Off Limits

Let me get on my soapbox for a moment, please!

As many of you may have heard by now the issue with the fumbling GOP staffer who thought it cute to diss the President’s daughters on Facebook.  Elizabeth Lauten is was a staffer for Representative Steven Fincher (from my home state of Tennessee). She resigned after her inappropriate comments about Sasha Obama and Malia Obama were posted on her Facebook page.  Here’s a screen shot of what she said.

Elizabeth-Lauten

 

Now, why would this grown woman concern herself with the attire of the President’s girls? She’s a political communications director and is supposedly super smart (she claimed to have gotten a perfect score on her ACT). Shouldn’t she have known better? Didn’t she learn anything from Justine Sacco? Aren’t there more pressing issues that she should be worrying about than how the First Daughter’s look at a Turkey Pardoning Ceremony? Aren’t Republicans trying to stop immigration reform, repeal the Affordable Care Act and charge the President with every crime imaginable because they don’t like the fact that he has reduced our budget deficit, created and supported Equal Pay for Women and reduced unemployment to the lowest since 2008. Not to mention a whole lot of other things, but why would that concern Ms. Lauten?

I mean I have a son and no I’m not the President, but some of the facial expressions he makes are pretty hilarious too. He would rather be watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates than attending a function for or with me. He’s a child. Not interested. It happens. Heck, you should see some of the facial expressions that I make as an adult. I haven’t truly perfected the art of showing disinterest (I’m working on it) and I’m almost 40. So, why would you expect children to know how to do it? Because they are the President’s children? Chile please!

Ms. Lauten then tried to offer an apology for her post, but guess what? Too little – too late. But, the funny thing was that it wasn’t an apology. She said:

“I wanted to take a moment and apologize for a post I made on Facebook earlier today judging Sasha and Malia Obama at the annual White House turkey pardoning ceremony:

When I first posted on Facebook I reacted to an article and I quickly judged the two young ladies in a way that I would never have wanted to be judged myself as a teenager. After many hours of prayer, talking to my parents, and re-reading my words online I can see more clearly just how hurtful my words were. Please know, those judgmental feelings truly have no place in my heart. Furthermore, I’d like to apologize to all of those who I have hurt and offended with my words, and I pledge to learn and grow (and I assure you I have) from this experience.”

Now, I have a degree in English Language and Literature and I know word semantics and word play and what she did was apologize for getting caught. Not to the children she offended. Someone who is that smart and a communications director should know what words to use to apologize.  She tried to CYA (cover your a**) in hopes of keeping her job and avoid being social pariah numero uno. Communication rule number one Ms. Lauten – you can’t make comments like that and expect to keep your job.

I would like to offer this piece of advice for everyone – Children are off-limits. Always. Whether they are in the public or on the streets, public shaming of children is not acceptable. The President said and displayed this noble character trait when he was running in his first election and Sarah Palin’s daughter, Bristol, was discovered to be pregnant and unmarried. He said, “Children are off-limits.”

In a society where young women already have self-esteem issues about their bodies why would you choose social media as a platform to further draw attention or try to humiliate them? To say to them that they need to “try and show some class” is an opinion drawn from what? How disinterested they looked from hanging with their dad? Oh, it was how they were dressed? Let’s see you said that they should “dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at the bar”. Umm, what bar have you been too lately where…

1. Underage women were admitted in.

2. Dressed like Sasha and Malia

Shouldn’t you have respect for the President and his children because hey he is the President? I thought what they had on was very age appropriate and not bar attire. But hey, I’m a mother and a bit conservative in my appearance and would wear what the girls wore (If I could fit it and it was appropriate for someone at my age to wear – but it is not).

I guess I’m just utterly disgusted in the fact that another woman would choose to pick on the girls when clearly more young women today seem to be pimping themselves for Facebook or Instagram likes as a confidence booster. Every young woman goes through a period where they are dissatisfied with their body image and I think Ms. Lauten was just being a bully. Heck, it’s now being reported that self-esteem of teenage girls has fallen significantly in the last few years. Why be part of the problem?

You all know that one of my greatest joys is being a parent and I don’t tolerate bullying of any kind. But, before I was a mother, I was an aunt and I know how social media can affect a young woman’s self-esteem. My 16-year-old niece told me last week, “Auntie my Twitter game is off the chain”. WTH? Yes, she actually said that. Getting over 2500 shares on a photo or 500 plus likes on a tweet is important to her. Why?  Because like many young women, it validates her social existence and is seen as a confidence booster.

I had to remind her that it is just social media and that I’m proud of her accomplishments and the mere fact that she is my beautiful niece more than those people who like her posts or share her photos. I constantly tell her that I am so proud of who she is and I want her to know that her body is just that. Hers. Love you first because we do and we don’t want you to change. I would hate if an internet troll became a bully and decided to affect her self-esteem by saying that she is dressed like she should be at the bar instead of supporting her parents. I would be livid and unleash an enormous amount of anger on that fool. Thankfully, she hasn’t had to experience that and prayerfully she never will.

That being said, I am proud that the White House has not chosen to address Ms. Lauten’s comments because the village has already spoken. People were outraged and felt that she had no right to make comments about the girls on social media. As part of the village, I just want to remind Ms. Lauten and every one of the social media rules of etiquette: Children are off-limits!

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Competing Women

I’m like that old cartoon Pinky and the Brain where every time the show ended, Pinky would ask the Brain, “Brain, what do you want to do tonight?” The Brain would always smile and say “The same thing we do every night Pinky. Try to take over the world.”

I grew up in the late 80’s and early 90’s where sisterhood seemed to go together like pop rocks and soda pop. My girls were the ones that I would whisper my secrets too, share my clothes and my dreams with. Girlfriends were essential to my development. But, something changed. Girls became competitive and we stopped wanting each other to win. We became catty women and clique-ish. What happened to this sisterhood? Was it just a part of “getting older”?

Early on, I learned to realize the true meaning of a friend. It was at the precious age of 13, when I commented to my girlfriend that I was jealous of another girl in our class. She was prettier, thinner and all the boys seemed to like her. My girl replied (in her 13 year old logic), “There is never reason to be jealous of another person. No one has something you can’t get on your own.” I loved that. True, simple and to the point. That has been one of my guiding principles. Making sure to never be jealous of anyone else, much less my girlfriends who provide a circle of love around me.

That guiding principle never sheltered me from the fact that there were and will always be “mean girls”, but when did the mean girls become the norm? Has the evolution of social media allowed the “nice girls” an opportunity to come out of their shell and display their true characteristics? Over the years women have gained an independent and competitive nature when it comes to dealing with each other. That nature is seemingly disintegrating the bonds of sisterhood. We are no longer concerned about making it collectively, but rather individually. How many times have you looked in on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or read the latest social media posting about women and their catty comments? There are all kinds of memes dedicated to disrespecting women, like this one here:

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Women have become back bitters and cunning in our desire to destroy each other. Oftentimes it is over a male. Think back to your high school years when girls would use passive/aggressive techniques to try to win the eye of a particular boy. What about the fights that broke out at school over boys? What about the “slut shaming” women do to each other now? How many times have women created rumors to try and demean and demoralize other women? The advancement of social technology has allowed the anonymity of girls who just want to be mean. But why the competition?

In a New York Times article, John Tierney said “intrasexual competition” is the most important factor explaining the pressures that young women feel to meet standards of sexual conduct and physical appearance.

So, women are pressured and that allows us to react as such? Isn’t pressure just a part of life? Why do we continue to drive a wedge between each other in hopes of getting noticed? I don’t buy it. Are we really that desperate that we don’t realize the fundamental truth that we are only in competition with ourselves? Why are you trying to compete with other women? Compete against yourself to be the best you that you can be. Learn like I did, “No one has something you can’t get on your own.” Hard work, dedication, determination and drive are words that should be placed in your own mental vocabulary and applied to your own quest for world domination.

Last year, my niece was a victim of the “mean girl” mentality when she was three way called and said something about another girl. My sister told her that it was her fault and that she was wrong because she shouldn’t have said anything about anyone on the telephone that you wouldn’t have said in person. My niece was hurt and my sister said, “You can’t trust females”. I was mortified. I told my sister that you can’t tell her that. You can’t tell her not to trust women. Women are the backbone of this society and your girlfriends are your biggest supporters. I simply told my niece that you have to be selective in the women that you allow in your circle, but friendships take time to develop. Observe and evaluate a person’s true motive and understand that EVERYONE has an agenda. Your charge is to find out if it is FOR YOU or AGAINST YOU.

But, I questioned whether or not I was hurting or helping her with my advice? I have been the recipient of friendship from some incredible women. We laugh, cry, drink and share. It’s a bond that has evolved over time. We are there for each other and they encourage and listen to me. There is no jealousy, envy or hate towards our success. There is no competition. Just acceptance. Whether it be “My marriage is ending, I need some advice? to “OMG, Infertility treatments worked! I’m pregnant!” They have been the rock in which I’ve leaned and relied on. Good times and bad they are the reason that I’m not in a mental institution now. Love. They love me and I love them. So, truth: We need each other. We need our girlfriends. Stop competing and start developing sound friendships.

girlfriends

The Phenomenal Princess

My niece is one of the most beautiful and phenomenal young women I know.  I know I’m kind of biased, but let me tell you why I think she’s phenomenal.  Princess #1 (her nickname) is almost 16.  She’s smart, funny and talented.  It’s in her genes.


One of the things I love most about my princess is her beautiful chocolate skin color.  It’s the color of a molten lava cake.  Beautiful and dark.  She is my chocolate kiss.  As a woman I try to instill racial pride in my nieces and nephews.  Loving the skin you’re in.  You see it is hard out for our young black women and men.  Your color is the first thing people notice about you. It’s the thing that makes some folks cringe or cross the other side of the street when you walk by. Sometimes, it is the one thing that we try to change.  But, how can you change something so beautifully inherited by your parents?  

There are too many young women who are walking around with their self-esteem damaged. Many of those same women have felt the pressure to fit into society’s ideal of beauty.  To be a size two with a 42 inch waist.  However, is that really realistic?  Nope.  In an Instagram age where everyone is a model based off the number of followers and likes on their page or photos, it’s no wonder our young ladies feel the pressure to fit in.  But, at what cost are they trying to change who they are?

We need to teach our young ladies that they are perfect just the way they are.  I love the fact that New York City became the first  major city in the nation to tackle the issue of self-esteem in young girls.  They want young girls to see that their value comes from character not your appearance.  This is something that we’ve tried to do with Princess since she was a little girl. We wanted her to recognize that you are beautiful because you exist, but your character is what really determines your worth.  Character.  That is what I want her to have.  Good character. You’re already beautiful outside, why not work on the inside?

So, in light of one of my literary heroes (Maya Angelou) that passed away yesterday, I submit this poem to my niece and all the young women out there who may not know this… You are beautiful just the way you are.  You are phenomenal!

Phenomenal Woman

BY MAYA ANGELOU

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size   
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,   
The stride of my step,   
The curl of my lips.   
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,   
That’s me.


I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,   
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.   
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.   
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,   
And the flash of my teeth,   
The swing in my waist,   
And the joy in my feet.   
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.


Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.


Men themselves have wondered   
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,   
They say they still can’t see.   
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,   
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.


Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.   
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.   
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,   
The bend of my hair,   
the palm of my hand,   
The need for my care.   
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.




This is me and Princess #1 – I love me some her! Phenomenally!