I can’t tell you how many different ways this makes me sad. While my daughters grew up, I dieted incessantly. I stepped on the scale daily — at least. I kept logs and charts on my weight, menus listing points and calories. It was not a body positive household. And the messages I learned were passed to me from my mother.
In their teens, as my schedule grew to include a career, there was less time for meal planning, point counting, and self-loathing. I finally learned to love my beautiful self. I can only hope they absorbed some of that message, too, and maybe even restored some of the damage.
As Mother’s Day approaches, it’s my wish that every mom can see herself as the beautiful life-giving Goddess she is. We should all see ourselves through the eyes of those who love us most. After you’ve watched the first Dove video, check out this one from Dove, too.
One of my earliest memories is that of sitting at story time in nursery school. I was a young 4-year old with hair so long I often found myself sitting on it. To free it, I leaned forward, bowing my head until it came loose, then rolled back to listen to the rest of the story. Men called me Blondie. Women cooed over my golden locks.
We had an old black and silver hair dryer that could either sit on the counter or be held like blow-dryers of today. We used that until it started to emit electrical shocks, then finally updated to an orange plastic model in the seventies. Mom would sit me down in front of it, working the boar’s-bristle brush through the long maze of snarled nests. If her patience wavered, I never knew it. Although years later I learned how much she hated that task.
The Powder Pouf Beauty Salon was a cornerstone of the *Moon Plaza for many years, along with Buzz’s Barber shop, Dave’s Sport Shop, the Marine recruitment office, a dance school, and the Alcohol Anonymous meeting room in Fridley, Minnesota. Every Saturday morning, for several years, I packed coloring books and crayons in a small bag, and scrambled into the back of my mother’s white Chevy with red interior. No seat belt. No video games. I remember the smell of hairspray, the hum of the dryers, and looked forward to the attention from all the ladies in curlers and lipstick. It was a very pink place, as you can imagine.
If business was slow, sometimes Sandi, my mother’s beautician (they weren’t stylists back then), turned a dryer on a low setting and let me feel the tiny jets of air tickle my scalp. The warmth gave me goosebumps. The white noise lulled me into a trance. Sometimes I got a bottle of pop, pulled out of a coin-operated machine, that clinked and clunked as the money fell, the mechanism unlocked, and the bottles rolled into place. It was a magical place where my mom transformed from Saturday morning bed-head into a ravishing washed, curled, teased, and sprayed helmet-clad angel.
Then one day it was my turn. Mom turned up the hype. This was my rite of passage. I would be beautiful.
Upon arrival, my woman-friend, Sandi, sat me in a booster seat and wrapped me in a cape. In her hands she held scissors, a rubber band, and my faith. She bound my hair in a pony tail, and in one snip her scissors removed from my head the very essence of my being. Sandi held the bound hair up like a dead rabbit at the end of a day’s hunt, then curled it into a plastic bag that my mother tucked into her perfume-scented purse.
I was Sampson. Stunned. Powerless. My mother sat in the chair next to me, chatting and smiling with Delilah, seemingly oblivious to my loss. Several snips and one Saf-T-Pop later, I was on my way home in the back of the Chev. Mom chatted about the usual things, none of which were important to me in my grief.
At home, I sat on the kitchen floor playing with dolls, or coloring, or something. I have a lot of memories of playing on the kitchen floor for some reason. Gramma and Grampa came through the back door to say hello. Gramma’s eyes shifted from me to my mother and back again. I felt like a specimen. Mom explained that this was a Pixie Cut. It was very popular in those days. Feeling their stares like hot fire on the top of my head, I looked up at Gramma’s speechless face. Never being one to say anything if she couldn’t say something nice, she finally announced, “Well, she’s so homely she’s cute!”
“Well she is, isn’t she?”
I didn’t know what homely meant back then, but I knew from my mom’s reaction it wasn’t good. I filed that word into a special place in my memory called, “Things I don’t want to ask about, but want to know someday.” And when I looked back at my school photo many, many years later, it all came back to me. Mainly, because I thought to myself, “My God. I’m so homely, I’m cute.” Like a frog or a bug.
The following Christmas I got a play wig. It was a long blonde play wig, and it was as if someone had reattached a lost limb. I wore it all the time, glamorously flipping it back with my hands, or whisking it off my shoulder with a toss of my head. Eventually, when I had more voice in the matter, I grew my hair out. Mom chiding, “As long as I don’t have to brush out the knots, you can do whatever you want with it.” Later I cut it again, and permed it. Later yet I grew it out and now still wear it long.
The one thing I have never done is color it. I have few vanities with this old body of mine, so let me have this one. Oh, there is some grey in there, but it’s harder to see against the blonde. Men still call me Blondie and more often Sunshine. Women still ogle, although I suspect they’re looking for roots. And someday I’ll be too old to pull off this long, straight Thirty-something style. But I’m going to rock it as long as I’m able, and maybe a little after that.
In my golden years
I imagine I’ll it cut short again. Maybe if I’m lucky they’ll say I’m so homely I’m cute.
Peace . . .
*Moon Plaza still stands. Although updated, it is much the same.
Buzz the barber celebrated his 50th year in business in 2015, although he quit racing motorcycles at the age of 67.
I’m sad to say that Sandi the beautician died in 2008 at the age of 60. She was eventually the owner of The Powder Pouf and another location in the northeast suburbs of the Twin Cities.
Have you ever changed the way you felt about a song you liked after listening to the lyrics? That happened to me with this song.
I don’t want to go into a full rant on this song, because I really do get what they are saying. Girls who know they are beautiful and use it to manipulate boys aren’t beautiful. Girls who like to make other girls jealous and steal their boyfriends are just ugly as heck. Girls who walk into a room and expect all the attention are really just boring. I get that.
I hope I’m not the only full-grown adult admitting that I liked that song. It’s not going to find its way onto my playlist, but it’s a toe-tapper, okay? Well it still gets my foot tapping, but now, after really listening to the message, my head is shaking and there’s this sneer on my face.
Let’s start with the title:
What Makes You Beautiful
It reads like a Teen Mag headline. This is a tutorial. Listen up, girls. This is what will make you beautiful to all the cute boys like the ones in 1D. Here’s the first suggestion:
Oh. My. God. Do I really have to explain how dangerous this is to those little 14-year old female psyches? YES! They are insecure. Now these teen-idol brats are telling them it’s alright to stay that way. All that crap their parents have been dishing out like, “You can do it!” “Stand up straight!” “Be proud!” can go right out the window, because they just danced around their bedroom to a song telling them they are sexy-hot hiding in the corner.
I will avoid going through every single lyric to save you the monotony, and some of them are arguably good:
Don’t need make-up, To cover up, Being the way that you are is enough
Girls don’t need make-up, but most like to experiment with it. And like most experiments, something is going to blow up now and then. Most women find a happy-place with their cosmetics eventually. I wouldn’t go as far as to say girls should or should not wear make-up. That is a personal decision, and sometimes a moral decision they make with their parents. But I agree that no one NEEDS make up.
But when you smile at the ground it ain’t hard to tell
They are singing about someone who smiles at the ground. This is a girl with serious confidence issues. Are they going to say how smart she is? Are they going to say what a great addition she is to the track team? No. What are they going to say next?
Right now I’m looking at you and I can’t believe, You don’t know, Oh, oh, You don’t know you’re beautiful, Oh, oh, That’s what makes you beautiful
Oh HELLS no! They are going to tell her that the fact that she is such a limp little wallflower is what flips their switch. The fact that you think you have nothing to offer? That’s exactly what makes you beautiful.
What I have learned in my short fifty-some years on this planet I learned rather late; somewhere around the forty-fifth:
What is it about goal-setting that unnerves me? The exercise is paralyzing, the final product dispiriting. Let me share my agony with you. I’m going to use the ever-popular SMART method.
Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Timely
Specific: Here is the who, what, where and why of the goal. Here is the core. The foundation. The point. Here is where I usually ask, “What’s the point?” Already I am shutting down.
Measurable: This is the unit of measurement and quantity of units. This is how you can tell if you have or haven’t — as the case may be — reached your goal. Not lose some weight, but lose 10 pounds. Not save a bunch of money, but save 100 dollars. Units are easy. Quantity is touchy. Too few, and it seems fruitless. Too many and it’s unattainable. Which brings us to the A in SMART.
Attainable: Here is where you figure out how to make it happen. This looks great on paper, but come Monday, it’s going to look like recycling.
Realistic: What am I both willing and able to achieve? As a child I was told, as so many kids are, that I could be anything I want to be. I consider myself a realist. I suppose I was born that way. I always knew I was never competing in the Olympics, walking the Miss Universe runway, or being inaugurated for the presidency of the United States. Mom and Dad were either full of it or got the wrong kid at the hospital. Realistic? Chances are, I’m going to bite without getting too much to chew.
Timely: Make a timeframe. When is this going to happen? Most likely, no time in the near future. If I start at all, I’m going to choke near the finish line.
Listen, I’m not being cynical. I’ve lived in my head for 50 years now, and I can’t keep expecting it to be something it isn’t! I am very unlike most people. Sad to say, it took me 40 years to accept and — yes! — enjoy it. A lot of my time is spent biting my tongue, minding my manners, and acting all grown up. I can come up with a SMART set of goals, but I get more done and feel better about myself using the SMART ASS method:
Abandon Sponaneous Sincere
Abandon: This is the part where I drop all of the above.
Spontaneous: Eyes closed, I ask myself, “What do I really want to do right NOW?” Not as reckless as it sounds, sometimes I actually want to clean, or change my oil, or even exercise! Then sometimes, having been asked such a question, I might take myself on a picnic! Or lie in the grass with the dogs . . . hike in the woods . . . call one of my children . . . or eat something sensational!
Sincere: Whatever is done, do it wholeheartedly. Be true to others. Be genuine in love. Do to yourself as you would do unto others. Absorb the beauty of all things, and then reflect it back.
I like this method better, and as I am well-known for saying