I'm writing this to you in letter format, inspired by a letter written in a film.
In the charming Audrey Hepburn classic Sabrina, a young chauffeur's daughter, obsessed with puppy love over the wealthy, handsome David played by William Holden, is sent to Paris to cooking school for a year. At the end of that year, she is much changed. She writes to her father,
"It is late at night and someone across the way is playing La Vie en Rose. It is the French way of saying I'm looking through the world through rose colored glasses and it says everything I feel...I've learned how to live. How to be in the world and of the world. And not just stand aside and watch. And I will never ever again run away from life or love either."
Of the world and in the world. How many women are watching their lives go by as they watch others live it? Will anyone look back at their life and think, I'm so glad I spent so much time watching Teresa Giudace on the Real Housewives of New Jersey!
Consuming unhealthy food is bad for our bodies, but consuming all of this "entertainment" is bad for our soul and minds. If you clutter your mind with gossip and toxic energy, gossip and toxic energy is what comes out of people.
I've talked before about "Endangered American Species: Language and Conversation," but so often conversation among women involves talking about mindless television and judging and belittling others.
When the actress Drew Barrymore was still married to Tom Green, Howard Stern insulted Green at a fundraiser saying how scary it must be for her to sleep with him. I loved how Drew replied,
"I just don't even go to the mean kids' area in that playground."
I wish people, especially women, wouldn't go there either. In the film Jane Austin Book Club, Emily Blunt's character has a mini-meltdown when she sees an old high school rival flirting with her husband at her mother's funeral. Her husband reassures her it was nothing and that high school is over, and she cried out, high school is never over! Sometimes, I think she's half right. Maybe because I was bullied as a teenager I'm more sensitive to this even as an adult, but I wish people didn't making gossip a sport.
I also wish women would get as passionate about more important things than what happened on the most recent Mob Wives (who cares times ten thousand). Our mothers, grandmothers and those before them fought through all these social justice movements - for this? To spend valuable leisure time sitting on our couches watching Kim Kardashian (net worth $35 million). It's not a drug, but this garbage (no other word for it) is numbing people to reality.
In the film the 11th Hour, psychologist James Hillman says, "We numb our senses from morning till night. Whether it's with noise, or loud music or light at night so nobody sees the beauty and if we've lost the feeling of the beauty of the world then we are looking for substitutes."
I want to explore the beauty of the world. Enjoy the seasonal produce at a local farm. Watch the geese swim and the dogs bask in the joy of the moment at the park. Or if I spend time watching television, I'd rather be in the company of Ginger Rogers or Audrey Hepburn, not some Botox-filled housewife.
Like Tori Amos talked about becoming a mother drew out wanting to mother her own true mother - the Earth - I don't understand why so many women don't think or seem to care about issues like clean water, air, soil and food or connect their actions to these things. These are not issues Democrats should care about - they are human rights issues. More important on many a woman's radar: is she swimsuit ready for the beach? I loved how my writer friend Jennifer put it,
"We'll all be standing on a bare Earth in our bikinis."
We complain about why gas isn't cheaper, instead of wondering what the pollution the SUVs so many in suburbia drive is doing to their kids air. We brag about our cheap finds at H&M, but don't ask, who made this? Why is it so cheap? We say we value education, but brag about possessions, not knowledge. We'll spend so much putting on makeup, doing our hair, getting a nice outfit on and then for lunch, "Let me microwave a factory farmed chicken with pesticide laden veggies which will be exposed to all the plastics while it's heating up, which I'll eat while working at my desk."
Many put vanity first. In this article (the subject matter of an eight year old getting Botox was a hoax) financial reporter Kathy Kristof bemoans,
"In 25 years of financial reporting, I can't count the number of women who have told me that they couldn't afford to save, but they could afford weekly manicures, expensive make-up, shoes, clothing and purses because that was an investment in their future.
That kind of thinking has resulted in a stark reality: 80% of the people living in poverty when they're old are women. That's not just because we continue to earn less, on average, than men. It's because women spend a fortune trying to be beautiful...Millions of women will spend hundreds of dollars every week getting eyebrows waxed, hair tinted, nails wrapped — and seek the perfect handbag for a party — but say they don't have the wherewithal to invest $100 a month in a mutual fund.
Girls, if you want to be beautiful, I'll give you a tip. What makes you pretty is confidence. You get confidence from being kind, responsible and successful — not from having the perfect handbag and nails. I assure you that properly arched eyebrows and fewer wrinkles will not help you look gorgeous when you’re old and destitute."
I can't say enough how extremely disappointed I am in the culture for girls (and boys right now). Everywhere - everywhere, young children are glossy eyed staring at their hand held devices. Isn't it sweet how the makers manufacture these all sparkly and shiny like toys. Did you know Toys r Us is going to start selling Kindles, eager to add yet another gadget in your child's life?
At a movie recently in Westwood, New Jersey, almost every young girl in the 12-14 age range had a fancy bag with a Blackberry. Mothers - what does a 13 year old need a Coach bag for? Some girls as appeared to be as young as eight had hand bags and phones. Am I the only person who feels like they are in Invasion of the Body Snatchers? This is Bergen County, New Jersey. Please chime in and tell me if you are witnessing this too, and teachers, I'd love to hear from you too.
Instead of being outraged marketers are getting to our girls younger and younger to groom the next generation of consumers, some parents seem to be writing a blank check to them. Here you go Verizon, Blackberry, UGG, Coach, here's my kid's soul!
Instead of a device, why don't we put in girls' hands a paintbrush, a piece of athletic equipment, a gardening tool, a microscope, or book (a real book)? Why don't we teach girls pleasure in a logo bag is fleeting, but knowledge lasts a lifetime.
Katy Perry has a new hit song Last Friday Night. Her great Friday night includes all these things:
getting so drunk after doing multiple shots
posting their photos online, oh well we're screwed!
having a menage a trois
the law being after her (since she can't remember why, could it be offing a few innocent motorists on the road?)
maxing out her credit cards (was it buying her perfume?)
A creepy TGIF-chant follows, and can't wait to do that all again next Friday night!
This is the summer anthem for our youth post-The Great Recession? I don't think alcohol abuse and credit card debt is something to be singing about in a sugary-sweet sounding song. What ended up online, sexually explicit images? Happening every day. Jennifer told me her daughters witnessed some very young girls singing this on the street. Katy Perry, how do you feel about that? Too busy counting your money? Much like a song about not wanting to go to rehab by another female pop singer sounded bad at the time and even worse in retrospect, should young girls be singing joyfully about self-destructive behavior?
Jennifer she says corporations put music on the radio they want the public to mimic. Who wrote this song, the credit card companies, Mark Zuckerberg and some liquor companies?
Young girls want to be 13 going on 30, and women want to go backwards (see my "Younger - Better? More Valued? Says Who?") post. Why can't we embrace where we are in life?
Singer Natalie Merchant, while promoting her work of sonic poetry Leave Your Sleep, talked about wanting to mature gracefully. She has a daughter, and I was so thrilled to hear her - or anyone - talk about aging gracefully and the concept of maturity.
She is one of my longtime favorite singers for her love of history and beauty of the word, caring for the environment and many social causes. She has no perfume to sell, only her art. I loved how she celebrated the diversity of women when she did the video for Wonder from her Tigerlily album. We need better role models, ones that lift us up, not bring us down. She's been one of mine.