Activist Mommy

marionetteYesterday my mother-in-law had my son’s hair chopped off without my permission. Or my partial permission. She claimed that she was taking him in for a quick trim and brought him back without his signature curls. She and I have been at war over his hair it was long enough to be at war over. My son, like his father, has beautiful long curls that just beg you to run your fingers through them. It’s the kind of hair that strangers stop me in the grocery store to admire and fawn over. And now it’s gone. The icing on the cake is that this is the first time she has spent any time with my son since her and I last fuoght over something petty weeks ago, and she immediately goes for something she knows would upset me.

There are a few hundred parental violations involved here. Lying to me about what her plans were, using my son as a pawn for her revenge, not seeing what an awesome kid he is, the list could go on. But what really pissed me off was after she left. As we stood in the bathroom looking in the mirror my son beemed with pride and declared that he finally looked like a “real boy”. Whoa. Way to take a kid’s natural desire to please the people he loves and turn it into a classic lesson in boy vs. girl. And here I thought it was his other body parts that made him look like a “real boy”. So what was he before the hair cut? Plastic? A marionette perhaps?

I really hate the idea that at 3 he’s already getting pushed inside a box of what is “acceptable” and what isn’t. I actually got a kick out him being too little to understand the way gender is seen by most. He was a boy that played fast and loose with the rules, and was lucky enough to have parents who didn’t care. So when he wanted bright red sparkly shoes to wear with his monster truck outfit I said sure. When he picked out the purple bag with yellow daisies to carry his toy cars around in I put that one in the basket. When he would dance around the room and call himself a pretty ballerina I would applaud and tell him just how pretty he was. But now the seed has been planted as to what is OK for him to do and wear by other’s standards. I knew this concept would come, but I certainy didn’t want it happening so soon.

I’m sure for some it seems silly. After all, it’s just hair and it will grow back. But to me it’s like a first step in the wrong direction. Today it’s “real boys don’t have long hair”, tomorrow it will be “real boys don’t care for kids” or “real boys don’t do housework”. And it seems like just another example of an overall culture that has pretty messed ideas on what makes one male or female while centering far too much on how a person looks.

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{July 11, 2007}   Nestle = BAD!!!

boycott NestleMy post yesterday on water bottles lead to a great comemnt and a link to a post of 13 news stories worth checking out. Scroll down to #8, a great piece on Nestle yet again making money at the expense of others.

Many people don’t know that there is a boycott on Nestle and their products going on. One that has been in effect since 1977. The reasons for boycotting Nestle make a pretty long list. Check out What’s Wrong With Nestlé? to see for yourself. Irresponsible marketing, exploiting employees, supporting brutal / repressive regimes , and abusing animals are a few of the ways Nestle gets its kicks. Doing a full boycott of Nestle can be difficult for some, especially since they own everything under the sun. As the company grows and grows one almost has to stop going to the store at all in order to avoid the stretch of Nestle. In the future the world will be owned by Nestle and sold by Wal-Mart. *shudders*

 If you want to know more you can check out the Boycott Nestle blog, which has an interesting post up right now about the Boycott Nestle week and mothers in the Philippines being misled into think that processed formula is better than their own milk. Much in the same way women here in the US were told the same lies. There is a great post here about the according to the World Health Organization, some 16,000 Filipino children die as a result of “inappropriate feeding practices” every year.

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{June 26, 2007}   I’m no Skinny Bitch

SkinnyBitchI read a post about the book Skinny Bitch over at Veggie Chic and immediately knew I had to buy it. Number one, with a name like that you just can’t go wrong. There are plenty of people who are the “skinny bitch”, and plenty who want to be. And even more who could care less and wish the stereotype would go away. Personally I’m pleasantly plump. During my first pregnancy I gained far too much weight, a two-hit combo of quitting smoking and morning sickness that only stayed away so long as my stomach was full. In other words I was constantly eating.

But the book is more than just a great title. It is a healthy eating book that promotes veganism. and it is written by models. I am sure that it is just the stereotype getting in the way, but when I see the words models and skinny together healthy is the last word I expect to see joining them. So I thought before i put down good money I would check out the website. SkinnyBitch: The Official Website 

Rory Freedman, a former agent for Ford Models, is a self-taught know-it-all.

Kim Barnouin is a former model who holds a Masters of Science degree in Holistic Nutrition.

OK, so they might be knowledgable in good health. And it has praise from Ingrid Newkirk, the President of PETA, and Amy Joy Lanou, Ph.D., Senior Nutrition Scientist of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.  And, well, as much as I love my round hips I wouldn’t mind losing the tummy pooch. Or at least gbetting it down to a reasonable level, as in not sticking out of my shirt. Though my sons say they love to cuddle mommy because I’m squishy, I don’t want to be the next person getting a letter from PETA like Michael Moore did.

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I saw a post over at the Consumerist about Creepy Commercials For Skin Whitening Products, and yeah they really are creepy when you watch them from a typical American veiwpoint. One product, Fair & Lovely, has the creepiest commercials. You can see the commercial here at youtube, where a beautiful woman finds that she cannot get ahead in her job because her skin is too dark. Luckily there’s a face whitening cream for that, huh? What does Fair & Lovely say?

Since 1993 until today, we have been committed to transforming and inspiring the lives of women through beauty. We also believe in the economic empowerment of women to improve standards of living and contribute positively to the quality of life of all Malaysians.


Empowerment and improving the standards of living? By feeding into the cultural stigma of dark skinned women being “less than”? I’m sorry, where is the empowerment? And apparently many of these creams contain Mercury. Which is, you know, kind of dangerous. Like deadly dangerous.

Thank goodness we don’t have that here in America. Here we have companies like Dove campaining for Real Beauty. Wait a minute. What company owns Fair & Lovely? Unilever. And what company owns Dove? Unilever. What? Unilever owns both companies? Perhaps I am a little dense here, but how can the same company promote Dove’s “Real Beauty” message in America and at the same time promote dangerous creams to whiten a woman’s skin in parts of India? Can they have it both ways?

In a world of hype and stereotypes, Dove provides a refreshingly real alternative for women who recognise that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and isn’t simply about how you look – it’s about how you feel.

So which is it? Real beauty that isn’t about stereotypes, or rubbing mercury on your face to look whiter? Does beauty come in all shapes and sizes? Or does that only count if your skin is white enough?

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I read the article The Image of Helplessness by Naomi Wolf in the Washington Post. I love Naomi Wolf, I really do. The first book of her’s I read was Promiscuities: The Secret Struggle for Womanhood while I was in college. Then while I was pregnant with my first son I read Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood, which really planted to seed in my head on looking outside the norm.

I read Naomi Wolf’s article and could not stop myself from raising my fist and shouting “Damn-it!”. Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan. These are the central female figures in today’s media. Does anyone else want to ask what the hell is going on? Why aren’t women like Laurie David or Somaly Mam making headlines for their work and achievements instead of drugged up, half-crazy, sobbing rich girls. The image of helpless yet sexy seems to be everywhere.

Last night I watched as a parenting board that I love to visit, one full of powerful, strong mothers almost erupt over images of a sickly thin Nicole Richie. Is she pregnant? Or is it just her stomach sticking out like the starving children in Africa? Or does she just need control top underwear to pull in the pooch? Wait, what? Oh yes, you read that right. Despite her bones sticking out from a deathly thin frame there are still some who can point out where she doesn’t fit into society’s image of the “perfect woman”. It was at this point when words like “misogynist” and “anti-feminist” began being thrown around.

Can we really live in a society where beautiful, powerful women like Queen Latifa are talking about empowerment, but Nicole Richie’s stomach pooch is more news worthy than the rest of her weak and fragile body?

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