Her Bad Mother

Saturday, November 3, 2007

But They've Got A Cream For That

Thanks for all of the supportive comments to yesterday's post. My heart was warmed and my hormones stirred in the best way possible by your emphatic insistence that a) I am not the only person in the world who thinks that celebrity claims to au naturel beauty are usually bogus, not least because the celebrity understanding of nature involves cigarettes, botox and wheatgrass juice cut with vodka, b) my fatness or skinnyness has no bearing whatsoever upon opinions of that sort, and c) thin-skinnedness is better that thick-skinnedness because it is less prone to scaling.

For that, you shall be rewarded with more WonderBaby-cum-Mr-Furley:

Also, if your celebrity gossip tastes run more to Bon Jovi, or to skankerrific D-list celebrity moms who think it'd be just fine if their daughters grew up to be topless models, then I think that I can help you out.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Gossip Girl And The Tummy Of Doom

I've said here before that I like me my celebrity gossip, TV talk and pop culture psychobabble. I like it so much that I write, now, for not one, but two pop-culture-for-parents websites. I like it, in large part, because I like poking fun at the whole cult-slash-culture of celebrity, but also because it involves pretty, glossy magazines, television and all variety of mindless entertainment in general. I wouldn't have survived ten-plus years pursuing multiple degrees in political philosophy if I hadn't spent some quality downtime with Us Magazine. Besides, Socrates loved his gossip. He'd have been all over Perez Hilton, for sure.

So I make no apologies. My worst day in the trenches of gossip is like getting an enema for my brain (and believe me, my brain needs regular enemas); my best day yields scads of opportunity for broader reflection about the culture and my place in it. There's no downside to gossip, just all kinds of bubbly up.

Or so I thought. The other day, I got a bit stung by pissy commentary in response to a post that I wrote over at Famecrawler. I don't usually get stung by comments - I've got a pretty tough hide after nearly two years of blogging, and in any case the loudest commenters on pop culture/gossip blogs tend to skew crazy, so they're easy to brush off - but in this case, it got kind of personal, and I didn't like it.

The post? A bit of a rant about supermodel-turned-supermom Eva Herzigova, who recently told the press that she did absolutely nothing to get her pre-baby body back to Victoria's Secret standards after only four months. That, and she stated that this was just the way "Nature" worked for women. "Nature has a way of taking care of things. If you have a certain figure you'll go back to it," she said, before going on to counsel mothers everywhere: "Don't worry about it."

That, I said, sounded like bullshit. The part about her doing nothing, for one. Sure, some lucky women drop the weight easily, but the tummy? The boobs? All the stretched-out bits? Those require work, especially if you're in your mid-thirties, as she is. I noted, in the post, that I had been a skinny-minny prior to pregnancy (at not quite 110 lbs, and nearly 5 foot 9, my proportions were not unlike hers - my doctor told me to gain 20 pounds before she'd start calculating 'pregnancy weight,' because I was 'too thin'), and that I always had been a skinny-minny, but that I wouldn't have been able to get my 'old' body back after pregnancy without a lot of work. I didn't do any work, and although I've lost a lot of weight, I'm nowhere near my former size. And it would take a team of personal trainers to get me back to my former shape (those boobs don't just spring back, you know.) I'm happy with my shape, but it would have messed my head up bad if I'd been convinced, before going through the transformation of pregnancy, that "Nature" would just give me my body back with no effort on my part.

So I called bullshit. I stand by that call of bullshit. Even if Eva Herzigova was telling the god's honest truth and her body did just magically snap back to supermodel proportions, I still stand by that call. Because I think that it sucks when women are told - explicitly or implicitly - that celebrities are super-special, super-gifted beings who just naturally look the way that they do, with no help from trainers or dieticians or private chefs or make-up artists or Photoshop artists or plastic surgeons or good lighting or whatever it is that money can buy and why doesn't everyone look that way, anyway? Doesn't everyone just get their flat tummy back after childbirth? Who me, do crunches? Never! Nature made me this way!

Anyway. I received, almost immediately, a pissy comment about how tiresome it is that people hate on skinny celebrities. Whatever; I see variations on the u hate celerities u suck comment all the time. But then came the comment about how *I* clearly overate during my pregnancy, which is how I got so fat and bitter and jealous of Eva. Then somebody disparaged my ass - which, they implied, was probably fat - and said something similar about how lots of women get their bodies back easily, and that it was just so sad that I was so jealous of Eva. Then another comment or two about my body issues, and my jealousy and my meanness and didn't it just say so much about how petty and fat I must be be to hate on Eva? Then another comment about how I shouldn't have gained so much weight in my pregnancy. Which is just a bit, you know, stinging, not to mention confusing.

I didn't say anything super harshly mean about Eva; I just speculated - emphatically, granted, in a manner not unlike that of Miracle Max's wife in 'The Princess Bride' (LIAR!), but the emphasis was meant to be funny - that she wasn't being honest. I imagined that she probably has personal trainers and private chefs and maybe a team of leprechauns on hand to rub down her super-special thighs with gold nuggets and to rinse her hair in rainbows. I don't think that's crazy talk (excepting, perhaps, the leprechauns, but I can't be sure). Even if she did piss the weight away without even blinking - and I get that that happens, sometimes - what happened to the muffin top? To the boobs? To the stretched-out bits? She's thirty-five years old, not twenty-five. (And if you tell me that some women just have magical elastic skin that they maintain into their thirties and which just springs back to tautness after pregnancy with no effort at all, well, then, I will just have to crawl into a corner a cry for days.) I just don't buy it, and I don't think that it's a helpful message to send to women (if you're special enough, Nature will let you have your body back. Not special? Oh well. You were probably fat to being with.)

So why did some women - they were all women - feel compelled to defend this message, and to assert that anyone - me - who would challenge Eva's claims must be a fat, sad, jealous woman who had probably overeaten during her own pregnancy and who couldn't get over the fact that she'd made herself fat, fatty fatterson?

Do I sound hurt? I am hurt. Not because there are a half-dozen or so women out there who think that I'm fat and troubled (I am troubled; I'm hormonal and barfy and that makes me cranky), but because it rattled my sense of my writerly self. My gossipy writerly self. Was I too snarky? Was I not snarky enough? Did my hormonal weirdness push its way through my words and smear itself across the screen without me even realizing it? Did I actually write a really bad, stupid gossip post? Had I been fat during my pregnancy? Am I going to get fat now? Am I facing a future of bad, cranky writing and fat miserableness?

I know: I'll be fine; this is nothing. But still. My skin is not so thick as I thought it was. That's discomfiting. It really is.

This Is Me At Age Two

Okay, not really. She was supposed to be Mary Tyler Moore, or a stray Caucasian extra from the Foxy Brown movies, but neither the shag wig nor the afro wig would stay on her head, which is to say, the small person in question pulled said wigs off of her head every time I tried to put them on (which, admittedly, I did while laughing at her, which she didn't appreciate. No Mommy laughing!!!)

So she just ended up thusly, a tiny person in a polyester lounge suit (fabricated in Montreal in 1973, according to the label.) She wanted to wear a squashed little porkpie hat with the outfit, but that just made her look a wee, demented Mr. Furley, and I thought that it was probably more poetic that she do her first trick-or-treating excursion dressed as her mother, circa the mid-seventies:

The problem with a costume like this is that, in the city, you could very well come across some kid dressed like this by their hipster parent, which means that not everybody gets that it's a costume. Again, one or the other of the wigs would have helped, but the child has a hair aversion, obviously, and so we were left with this look, which is either a) very avant-garde children's wear, or b) an obscurely-referenced Halloween costume. The little old Portuguese ladies on my street didn't care. They just shouted look at handsome leetle boy! and gave her extra candy. So, you know, it all worked out for the best.


Against my own better judgment, I decided to leap into the frenzied waters that are NaBloPoMo. Against my better judgment, because I'm barely keeping my head above water as it is (or, out of the toilet water, as the case may be), and because I've become the world's worst blog citizen ever, and shouldn't I be spending my time actually trying to make contact with the world, rather than just gazing ever more intently at my own navel? But I never follow my own best judgments, so here we are, and in any case I am very much hoping that the act of putting fingers to keyboard every day will prompt or inspire me to actually write something thoughtful, eventually. And if not, well, at least there's always pictures, and links, and other virtual ephemera, which will all keep me distracted as I struggle to find my way out of first-trimester hell...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Just in case you're lacking sound effects for your haunted house tonight.

Happy Hallowe'en!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Every Day Is Halloween

It is fitting that, as Hallowe'en approaches, I am looking more and more like a zombie. A zombie with a bit of a bulge around the middle, which doesn't seem quite right, but still: I've got the vacant look and the darkly-circled eyes and the pallor of an old white sheet that's been washed once too often with dirty grey socks. Throw in some periodic groaning and heaving and much, much lurching and you've got the barely-living dead, for sure.

That's what weeks of nausea and vomiting and, now, many days of anxiety-induced and nausea-aggravated insomnia will do. I am now the walking pregnant dead. Should be good for scaring the children.

Wonderbaby is ready for Hallowe'en, too. She's going as an extra from the Brady Bunch movie, or HBM-circa-the-mid-seventies, depending upon whether I can get the wig to stay on her head. The thing is, I don't know what to do with her once I've got her costumed. She seems too young for trick-or-treating - and in any case, I'm not keen to get her started on the whole hoarding-candy thing - but she still seems old enough to get into the fun of Hallowe'en.

Last year she went as Sesame Street's lone burlesque performer. We stayed in and I made her dance, but there was NO CANDY.

So do we just keep her in, helping to open the door and give out treats to the little ghouls and goblins and ninjas and bees who come a-callin' (in which case, how do we keep her little paws away from all of the candy that the other kids are getting? I'm anal about candy - for her, not for me. I like candy, too much. I know, it's hypocritical, but whatever) - or what?

Nobody tells me about this stuff. How I am supposed to know what to do?

When did your kids start - or when will they start - trick-or-treating? How do you - will you - negotiate the whole candy thing? Or is Hallowe'en just a big ol' festival of evil and I should high me to a church and forget all this nonsense?

*(Undying - er, undead - respect if you get the reference of the title of this post.)

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Addendum To Vulva (Or, 'Once You Start Talking About It, You Just Can't Stop')

We're still reading The Book at storytime. Wonderbaby asks for it, and in any case, it's become something of a personal challenge to find ways of discussing, with her, the vulva-like flower and the abbreviated erotic haiku that accompanies its image without explicitly discussing, you know, gynecology and cultural interpretations thereof, while at the same time affording ourselves ample opportunity for dirty giggles.

Why flower hot Mommy?

- Because the flower's on fire, honey.

Why flower got fire Mommy?

- Because sometimes, sweetie, when flowers are really, really happy, they burst into flame.

I'd like to thank* the ever-thoughtful Kittenpie for pointing out that Georgia O'Keeffe's Red Canna does kinda look like it's on fire - which, really, makes the whole erotic subtext of the board-book page in question all the less subtextual, to my mind, but still. And, too, I'd like to thank dear Bubandpie for consulting her own experts on this particular text and reminding me that the story continues on the very next page:

Fire truck. You know, to put out the flames on the vulvic lily on the preceding page.

A well-equipped fire truck, too, obviously. Note the numbers.

Nothing eases the heat of a flaming vulvic lily than Number 69.

I think that we've all learned something important about the pedagogy of sexuality, haven't we folks? I'm not sure what it is, exactly, but I feel, strongly, that it's important.


*Thanks, too, to the ever-scorching OTJ, who nicely underscored my point about the inherent lameness of using botanical imagery in depictions of female genitalia by e-mailing me a link to a page with more colourful descriptions. It is, of course, much more, um, vivid to use wildlife imagery than imagery involving flowers and jewels. Although now we have to put away Goodnight Gorilla. (You won't get that joke unless you follow this link. But I warn you, the language that you are about to encounter is not for the fainthearted or excessively prudish. Consider yourself warned.)

*Non-Sexual Miscellany:

1) Sicky preggos out there - I've discovered something that sorta helps the nausea, which at this stage, for me, is a discovery of epic proportions: decaffeinated Lady Earl Grey tea, with honey and lemon. TRY IT.

2) Karen MEG - you've won the draw for some cool Crayola stuff. E-mail me!