Friday, April 18, 2008

The world is somewhere between mad demented and mad awesome...a wrap-up of the week

It's been a wild week in nearly every avenue. Here's what I've seen that might intrigue, interest, disgust, enthrall and/or appall you:

The good:

Earth Day ramp up has motivated some really fantastic things.

At Moms Speak Up, I joined The Nature Conservancy's campaign to Plant a Billion. One tree, one dollar...and every dollar counts. Click over here to check out the information and join in the campaign!

Aimee Greeblemonkey launched a project near and dear to my heart (for those of you who know how I feel about art, kid art, and art in school, as well as the environment). Inspired by her son who hosted a backyard art auction and a reader suggestion, she launched Kid Art Auction for Earth Day 2008.

Izzy asked if I would take on Moms Speak Up as Editor-in-Chief, which I agreed to do. I'm currently seeking motivated writers who are passionate about the environment, dangerous imports, health care, food safety, media and marketing, education, politics and many other hot topics of concern. There is no minimum requirement for submissions, but since I'm looking to keep the site moving and growing, I do prefer a degree of prolific. Cross-posts welcome. :)

Also, did you see that Izzy was mentioned at the Wall Street Journal, along with other "moms who blog?" We're a force, who I think mainstream media are beginning (finally!) to reckon with! Sue Shellenbarger says so in her article, "The Blogger Mom, In Your Face."

The bad:

It has finally happened: a book has been published that I think is so dreadful it ought to be burned.

I know. I did not think it possible either.

I've seen some questionable topics published, read some really badly written books, and passed over some books that made me go, "WTF?!?!"

But I've never, ever advocated burning a book. Until now.

Exhibit A:


A book for moms (moms! Just moms? Not dads?) to explain the cosmetic surgery process to their little girls (girls! Just girls? Not boys?).

This book also caused me to utterly suspend my normal "endeavor to be open-minded and fair and balanced." I went straight to outraged feminist moralist motherist.

Cosmetic surgery to "perfect" one's self makes me sad. There. I said it. It does. Modeling it to one's daughter, to demonstrate why dangerous elective surgery is necessary so Mommy can appear closer to Barbie-slut-ho perfection through a book that is supposed to normalize it makes me shudder.

In the book, Mommy explains to her little girl how pregnancy ruined her sexy and gorgeous looks (I'm paraphrasing in a really pejorative way, as I am sure you guessed). She tells her daughter that in order for her skin-tight pants and belly-revealing shirts to look better, in their land of palm trees (Miami? LA? Houston?), she needs a breast augmentation (that means bigger boobs, sweetheart), a tummy tuck (to remove that unsightly bit of post-pregnancy puckering), and a nose job (not sure how that's related exactly but Mommy feels the strong need to fix her nose).

Mommy and Sweetie meet with Dr. Michael, who strongly resembles a rejected Hall of Justice hero, who, failing the superhero gig, turned to plastic surgery instead. Hey, at least he's using his powers for good...right?

The real Dr. Michael (Dr. Michael Salzhauer) was inspired to write the book when a large number of his patients came to appointments with children, who were confused and worried about the surgery.

Clue: BECAUSE THAT'S RATIONAL. One SHOULD BE scared of surgery, especially unnecessary surgery. It carries RISKS. As one who has been through a number of surgeries, I can't imagine ever opting to do it unless it was absolutely medically necessary.

But instead of teaching children to value themselves and their bodies as is, and to trust their instincts, Dr. Michael believes it is relevant to teach them to be hunky dory with Mommy going under the knife to (and I quote the book), come back not just, "...different, my dear---prettier!"

Because, of course, that should be every woman's goal.

Unfortunately, the Newsweek article I read about this quoted a child expert who agrees that Dr. Michael is on the right track. Elizabeth Berger, psychiatrist for children and author of "Raising Kids With Character," said she didn't want to seem anti-cosmetic surgery and thought the book was a good idea because if women do plan to have cosmetic surgery, it's important that they talk about it with their children.

Hey, Dr. Berger, it's okay to appear to be against something, especially if your career is to advocate, protect and help children.

Hey, moms, if you feel compelled to get cosmetic surgery, who am I to say otherwise. I get it, each to her own.

But please, if you can't do other than downplay what it is, really, then please, hide it from your kids. I fight every day to keep my kids from thinking they need to reach some arbitrary state of physical perfection in order to be worthwhile. I hope you'd want to do the same. If not, at least please keep it to yourself, okay?

You guys know I'm vain. But you also know that I halt my vanity as best I can at the "making the choice to be healthy" line. Usually.

But when I ponder that elective cosmetic surgery is reaching record numbers, I feel disheartened at the state of esteem and how women view themselves. How can I ever teach my children, in the face of such a culture, that it's not how you look that is most important but who you are and what you do?

For more about what I think we need to make of the natural changes in our bodies, click here.

The political

The MOMocrats have been busy as bees. And it's paying off with lots of national attention from the Democratic presidential candidates' campaigns and keystone journalists such as Jay Rosen. We've covered everything from personal appearances by Obama (at the now infamous "bittergate" fundraiser in San Francisco, where MOMocrat Glennia heard it first-hand) to live blogging the debate. Now we're collecting the questions ABC should have asked at the debate. Come read and add your voice.

Speaking of "bittergate" my own Senator, John Cornyn, chapped my hide royally by telling me that I'm not bitter. Oh yes I am, Senator, and here's why: you don't get to tell my I'm just dandy when my bank statement tells me otherwise.

The ugly

Who is to say what art is or isn't? But can we really call this art? I call it...well, unethical and immoral sounds too milquetoasty. Horrific. There. It's not art, it's a horror show. I hate to give it more attention, but now and again (in two cases in this very post) my Self-Righteous bone gets poked.

The mad awesome

I want to leave this post on a good note, as it began.

Whymommy got some great news: no evidence of disease. So happy for you, Susan!

The EPA tightened the ozone levels allowed. One step closer to cleaner air! This was, in part, I think, due to the enormous public response at their hearings. Maybe using my words added to this.

Patience keeps moving up the reading levels. I caught her reading a chapter book to her little sister, who was listening, rapt. It has inspired Persistence to learn to read, or try to. The two of them are growing ladybugs for our garden. Next week is our consultation about how to convert our yard into a wildlife habitat.

Last but not least, I survived a day in the nursery at the school/church. Yes, me in charge of over a dozen kids (with another parent). And we all came out fine.

Have a great weekend!

Copyright 2008 Julie Pippert
Also blogging at:
Julie Pippert REVIEWS: Get a real opinion about BOOKS, MUSIC and MORE
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Moms Speak Up: Talking about the environment, dangerous imports, health care, food safety, media and marketing, education, politics and many other hot topics of concern.
MOMocrats

27 comments:

Gwen said...

First: that book. OMG, no. NO. I want to up with women and all, but cosmetic surgery bugs (and I have close friends who have had it and I have reacted to their announcements with undisguised horror, so now you know what kind of friend I really am). I understand the impetus behind the tucks and lifts, I do, and I feel the temptation myself. But it still makes me sad for us and for our ever growing focus on the surface while leaving all the important and lovely things underneath untouched.

I don't from art, either, but that project makes me shudder. Gah! Could I expose myself as more close-minded and reactionary? (wait. am I close-minded and reactionary?)

Yay for your new gig! And for the awesomeness of your daughters! And for women who use the power of their minds to make a difference!

Mayberry said...

I think you are mad awesome -- wtg on the MomsSpeakUp job!

The book. Hurl. I had a boss who got a face lift in her very early 40s, when she had a tween-age daughter. That combo just horrified me.

slouching mom said...

So much here to comment on, but I think I'll leave it at this:

Congratulations, Editor-in-Chief! And what a perfect choice, Izzy!

Suki said...

Grrrr... I hate you for this.

Posts I've read today:
1. http://chandni.wordpress.com on this asshole doctor who stands up for sex determination. He's an IVF practitioner.

2. http://thebratthebeanandbedlam.wordpress.com - The Mad Momma commenting on the horrible story of the Yale student's "art project" that constitutes footage of several abortions she goes through over some months, and more.

3. Mad Momma again. Apparently bringing a dog from the streets, tying it and starving it to death is "art".

4. This.

Do yourself a favour and don't read the posts. The first one is comparitively bearable because we get that crap all the time. The rest... just don't touch them with a bargepole.

SciFi Dad said...

Congrats on your new position. That's awesome.

FWIW, that cosmetic surgery book is a vanity publication, not a standard one (i.e. it was published by the author, not a publishing company with editors or whatever).

http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/010154.html

womaninawindow said...

1 Ya for you!
2. AHHH! Strangely I felt compelled for some strange reason to tell my 7 year old daughter that her Grammies' boobs are not real. This crap is out there for our kids to see! My daughter was like, "Huh, that's possible? And how stupid..." It was a chance for me to say things like, "Yea, fat or thin or flat or booblishious we should love our bodies. Like mommies' squishies, gotta love 'em!" That we should ever need to talk about this though is CRAZY!

Mad said...

OK, there is SOOOO much about that book that makes my head want to explode but can I just say this? When, oh when, will dumb-ass publishers and child socio-psy-nutri whomevers STOP publishing "enabling" crap books for kids? Let's leave children's books to children's authors--you know, the ones who can craft story and create art.

Congratulations on your new position.

Melissa said...

Did a little research on the art thing and it may be a hoax. Here's hoping.

http://www.snopes.com/info/inthenews.asp

I had actually seen the hoax thing on BBC as well.

And yea for the new position!

Boo for the book! :(

Yea for reading! I hope she won't read you out of house and home like my guys do. Austin has a crappy library system.

Have a good weekend!

OmegaMom said...

Congrats on the EIC role!

When I read about that book, my eyes bugged out. Gah.

Lawyer Mama said...

Yes, that book so annoyed the crap out of me. Way to reinforce gender stereotypes and our culture's crazy emphasis on looks over substance, Dr. Michael. Bravo. {/sarcasm}

Blogversary said...

I am glad you are the new MSU editor.

Congrats!

Angela said...

You've gotta be kidding me with that book. Tell me you made that up, Julie. And congrats too. Go you!

Aliki2006 said...

I think I would rather NOT have known that such a book exists out there--blech and double blech. How sickening...

Congrats, Julie!

Backpacking Dad said...

This line:

"Hey, Dr. Berger, it's okay to appear to be against something, especially if your career is to advocate, protect and help children."

is excellent.

Very nice post. And thanks for taking me to task a little when I got sloppy :}

Kathryn said...

Yes, I agree. Burn that book. Good gried! What is this planet coming to?

Cathy said...

Ack -- that book!

A features editor, after recoiling and hacking and horking at her desk, emailed the press release to several of us just yesterday.

Unbelievable, no?

Jeff said...

Congratulations on your Editor-in-Chief-iness! I was thinking you needed something to do. ;-)

That story about the abortion art actually gave me an upset stomach just now. I'm speechless.

Jeff said...

Ooh, I think Melissa is right about the hoax. THANK GOD!

Karen said...

when I think about the perfectly good books people have wanted to ban over the years....
in other news, hurray I can get back on your site - the past two days I was forbidden from getting here and could only view in reader - is the internet out to get me?
I need to do more reading at MSU - I do some greenish blogging myself - why don't I go there more? I need to pull my internet together.

janethesane said...

Reading about that book made me so sad. Totally sick.

Thanks for the link about MSU. I stuck it in my Faves and I will check it out. I passed it along to a friend too.

le35 said...

Julie,

Although I LOVED the part about you getting to be the Editor-in-Chief of Moms Speak Up, I'm very sorry that you ended up having to read the book about cosmetic surgery. Where in the world did you find it??? I may need to pass on the little warning on my own blog and need siting fodder. . . I'm not a super model, but I really hate the idea that moms should try to help their kids LIKE the idea of plastic surgery. Heck, I'm the type of mom who won't even schedule a repeat C-section. I'll go drive 45 minutes away to go through labor and have a VBAC. Crazy people.

le35 said...

Julie,

Although I LOVED the part about you getting to be the Editor-in-Chief of Moms Speak Up, I'm very sorry that you ended up having to read the book about cosmetic surgery. Where in the world did you find it??? I may need to pass on the little warning on my own blog and need siting fodder. . . I'm not a super model, but I really hate the idea that moms should try to help their kids LIKE the idea of plastic surgery. Heck, I'm the type of mom who won't even schedule a repeat C-section. I'll go drive 45 minutes away to go through labor and have a VBAC. Crazy people.

JCK said...

When you first started talking about the book, I thought it was a joke. I agree with you 100%. Unbelievable. Morally unethical in my opinion.

Congrats on your Editor in chiefdom!

Donna said...

Hi, Julie - I'm a little behind in my reading, so just got here -- LOVE your take on "Pretty Mommy."

Congratulations on your new position! You deserve it!

painted maypole said...

that books looks terrifying. scary. should not have to exist. ack!

Christine said...

hey madame editor--that is awesome.

and that book ick.

and that 'art" double ick.

the ick factor of these things is high. not just on a gross level but on a moral and ethical one, too,

Amanda said...

You are a wonder. My jaw is still sore from having watched a piece on that book with my mouth completely ajar.