But more often it was the quote-unquote funny-looking kids, or awkward kids, or chubby kids, or kids that dressed funny (this was also me - I had a penchant for dress-up that didn't always go over so well) or smart kids (also me - got smacked around the playground once by a big girl named Carrie-Ann after I won a in-school spelling bee).

Kids that stood out got picked on. But I don't want to wish that WB NOT stand out.

I just wish that no matter who she is, or how she is, she'll be comfortable in that skin.

(DO do a post on your experience of this - I'll look for it. I'm eager to continue this conversation.)

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Onetallmomma said...

Your nose. My ears. My name was Dumbo.

That was a wonderful post. Thank you. As the mother of 3 daughters I often struggle with the questions and the dreams for them.

I have come to realize that the best example I can give them is how I react to my own body. I never vocalize about my weight or looks other then to say, if they ask, the I love what I have. And saying makes it so. They love the squishy parts, the gray parts, the soft parts and the hard parts of me. And now, so do I.

They also know that a persons true beauty is found in the eyes and in the soul of a person. Because I have been telling them that for years and years.

Oh, and they are not allowed to look at popular magazines and TV...yet. They will get a fist full of our culture soon enough.

5:13 PM  
Blogger Lena said...

Gosh. I have such mixed emotions about this subject. I HATE my nose. More than anyone ever has before.

I think you're gorgeous. I've also seen you in person and you're even more gorgeous! And your personality! Awesome.

I also understand how you feel though. I think it's okay to love your physical self and still prefer to change things if you can. But, this should never ever be confused with changing "who you are". Just because you choose to alter things about your physical nature, it doesn't mean you're not accepting yourself - your spirit remains unaltered. That's what matters.

Keeping body image and self image separate is the ultimate goal. If they're TRULY separate, then plastic surgery is a non-issue.

5:49 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

I think what made it worse with Ashlee is she had been doing a good job of doing the more rock-n-roll authentic thing and staying away from the plasticity of her sister's image until she got smacked for lip-synching. Disappointing.

As for you? Love that picture. I know it doesn't help your brain to hear us all say it, but your worries are for naught on the nose front.

I love your dream for WonderBaby, and hope that looks don't have to be an issue for Pumpkinpie either. But... here's the thing. Even us who have regular enough features to pass the pretty mark without being so perfect or interesting to wander into beautiful territory with its own pitfalls - even those of us found things to stress about. Big hips, crazy hair, pimples, later wrinkles...

So while I totally share that dream for my girl, I'm sad that it's just that. So I also think it's fortunate for both of our little girls that they are likely to be cute enough to only have to focus in the minor frills and avoid the teasing.

6:02 PM  
Blogger Pattie said...

I think it is so hard as women to not care about our appearance when it is shoved in our face (no pun intended) everytime we turn around. Our society teaches young girls to care about how they look. I think in Ashlee's case it is even harder. She is in the entertainment industry. The focus is more on her looks, and magazine articles comparing her looks to her sisters can be damaging. Let's not forget, she is just a kid, and probably insecure at that. As the mom of two daughters, I am conscious of raising them to be confident, and not focus so much on appearances. But in reality, when they get out there in the world, I am going to have no control over what other's say to them or the images that are thrust at them. I only hope I can build them a foundation strong enough so that they won't care.BTW, I fail to see anything wrong with your nose. I think you are like most of us...harder and more critical of yourself than others are of you. You are a beautiful lady.

7:08 PM  
Anonymous Exiled to Canada said...

I have a son, so my concern tends toward the bully/ target of bullying. I don't want him to be either one. My better half and I have discussed it and decided that martial arts is one way to counter act the behavior. I have a 2nd degree blackbelt in a rather vicious form of karate (got it in college because frat boys are scary) and have trained in various other styles, so I have some experience to draw from in finding the right place for him. It's not the answer for eveyone (or for every child) but it just seems (at the moment, we reserve the right to change our minds) to be the best way to give him self confidence while tempering it with a respect for others.
We're discussing having child number two. If it's a girl, I know we'll be having the same concerns you are about self-image and self-confidence for her.
I find it a bit annoying and ironic that a magazine that undoubtedly publishes air-brushed photos of celebs and models on a regular basis is calling this child out for having a nose job....

7:30 PM  
Blogger Mayberry said...

I have the same response as IAI did...this is by far one of the hardest things about having a girl. Then again, I also have a boy; and part of my job in raising him, as well as his sister, is to help them become whole people who appreciate the wholeness of others.

I'm going to follow up on this on my own blog because it
s related to something I've been puzzling over.

9:49 PM  
Blogger Jaelithe said...

I know people keep telling you this, but you have a perfectly normal-sized nose. Seriously.

Still, I know how you feel. I always felt like the ugliest girl at my school. At every school, until college. I criticized every single part of my body. Because at one point or another, I'd been teased about practically every part of my body. I hated the way I looked.

And when my son had to get surgery that left a scar on his beautiful face (it's small, and you can barely see it in photos, but it's there), I actually said out loud to my husband, "I am so glad he is a boy, because as a boy, few people will make fun of his scar. And if anyone does, he can claim it's a badge of honor, that means he's tough, and the other boys will probably back down. But if a little girl had a noticeable scar on her face, she'd be teased about it for years."

And I felt terrible just thinking about it, let alone saying it, but the sad fact is, it's probably true. I wish it weren't.

(I also worry that if we have a girl later on, and she's not a redhead, she'll be terribly jealous of our son's red hair).

10:16 PM  
Anonymous Much More Than A Mom said...

You're gorgeous. And funny. And sensitive. And a great mom.

I just moved to www.muchmorethanamom.com. Come check out my new digs when you get a chance.

1:48 AM  
Anonymous Izzy said...

I know having me tell you this was not the objective of this post, but I don't recall there being a single thing wrong with your nose. Seriously. But by the same token, I hate my own nose, so I understand.

And the whole beauty thing confounds me. I don't even know where to start with it and wherein it affects my daughter it is even more confounding. I just tell her, when the topic comes up, that being pretty should is not as important as being a good person. I don't know what else to do. I wear makeup. I look in the mirror with disdain. How do I save her from the "tyranny of beauty" as it's sometimes called, without being completely hypocritical about it?

2:39 AM  
Blogger mo-wo said...

When I was younger I worked with a dad of 3. I mocked a book our library shelves called 'why raise ugly kids' or something like that.. He, a odd looking, radiant and lovely man, said to me well why.

I thought about my dear brother's weight problem and how he always stuggled more with the attention paid by family than outsiders really. How I wished he had more breezy support and confidence about what was good about his appearance. That it probably would help him in lots of unexpected ways to love him SELF, which is more than logical.

I am resolved to teach my children to see their beauty and never let them take the bait of self criticism in the esoteric. It is a wish and work.

This from someone who can't really look in a mirror at herself outside of one the size of that hanging about my dashboard, ha! One more parenting goal..

7:03 AM  
Blogger julia said...

Y'know, I read your blog and I sit in my chair, muttering to myself "Why do I even bother trying to write?" I love reading what you write. It always makes me think and it's always so well done. It also makes me a bit jealous, but there you go.

This was such a great post. I have some serious body image issues and am really striving not to pass them along to my girls. Thanks for writing this - it sort of stiffens my resolve.

9:12 AM  
Blogger canape said...

If you think about it, ugly or pretty has very little to do with it. Girls make fun or insult other girls for one reason: they need to feel better about themselves.
I was made fun of for my disaterous fashion sense, or lack thereof. In turn, I made fun of the girls who all dressed alike.
I was made fun of for my "don't care what I look like" attitude. In turn, I made fun of girls who "wasted" their time primping in the mirror.
It's not just about teaching our daughters to accept themselves, but to accept the differences in others too I think.

10:29 AM  
Blogger Piece of Work said...

I agree with martstar, that is not just beauty that girls get teased about. Maybe beauty is a stinging point for a lot of people, so it's an easy place for bullies to start. I never felt interesting enough or tall enough or funny enough. I was always overlooked and I wished that I had some way to stand out, to be noticed.

I'm not convinced there's anyway to avoid this altogether for our own girls (or boys, I guess). Encouraging them to love themselves for their outer AND inner beauty, for their accomplishments, for their interests--this will all help. And teaching our children to be kind, and to appreciated all the nuances of people will help (though I think even the best laid intentions and the best hearts get clouded by insecurities in high school)
I don't know of anyone who survived the teenage years without ANY of this type of angst, and maybe that's a good thing. Maybe surviving that teaches us that we are strong.

12:05 PM  
Blogger BabyMakes3 said...

This post spoke to me. The memories of being teased about my nose in childhood still haunt me. And the fluttering hands? I totally did that. Like you, I pray that my daughter will never be plagued by these body issues. Really, I hope that she has her daddy's nose. Because then it would juse be easier.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

I read your post and kept nodding in agreement to several things you wrote.

Celebrities are unintentional role models. Meaning, they are famous and they influence others whether they intend to or not. So Ashlee Simpson getting a nose job might signal a teen girl that her looks are inadequate and she should have plastic surgery, too. And maybe it is a false sense of "ugliness" in that teen girl's mind.

But then again, if I were truly unhappy with my nose or my breasts or my wrinkles (when I'm 40 of course) who's to say it's wrong for me to have a nose job, breast implants and botox?

It's such a catch 22. I believe we are all beautiful. Inside and Outside. But I also believe we have a right to be happy. To be confident, to feel and look great. And if we make decisions to have some help in those areas, who is anyone else to judge?

God, I'm rambling again. And my comment probably made no sense!

This really was a great entry, it really made me think as well.

5:14 PM  
Blogger Juliness said...

Excelent, excellent post! You've touched on tender spots we all have and are loathe to pass on to our younger sisters, nieces, daughters, etc. Bravo!

(Can you hear my applause? Cuz if not, I'll cheer louder!)

6:22 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Chicky said...

Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES! All of it, the whole thing, yes.

I actually tried to come up with a better comment than this but, after a full 24 hours, I still can't think of anything better than Yes. Wonderful post HBM. You are one beautiful woman.

10:58 PM  
Blogger GIRL'S GONE CHILD said...

It's funny because I was always mocked for having GIANT boobs in high school. I was the "biggest whore" in school of course because I had DDD tits and the older guys liked me and so I went my entire high school carreer (heh) wiping the garage doors of whipped cream. COCK-SUCKING whore isn't something you want the neighbors to see and it was awful. I hated having boobs and I hated that it was all every one saw. I was "popular" in HS and pretty confident when it came to boys and sexuality but on Homecoming night when I was waving to the stupid crowd in my stupid tiara in a stupid convertable, the away team of the bleachers started chanting "Nice Tits, Homecoming Queen" and I was horrified. I left the game early and went home and made an appointment for a reduction the next day. I was 17. I hated my boobs. And I have never regreted the decision I made, even after having to have the surgery redone (they grew back) and even after I couldn't breastfeed.

I loved your post. I think embracing ones beauty is sooooo important and motherhood has done wonders on my body-image for sure but it's a tough call. If I ever have a daughter and she gets my big boobs and she hates them I will gladly make an appointment for surgery so that she doesn't have to go through that.

I'm sorry I'm totally writing an essay in the comments, HBM... Perhaps I just post about it on my blog, Ha!

Anyway, Bravo as usual. You are BEAUTIFUL and your beauty radiates through your words, always inspired and inspiring

1:15 AM  
Blogger Lady M said...

Beautifully written, as usual. And I was thinking just what bubandpie said!

On a more serious note, I agree that children (and adults) have an easier time when they are attractive. It's no guarantee of protection - almost everyone becomes at target at some point - but the beauties will often get a second chance, second explanation, etc.

I wish for my child to be secure about himself, his personality, strengths, skills. And I also hope that he'll escape the bullying that's so common.

4:06 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Spectacular and honest. Perfect.

I can only assure you(as Im sure others here have) that imperfect looks build character. Those cheerleaders with the cheerleader noses? I came back to my hs reunioin and realized they all peaked in hs. There's something about being unconventional that forces you to rely on more skills than your looks. And while that's small comfort when the Donalds of the world try to bring you down.

Ashlee? Yeah, I see the hypocracy. But maybe it's a faster route for young fans to realize that Hollywood is not reality, and pr is not the same as truth and celebs are not role models.

I'm more upset by the fact that she people buy her albums despite the fact that she sucks. How many talented artists can't get deals because one sister of Jessica is in their spot?

9:05 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Yeah, didn't proofread there. So much for me relying on any skills.

9:06 AM  
Blogger Janet said...

Let's be honest. Someone in her PR dept sat Ashlee down and explained to her the way the game would be played. You can go on like this, being the cute punk, younger sister, or you can revamp your look and give your sister a run for her money. She chose the latter.

But let's not be fooled. I don't think Jessica is exactly untouched, either. As is at least half of Hollywood. Yes, the same exact people who spout exactly the opposite.:(

9:49 AM  
Blogger owensmomma said...

You are beautiful!!

I love reading your blog! It's funny, intelligent and just so likeable!

I think we all grow up hating certain things about ourselves, our weight, our names, lips, eyes, etc. You name it, as a teenager, you probably hated it.

Magazines, media, all have a hand in telling us what beautiful is and what beautiful isn't. I've decided to write my own definition because quite frankly, we aren't all perfect size 6s with perfect features.

To me, the imperfections are what make us beautiful.

~Kellie

10:49 AM  
Blogger Andrea said...

The celebrity spotlight is so much more harsh than reality as far as looks go, and I am not surprised Ashlee Simpson bowed to the pressure of a new nose.

I understand your sentiment here immensely, and I think you look fantastic. Your nose gives you character and keeps you from being cookie cutter. And most of all, it FITS you.

But I understand some of the other side of the coin as well. I've had a breast reduction. I was wearing a bra by the time I was 9 and I just didn't stop growing when I should have. Pre-reduction, I probably came in at a FF, or at least a EEE. I never fully knew my measurements because I was afraid to get properly fitted. I was already too self-conscious to admit my chest was pretty. I knew walking in the grocery store that the looks I got weren't admiration. The looks bent more towards awe and a hint of horror, as in, "Oh my word, that must be difficult to live with. Lookit her! How does she find clothes?!"

Of course, my case was extreme. I'm only 5'3". I wore a size 9 jeans in high school, and still had an E cup. So, the decision to get them reduced was easy, not to mention geared toward back and neck pain relief as opposed to the perfect C cup. Now, I'm a DD. I'm not perky, and I'm not perfect. But at least I'm in the spectrum of normal. I paid a price, too, by way of the scars and sacrificing breast feeding. But when people meet me now, I'm not the chick with the boobs. People notice ME now, because this is the me that was in there all along. I'm comfortable with myself now.

12:51 PM  
Anonymous wordgirl said...

I hated my nose,too, though I'm glad I waited for the rest of my face to grow into it. I honestly can't imagine my face with a small nose now. It just woulnd't fit. I think you're beautiful.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

what a beautiful woman you are! and thank you for such a timely and thoughtful post.

3:42 PM  
Blogger lildb said...

damn straight.

7:44 PM  
Blogger Lisa Goldstein/Kelly Kelly said...

You are beautiful and so is your writing.

Lisa

10:57 PM  
Anonymous Amanda said...

Fantastic post. Beauty is more than skin deep.. sometimes it just takes a lot longer to see that when it comes to our own self.

It's funny, because as I was reading about your covering your cheeks with your hair, I remember doing the same thing. From about age 11 - 14, I thought my nose was *huge*. Any photograph there is of me at that age, I am covering the bottom half of my face (nose down) with my hand/hair/whatever I'm holding). I'd forgotten all about it until now.

5:04 AM  
Blogger Summer said...

First I'd like to say your nose in NOT big. You're beautiful and part of that beauty is knowing where beauty really comes from.
I have so much to say on this that I will posting something soon. You have definitely made me think. Such a sensitive subject for all....uniquely beautiful and standardly beautiful alike.

3:44 PM  
Anonymous Tina C said...

A boy in 4th Grade used to make fun of me for having hairy arms. at the time i took it to heart and hated my hairy arms, never thinking 'what a stoopid thing to make fun of someone about.'

recently i was recounting this boy to friends, and it was pointed out that he 'probably liked me' that's why he was making fun. duh. although since elem. school i had finally come to accept and love my hairy arms, it made me feel better to know that's what was probably happening.

Anyway, maybe that's what Ronald was doing to you too??

4:54 PM  
Blogger something blue said...

That powerful dream that you have is a force to be reckoned with.

To never feel those taunted teasing words about our own appearance and to deal with those repercussions. The horrific words get stuck into our psyche and it is hard to push them out. To watch our own mothers struggle with their desire to stay slim and youthful not fully accepting their own physical appearance is damaging to a child. The media then tops off our unworthiness and the desire to achieve the impossible.

I want my daughters to fully recognize the complete beauty of their souls as well. It is in acceptance and comfort that beauty radiates.

1:37 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Davis said...

With two sons, I am more concerned about how they SEE beauty in women than in how they look (I am already convinced they are going to be dashingly handsome like Teresa Heinz Kerry's sons).

But I have struggled with my own self-image most of my life. I have scars from 3rd degree burns on my thighs (a fondue pot spilled on me when I was four), and this was a source of great angst and some teasing through most of my childhood. The options for plastic surgery when I was young were very limited, and would have meant scarring on another part of my body to "transplant" my own skin over the scars, so I passed. Now I'm sure there are better options, but the scars have mostly faded. Mostly. And the older I get, the more I find there are other parts of my appearance that bother me much more than these scars.

BTW, the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty was honored recently at the NOW conference, to kind of a mixed response from those attending. This is an interesting take on it:
http://pandagon.net/2006/07/23/biggest-disappointment-of-the-now-conference/

3:21 PM  
Blogger Petite Mom Blogger said...

This was one wonderfully truthful post. And even though you didnt write this to hear what I'm about to say I still want to say it. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! And, you are so talented and smart!

I've always always had issues with my self. I'm so much smaller than everyone ( 4'9 and less than 90 pounds) and people always say how young I look and I dont like it. They think I should like it but actually it bothers me alot. The hardest part of all is that I dont get taken seriously and that I find it hard to make friends because of my looks.
Looking this way was torture for me in high school.

My 5 year old son took his height after me and it hurts me so deeply because I dont want him to ever go through what I did. I know being short will even be harder on a boy. I have even went so far as to checking into to hormone/growth treatments for him but ultimately decided against it after we were told that he actually wouldnt be as short as me.

Either way, we all have issues about ourselves and it is sad. Having children has changed me and made me feel so much better about myself but it wont make me forget.

6:06 PM  
Blogger sweetney said...

pretty, pretty lady.

2:45 PM  
Blogger Stephanie T. said...

What a lovely, lovely post, and I have the same dream for my daughter (and, hell, for myself!)

11:14 PM  
Anonymous Nancy said...

Ashlee should have thought about what happened to Jennifer Grey after her nose job...

I know for me my ultimate goal with my girls is to teach them to love themselves, so that the criticism/praise they get from others won't be the reason they try to dress/act/look a certain way. It will be a hard lesson to teach since I struggle with my own self-esteem issues. But oddly, I love myself more (as is) as I grow older -- so hopefully my message will not be a hypocritical one.

6:29 PM  
Blogger Haley-O said...

HBM, for some reason, I didn't see any of these new posts! I was wondering why you hadn't written since the breastfeeding post! Sorry...Anyway, you are beautiful. And you're a beautiful writer. No one can get writing-surgery. You have a natural gift. That's a beautiful thing. Our society needs to stop obsessing about our bodies....And focus a bit more on inner beauty (I know, obvious...). You're gorgeous by the way. I think your nose is lovely! But we're always our own worst critics aren't we....

12:13 AM  
Anonymous Jen said...

I can't even tell you how much this post touched me. Take a look at my story of My Beautiful, Bald Little Girl about 3 posts down on this page and you will know.

http://urbanmoms.typepad.com/urbanmoms/2005/09/index.html

Thank you. I have the same dream...both of them.

8:54 PM  
Blogger toyfoto said...

Late to this party, but I wanted to compliment you on a wonderful post. It is sad that people have an ideal they feel they must live up to, but I think it's human, too. We make ways to "fix" ourselves, to better ourselves all the time. Education, plastic surgery, diet and excercise ... whatever it is it seems to be a balancing act.

10:17 PM  
Blogger bunmaster said...

durrrr... I can't say anything that hasn't already been said but I just wanted to tell ya I think u r real purty like.

12:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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11:39 AM  
Anonymous blueberry said...

Thank you...your post resonates with me. When I was very young, I was teased for being chubby, and I never forgot others' comments. Now, I'm no longer chubby, but those comments remain with me, and I have trouble believing those who tell me that I'm too slender these days.

8:06 PM  
Blogger S. said...

I spent my elementary years wearing the classic Coke-bottle glasses, possessing a head of frizzy hair that wouldn't "feather," and not always having the right clothes. Peers confirmed my unacceptable appearance to me on a regular basis. One of my most vivid memories is from when I was about 12; I had spent an hour before the mirror and felt fairly satisfied with the result, then went outside and was BARKED at by some older boys riding by on their bikes. Later I got contacts and learned the art of makeup application, and suddenly I was considered reasonably pretty and acceptable, but I have never felt it. I never feel presentable unless I have my hair styled and some makeup on. Now, as the mother of a 7 year old daughter, and two sons, I am exquisitely aware of how my attitudes about myself will affect her and her brothers. They all need me to see myself as a whole, wonderful person, whose worth is not defined by looks. And P.S. the picture you posted is adorable; that kid back in school was as ugly a soul as the boys who barked at me.

1:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

is that your nose or are you selling bananas?

bwah hah ha ha haa

your pal,

The Donald

5:50 PM  

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