Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Return of Mom Jeans

So, once upon a time, I raved about Not Your Daughter's Jeans on this blog as the ultimate in Mom Jeans.  I found them flattering, muffin-minimizing, and hiney hiding, while still maintaining an element of style.

And I still think NYDJ jeans rock, and own several pairs.

But they can be pricey.

And in these days of threatened government shutdowns and all, a government lawyer's gotta figure out where to pinch some pennies.

Enter Eddie Bauer.

So, in the past, I had sworn by Eddie Bauer jeans.  But, upon the arrival of The Boy, The Working Mom's bod just didn't flow with my Eddie Bauer jeans like it did before it housed a whole other human for 39 weeks and a day.  Things changed after that . . . forever.  Or at least things moved around and haven't gone back to their proper place in the 2.5 years since The Boy exited The Bod.

Anyway . . . so, if you're looking for some jeans with a pricetag under $100 that approximate the NYDJ feel and style, you might take a look at what Eddie Bauer has to offer this season.

Specifically, I am presently sitting on my sofa wearing a pair of Eddie Bauer Curvy Boot Cut Jeans - StayShape.  Quite a mouthful, huh?, so we'll just call them the EB StayShape Jeans.  EB StayShape jeans have some lycra in the denim so that they keep their shape, a salutary hallmark of the NYDJ jeans.  The particular pair I am wearing also comes up high enough in the back to allay any fear of anyone seeing your rear cleavage when you bend down to attend to the needs of your minions . . . er, children.  The thing they don't have that NYDJ jeans do have is the front panel that acts as a built-in girdle, but I don't really miss it.  And for half the price of your typical pair of NYDJ jeans, they're worth looking into.

As for sizing, I would buy whatever your normal jeans size is for these.  NYDJ reviews consistently suggest that you size down (which I don't do, incidentally), but I would start with your true size, see how it goes, and then adjust from there.

I'm still test driving this pair, but I'm pretty happy so far.  If they continue to be as good as I think they're going to be, I think I will be getting a second pair, but straight, rather than boot cut.  (The boot is pretty wide, not a baby boot, but I'm okay with that because . . . while I care about fashion and all, I am, you know, 43 years old and I live in the Dallas suburbs, so I kinda don't care that much that my jeans flare a little wider than what you see in New York.)  What I can tell you right now is that I'm pretty comfortable in these jeans, they move well with my body, there's no weird bulging or accidental disclosure of skin, and they're not hideous.  In fact, they're pretty cute.  So if you're in the market for some jeans, Momma, I'd say swing by Eddie Bauer (or, you know, go to the website, because who has time to actually shop in a store).

P.S.  Long overdue, but while I'm making clothing recommendations, I'd like to also recommend a friend's blog about ladie's things, which has just about any kind of information you may wish to know about a variety of clothing fitting issues, but especially your bra (or the one you might be thinking of buying).  Never be poked by an underwire again.  She'll help you find your fit, or at least teach you how to shop for the right one at Wide Curves.  Go check her out.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

We've come a long way, baby.

Hanna Rosin is one of my favorite writers on women's issues and, in this wonderful article, she invites the feminist elites to see the silver lining:

The Patriarchy is Dead.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Reproductive Justice

A few months back, I heard a speech about reproductive justice.

What's that?

It sounds like it's about abortion, right?

And it is, partly.  Partly, it is.

And, in fact, people often end up talking a lot about abortion -- justifying it -- when it comes to the topic  of reproductive justice.  And that's pretty much where most of this speech I heard sat.

But that's not all it is, and it is a shame that the conversation always seems to have to settle on the topic of abortion where there are a lot of other issues on which intelligent, well-meaning people should be able to agree.

And to me (and I'm going to go ahead and say that it should be for you to) reproductive justice is a lot bigger, a lot more important, and a lot more sweeping than determining the status of a fertilized egg.

(And for the sake of clearing the air on that topic, here's my position on that particular issue:  a fertilized egg may or may not have the potential to become a human.  A fertilized egg may lack the necessary genetic cell lines to even form a baby.  These are known as blighted ovums and they are the source of many miscarriages.  Such a fertilized egg was never going to be a baby, even though all the pregnancy tests tested positive.  A fertilized egg, even if it does have the necessary genetic cell lines to form a baby must attach to the uterine wall and grow there.  Many of them never do.  Many of them fail to reach the uterus, resulting in ectopic pregnancies that end in miscarriage. Many of them just sweep away as part of a woman's monthly menstruation.  So my opinion, in fact what appears to be scientific fact, is that "life" does not begin at conception.  It does begin sometime in utero, but it's not at conception.  Because I do not wish this post to be about abortion, I'm stoping right there on this topic.)

“Reproductive Justice is the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, economic, and social well-being of women and girls, and will be achieved when women and girls have the economic, social, and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about our bodies, sexuality, and reproduction for ourselves, our families, and our communities in all areas of our lives.”  Source here.

That's pretty broad, isn't it?  That's not just abortion.  It's not even mostly abortion.

To me, reproductive justice is really about economics and social well-being.  It's not about women like me:  I'm upper middle class and white.  I can afford birth control -- whether it's the pill or condoms or what have you.  I can afford to have a baby.  I have a job, a loving husband, a nice house, and a good, stable income.  If I wanted, and found myself with an unwanted pregnancy, I could also easily have an abortion.  I could easily find a clinic and I could easily pay for the procedure.  I am, as much as I can be, in control of my reproductive well-being because of my social class and relative wealth.

But before I was a lawyer in the suburbs married to another lawyer in the suburbs, I was well educated about my reproductive system and my reproductive health.  I was taught by my mother, and a little bit by my public school, about my sexuality and what causes pregnancy and disease.

It's the 16 year old impoverished girl whose home life is unstable that should be the focus of our concern.  She's not getting the same breaks that I have gotten my whole life.  And so when she reaches the age of 21 and already has 3 kids, she's 1,000 steps behind where I was at 21 and there is no catching up to that.

Reproductive justice is about her.  It is about finding ways to educate her about her sexual health -- her reproductive system, how to prevent her pregnancy, how she can avoid disease.  And it is also about finding ways to help her leave her impoverished situation to make a better life for herself.  And she cannot do that if she's had three babies before she is of legal drinking age.

It's not just about the teen mom in the US, though. Globally, there are women who are literally besieged by their own bodies in an endless cycle of pregnancy and birth.  They are victims of their husbands and of societies that see them as property and second class citizens.  These women need compassion.  They need birth control, they need education, they need options, and they need support systems that will free them from social tyranny.

Reproductive justice means so much more than abortion.  We all, pro-life or pro-choice, can find something to get behind under the category of reproductive justice.  And we women -- and as many men as we can recruit -- need to start fighting for it.  For ourselves, but especially for the women and girls in this nation and world who, by dint of circumstance, cannot fight for themselves.

Friday, September 6, 2013



You destroyers of knitting frames and cotton gins!

All ye who lament Facebook as taking the place of real intimacy and communication among real humans, I'm telling you now, you are luddites.

You are the same guys who expressed the same lament about the telegraph and the telephone.

I love social media.  (Although, I don't quite get Twitter yet, and probably never will.)

It's become fashionable, almost, to assert with very little argument that Facebook has destroyed real intimacy and community. And that's just false.

We were already atomized. We already lived far away from friends and family. We already barely participated in community. Facebook has brought us back together. 

Because of Facebook, I have reconnected with friends from childhood who were long lost to me and lived only in my memories.

I have found my favorite high school teacher.

I get to see my college friends' kids grow. 

I get to share my own child's goofy milestones like First Cake Pop.

I have access to the kind advice of many friends from many stages of my life when I wonder about potty training or sleep training. 

I am privileged to delight in my friends' successes and triumphs. 

I can mourn with them in real time too. 

I get to see my nieces and nephews, who all live 100s of miles away, grow up in the pictures their parents post on Facebook. 

Sure, it's not the same as being there, but the physical distance was still there in 2008, pre-Facebook for me.  Now, I can participate, at least virtually.

Facebook hasn't disconnected me from the world. It has reconnected me to many different worlds I've lived in over these 43 years and, in so doing, helped me create a new one in which my past and my present mix and mingle in interesting, surprising, and mostly satisfying ways.

Because, let's face it, many of the people on your Facebook feed are not people you would take the time to write letters to back in the good ol' days. And that's because, back in the good ol' days, a lot of them would have lived, worked and died right down the street from you. We don't live that way anymore, for better and for worse.  Now, we're a virtual village in the County of Zuckerbergia. 

So maybe you're thinking, but what about the town you live in, why don't you participate there instead of your online hamlet?  Well, first, I do. But second, the kind of world we live and work in is one in which people do not work down the street from home. So frequenting the local shops and meeting the neighbors has to happen after or before work and on the weekends. Times when all of us are busy with the business of our lives (like laundry and grocery shopping and laying around on the sofa watching America's Test Kitchen at nap time).

But there, my friends, Facebook steps in to lend a hand, too.

Example:  one night I pined for cake in my Facebook status, after my son had gone to bed. Within minutes, my across-the-street neighbor was on my doorstep, a giant slab of chocolate cake in hand. Sure, it may be trivial, cake (but cake is never trivial), but maybe you get my point. Facebook, for me, facilitates community, near and far. 

I can see a different side of it -- a side where you dive into an electronic world and never emerge from your room.  But most people aren't like that. Most people live in the world and use Facebook to stay in touch with various parts of it. 

So for all it's ills (and the occasional over-sharing that goes on), I'm happy it exists.  Life's richer because I got to see that cute picture of your kid with ice cream all over his face. Keep posting!

Comfort in Randomness

I don't like supernaturalism.

I remember being a little weirded out by the idea of Santa Claus when I was a kid. I would think about -- and I mean really ponder -- the lyrics to Santa Claus Is Coming To Town and get a little chill. 

He sees you when you're sleeping.
He knows when you're awake. 
He knows when you've been bad or good,
So be good for goodness sake!

Honestly, the idea of some old stranger knowing my every move -- and he's not God -- gave me the willies.  Sure, I liked the gifts and stuff, but the stalking was another thing entirely.

So there was a certain sort of relief when I came to accept that he was a fun construct and not a real guy. True, I was still sad on the day that the affirmation of that realization was trumpeted by way of derisive laughter by my entire fifth grade class in the cafeteria (a teacher had told us to be good or Santa wouldn't come, and seemingly everyone but me laughed), but life is full of contradictions.

So when I hear someone tell me or someone else that something -- especially something bad -- was meant to be, my heart dies a little. 

Because, deep down, I don't believe that there's always a plan in the works. I'll just say it:  I don't believe it is, for instance, meant to be that some tragedy strikes. If it was meant to be, that means someone ordered up that tragedy:  that child's death, that parent's cancer, that horrible murder. And that seems like a terrible way to make a cosmic point. For what purpose?  What lesson is being taught through, for instance, the death of that child that is more valuable to the world than the life of that child?  What benefit is derived?

No, I confess, I find comfort in chance, in randomness. It gives me no comfort that a horrible thing is preordained or intended by some invisible actor for some, to my mind at least, misguided educational purpose. Indeed, it makes me angry at the actor who ordered the tragedy. But random tragedy, which no one plans (or at least, no one loving and benevolent plans), which just happens because life (and death) happens. That gives me peace.

Oh yeah, it's another post about my weight.

If you read me with any regularity, I'm sure you are tiring of this:

I'm still about 20 pounds overweight.

But here's the good news:  I recently had all my lady parts and other parts checked out and, apart from the weight (which no doctor even batted an eye at), everything checks out great.  Blood pressure:  great!  Total cholesterol:  great!  LDL:  great!  HDL:  great!  Triglycerides:  Great!  LDL/HDL ratio:  great!  Mammo:  great!  Even my skin, at forty-two-years-three-hundred-sixty-three days old is remarkably unlined.

I'm just kinda chubby.  Kinda jiggly in places.  Kinda two jeans sizes larger than what I'd want to be.  (Okay, three.)  Kinda biggish-boobed.  Kinda biggish.

But, I'm healthy, quite healthy.  And that is a blessing.  I am thankful.  I know that there are lots of people my age on medications to have blood pressure like mine or cholesterol like mine.  And I'm chugging away just fine on my own, even if I'm a bit overweight.

So I'm thankful.

But I'd still like to weigh less and be smaller and look better naked and not be embarrassed to wear shorts because of my thunder thighs.

I'm exercising and I'm eating mostly right.  Maybe I could skip the chocolate cake I had last night with my son or the nearly nightly glass of wine.  Or bread.  Or chocolate.  Or cheese.

But that's no fun.

And I don't deal with deprivation well.

So I've just decided not to worry too much about the number right now, and just be thankful for being healthy.  And keep doing what I'm doing.

It doesn't mean that I don't still want to lose the weight.  And it doesn't even mean that I won't try, but I'm just not going to worry about it anymore like I have done.  I'm just going to enjoy being healthy and understand that I'm blessed to have my health.  And I'm going to keep having fun, which includes occasional indulgences in chocolate icing with the little person.

Now, though, it's time for red wine and chocolate.  The Working Mom worked it pretty hard today doing a deposition and she's going to unwind.  And not feel guilty about it.  Night-night.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

What's a mother to do?

A friend of mine posted a link to this blog post on Facebook. And I read it. And gave it a the big thumbs up.

In it the writer, mother of "the Hall Boys," explains how she and her sons sometimes look at the kids' Facebook pages and if the mom sees a girl dressed or posed in a way the she deems inappropriate, she makes the kid delete the girl. No second chances. She wants to protect her sons and help them stay "pure."

Regarding the "keeping your kid pure part," I think she's fighting a losing battle, no matter how much she talks to them, how many times they read the Bible, or how hard they all pray. Teenaged boys, throbbing away with testosterone, are going to want to look at scantily clad females, be they peers or in a magazine.  And I don't think anyone -- mommy or otherwise -- is going to stop them doing it by going through their Facebook pages and deleting all the 16 year girls who have taken unfortunately provocative selfies.  Come to think of it, you're lucky if those selfies are all he's looking at. 

But in a post-Steubenville rape trial era, I can sympathize with a mother who wants to protect her sons from the sexual pitfalls of social media. My kid's not yet three, and I worry about when his days as a walking libido arrive. So I get the impulse. You don't want your kid to be the one forwarding some girl's naked ta-ta shot or much, much worse. So policing his Facebook activity is a way to do it. 

And the author of the Hall Boys post offers some advice to the girls taking the provocative selfies:  she knows you're better than that. She knows you're a good, smart, sweet girl who really isn't as slutty as your Facebook feed suggests. And she wants you to act like it and prove that you are the kind of girl she'd like her boys to date.  

I get that too. Because when I see a teen girl with her boobs and/or her booty hanging out, I think about how no one cares about her brain or her opinions because her Ts and A are getting in the way.  And that's the sorry, sad truth:  when you dress provocatively, you will provoke. And when teenaged girls provoke, they don't really understand what they're doing or inviting. They can't understand it fully, they haven't been there yet.  I hate to drag out the tired old phrase "youth and inexperience," but their youth and inexperience necessitates that they don't really know what they're doing.

Hey, if nearly 43-year-old me wears a lacy push-up bra, I know what I'm after, what I'm communicating, and what I'm likely to get. A teenager, not so much.  And I've written about this before, on this blog:  how the way you dress affects how people think about you.  In a post where I mused on the 20-something young professional women bringing sexy back to the workplace, I wrote, "I think that, fundamentally, we [middle-aged female professionals] feel that a sexy appearance means that you are less likely to be taken seriously by your peers."  I stand by that statement.  And it goes for teenaged girls too.  You're not likely to be seen as the next Ruth Bader Ginsberg if your bra is hanging out, whether you're a 27-year-old attorney or a 17-year-old high school senior.

The bone I had to pick with the Hall Boys' mom, upon first reading, was that she basically had a zero tolerance policy.  One skanky selfie and the girl was consigned to the Facebook trash bin.  I'm thinking, hey, we all make mistakes and especially when we're teenaged girls.  Maybe give the girl's mom a call, instead, and say, "I just saw Suzie's tits on Jimmy's Facebook feed, you might want to check it out."  (I mean, I couldn't be on the other side of town without my mom finding out somehow, and that was pre-cell phone, pre-Facebook, pre-Internet.  Heck, some people still used rotary phones back then.  But the Moms Network was in full force in my hometown.  Does it not work that way anymore?)

So, anyway, I clicked "like" and moved on, because I sympathized.

Then, a few hours later, another friend posted this on Facebook, a link to another blog post by a different woman, directly responding to the Hall Boys' mom. This woman, also a Christian, takes issue with the tenor of Mrs. Hall's post that sort of buys into the notion that boys and men are victims of their own biology in need of protection from these teen vixens. This author advocates teaching responsibility to the boys, and not just blaming the girls for dressing seductively and posing in sexy positions. The boys are not victims and it's not that they just can't help themselves. They're equal participants in the teen titillation tango, and should be treated as such.

She writes:  "[Modest culture] teaches men to dispose of women who don't fit their mold, under the guise of 'keeping themselves pure.'  It teaches men that women exist on a spectrum of worth determined by their clothing and that is is there right as men to determine which women are worth more - and yet, modest culture masks it as 'keeping away from sexual sin.'  It teaches men irresponsibility and play it off as 'integrity.'"

I read that and I thought, "God, she's right."  She's talking about slut shaming, right there in the church, disguised as virtue.  Without any effort to understand the girl -- she gets deleted for the first offense, after all, because the Hall Boys can't be exposed to a nano-second of provocation -- she is blamed for the boy's impure thoughts.  And so I liked that post on Facebook too.

. . . . because I want my boy to be in control of his own body and responsible for his own sexual activities and health. And keeping provocative images from him will not teach him that sort control, nor will it teach him to respect the girls he is banned from seeing.  Being what passes for a feminist firebrand in suburban Dallas County, I certainly want my son to see his female peers as people first, and not objects.  (It may help in years to come that The Boy has lots of female friends who are very much his equals in every way except, perhaps, volume.  He beats them in "loud" every time.)

But the problem with the response blog post is that it does not pose an answer.

The answer is not to shame the girls who dress provocatively.

The answer is not to make boys feel that they are the victims of their libidos and that they just can't help themselves when they see a sexy picture.

The answer is also not to tell girls that they can dress like a Victoria's Secret model, but we'll still think of them as the Supreme Court Justice that they've got hidden deep inside.

The way you dress communicates something to the wider world.  Girls must understand this.

But the way a girl dresses is not everything that she is.  Boys must understand this.

So since yesterday, I've had these thoughts rolling around in my head, musing as to what the right answer is.  I've thought about how I would talk to The Boy about these issues, when he is The Teen, and, specifically, when the inevitable sexy pictures of some classmate or another shows up.  Man, that's going to be an uncomfortable conversation, but we're just going to have to have the conversation.  And it's going to have to involve what we think is going on in the girl's head and what she might be thinking and how the picture is not the only thing about her.  And I'll probably ask him what he thinks of her intellect and what she's good at besides doing fish faces into the camera . . .  or something like that.  And, yeah, I may be calling Suzie's mom to tell her about the picture . . . .  I'm old school like that.

But what about the girls?  There's a trend among feminist, I think, to call any criticism of provocative female dress "slut shaming."  This is crap.  I've written about this topic too:
I mean, don't get me wrong, a woman's sexy attire does not mean she's asking for a sexual assault.  But I just can't get from, "My short skirt is not a rape invitation," to total female empowerment.  I guess the point is that we can be what we want to be.  We are free women.  We can get our boobs out any time we want.  Slutty, empowered, independent me!  As an expression of outrage, I totally get the Slut Walks.  As an expression of female power, I really don't. 
Because we can't – we shouldn't – get our boobs out any time we want.  We live in a society in which people are judged by their looks, men and women.  I’ve touched on this issue before, the fine line between sexy and powerful that women seem to walk.  And I firmly believe that if you want to be respected by your peers – and that includes your female peers – you have to dress and act and talk in a way that commands that respect.  And that means sometimes, you have to put your boobs away when circumstances dictate.  I am not empowered because I have some powerful cleavage.  I am empowered because I am well-educated, articulate, professional, intelligent, witty and quick.  My powerful cleavage may have turned a few heads in its day, but it has never stood up to oral argument in court like my gray, old, wrinkly brain has.  Maybe I just don't get it, but the attempt to reclaim the word slut as a feminist power-word seem so retrograde.  Honestly, it feels juvenile, even fatuous.  These are not two adjectives I wish to be affixed to my sex.
So, yeah.  In other words, there's a time and place for getting your boobs out, and the time and the place for getting them out is not "anytime" and "anywhere."  It's not slut shaming to say that or admit that.  It just is.  When you get your boobs out at the "wrong" time or in the "wrong" place, there are consequences, which include that people don't think as well of you as they otherwise might.  And girls need to learn that.  Learning that lesson is an important component of learning about their bodies and how to control their sexuality.  And, preferably, they need to learn it from their moms or other female role models.

Umm.  Anyway.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but I'm pretty sure it's not an either/or proposition.  Girl Mommas gotta find a way to talk to their girls about the messages they're sending when they dress provocatively.  And Boy Mommas gotta find a way to talk to the boys about the messages they're receiving and try to turn them around to see the real person in that impossibly short skirt.  And we all will be very uncomfortable for about four to six years.  At least, I think so . . . Maybe if I start planning now, I'll be ready for this when it comes up for me in a decade or so.  I'll let you know.

(P.S., this all goes for Daddies too, which should go without saying, but I'm talking "momma" because the original two blog posts were by mommas, and because I'm a momma too.)