My original plan for this post headed in a different direction than we’re going today. The longer I mentally composed it, the more things occurred to me to force me to realize what it really was I wanted to say. In the beginning I wanted it to be a story of what it’s like to grow up without a female presence. in the end perhaps it’s what it’s like to grow up with a strong male presence instead. The moment it changed the most drastically was when, at our Easter family gathering my sister-cousin told me to close my eyes and then commented, “You don’t even wear makeup and you know how to put it on. I always feel like mine is the scrawling of a 4 year old.”
That’s one of those things I had to teach myself because I had no one to do it. But I realize that the other deficiencies are minor and few. but the benefit of a fatherly run household are immense. This I realized because of Barbie.
I cannot align myself with the women’s groups who throw a huge fit over the fact that Barbie sets unrealistic standards for little girls. I wonder, does she really? or is it we adults who want to be Barbie and we project our wants on our daughters? Because I never wanted to be Barbie. Did I know subconsciously even as a child that Barbie is not a real representation of a woman? I don’t know. I do know who I wanted to be. Samantha Parkington, my American Girl Doll. I wanted to be her, with her round arms, chubby hands with dimpled knuckles, her soft and squishy middle and charming back story.
I do not have unreal expectations about my body or appearance. Yes, I am currently in the middle of a weight loss event; 16 pounds down 24 to go. But this is croc weight and my goal is neither unattainable nor set in stone. If I find comfort and happiness 10 or 15 or 20 pounds from now, fine. I only want to be at a healthy weight before I start my next pregnancy and have a healthy lifestyle that means I won’t gain as much as last time. I only want to feel good and not uncomfortable, constrained in my clothes. That’s really not actually a hard thing to do; yoga pants and stretchy tank tops are my very best friends.
I think I gained this ability to accept myself as-is because I did not have an example of a woman questing for the unattainable when I was young and impressionable. instead I had my dad; long hair, tattoos, ear piercings, wearing whatever tshirt was on top of the pile; looking the way he looked and not taking shit for it. yes, I wear make up, but it’s eye shadow and mascara, when I feel like it. Yes, I like to dress nicely in bright colors and newer styles, but it’s Old Navy that’s the store eating up all of my clothing budget. And it may be headed in the wrong direction to say this, feminism-wise, but I like causing my husband to think i’m attractive. I don’t want him to think of me as the frumpy hobo who watches his kid.
In the end I hope most that this is what the croc learns from me when she’s looking for a role model in loving of self and finding of beauty in flaws and the confidence to take it all in stride. I hope her eyes land on me and not some silly piece of plastic. I can be her good example and I don’t even have to temper my own actions; watch what I do or say. this is already the way I am; who my dad raised me to be.
And so, as a mom with a daughter, I stand behind Barbie. She is a vet and a doctor, a teacher and a flight attendant, a homemaker, best friend, big sister and mom. And if you can find nothing else positive about that silly piece of plastic, she teaches hella fine motor skills; those tiny velcroed outfits are a bitch to get on and off!