Monday, November 24, 2014

Advice for a Thirteen-Year-Old

Ever wish you could go back in time and give yourself some advice? Here's my advice for a thirteen-year-old me.

1. About that boy who insults you and makes obscene comments about your body: I'm not excusing his behavior, but cut him some slack. His dad died two years ago, and he's hurting more than you are.

2. Hang on to those A-cup bras, thirteen-year-old. You'll never need a bigger size. And that's not the tragedy you think it is.

3. Ignore photos in magazines that make models look "perfect." Those women don't really look like that. It's all lighting and make-up. And you won't believe what 2014 technology can do to photos.

4. There will be a movie produced in 1985 called, "Breakfast Club." Go see it. It will give you insight about the kids you go to school with. The ones you think are perfect and have everything together.

5. Every time you hear a friend or an enemy or the media say, "This is what you must look like to have worth," say to yourself, "It's a lie."

6. Do number 5 again because the media will get more pervasive. There's this thing coming called the Internet, and it will spread lies.

7. The good news is that the Internet will also spread truth. You'll write a blog in 2014, and maybe you'll help the truth along. Never mind what a blog is. Just start taking notes now on your smart phone. Wait -- the only phone you have is a plain ol' phone. All is not lost -- including your phone because it's attached to the wall by a cord. Enjoy the good ol' days.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Are cat-calls compliments?

I mean, really, what woman doesn't want to be admired by men for the way she looks?

Syndicated columnist Suzanne Fields writes that recently-elected Republican women are the embodiment of female power, as opposed to women Democrats who, according to Fields, "are focusing on victimhood and crying harassment at every slur and imagined arrow."

Fields mentions a video in which a woman walks through New York for ten hours. (She's not the woman in the photo above. The video woman was wearing a sweatsuit. Not that it matters.) She receives more than one hundred cat-calls from men. Fields scoffs at the idea that it's harassment when a man calls out, "What's up, beautiful?" or "What ya doin' today?"

"There was nothing menacing in the flirtatious banter," says Fields, and she recommends that women "Shake It Off," as Taylor Swift's new song advises.

Ms.Fields is wrong. If my husband or boyfriend says, "What's up, beautiful?" it's a welcome compliment from a man who has earned the right to comment on my appearance. Men who are strangers have no such right, even if it sounds like a compliment. What about a male co-worker? Is he inbounds if he tastefully compliments my appearance? Even that may be inappropriate at the office depending on the relationship. If we are in a group at a bar for happy hour, a polite compliment is probably acceptable if both of us are single. It's flirting. If I flirt back, it means I am comfortable with the gentleman's interest.

But the stranger on the street has no right to make any comment, positive or negative, on my appearance, and I have no right to comment on his.

Perhaps what Fields fails to appreciate is that there are degrees of harassment. Obviously, an unwelcome compliment is not rape. But that does not make cat-calls okay.

It's good to pay someone a compliment on their appearance.

But earn the right first.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Heal the Body Image

Ever watched your body heal?

I was cooking last week when my right wrist made contact with the inside of my oven.

"Ouch!" I quickly ran cold water over the spot. It hurt for a few minutes, and then I forgot about it.  It slowly began to heal. The area turned pink over the next few days and only hurt if I touched it. Then the skin turned dark and began to peel. Now I have a large tear-drop shaped scar with new-pink skin inside a ring of brownish peel. In a few days it will hard to spot the wound.

Have you considered how amazing it is that the body heals itself? Think of the hundreds of cuts and burns you have sustained since childhood. What if they didn't heal? You'd probably be sick or dead from infection.

And that's just one angle. Think of the thousands of processes your body performs every day to protect itself, to process information, to move, digest, clean the blood.

This is the body I hate. At least I hate parts of it. This is the body I'm told is not enough.

Makes me want to respond to all the magazines, "Are you kidding? You're telling me this is ugly? This walking, talking, healing work of art?"

If you believe in a sentient, personal Creator, as I do, you have to admire the God who made such a thing.

So watch out when cooking. You don't want to damage the artwork. But if you do, take a peek under the Band-Aid every day or so. Watch the healing of your body, and it might begin the healing of your soul.