School’s out for-evah!

In an attempt to lighten the mood around here (my husband Jody says my blog is “pretty heavy”), I will write about something other than the injustices in the world. Though while it may not be heavy, I assure you, this post is still a rant. ;)

“School’s out for summer. School’s out for-evah!”
Well, not really, but it sure feels like it’s been out forever and it’s only the first week the neighborhood kids (specifically the girl gang that lives next door) have been out!

Let me give ya a little background info here. I live next door to a family of nine – a husband, a wife, four blonde daughters between the ages of about 5 and 12 (that consitutes a gang, wouldn’t you say?), a dog and two cats.

The girls run rampant (often barefoot) through the neighborhood, generally with their dog in tow. They have this oh-so-lovely habit of traipsing across my lawn on the way back to their house, making track marks in the grass and often leaving crap along the way – Barbies, balls for the dog, Tupperware(?), ropes, whatever.

The girl gang has been sighted jumping on their backyard trampoline in their bathing suits in all kinds of weather – rain, snow, when it is 40 degrees out, whenever. I guess when you’re a kid, you don’t have a temperature gauge in your head that makes you think, “Hmm, it’s cold out here, maybe I should have a sweatshirt on instead of my bikini.” And their dog, who, when not out galavanting over the neighborhood with the girls, spends most of his time in their front yard, has dug holes in our yard as well as peed on the grass turning it an attractive shade of yellow. “Buddy” can often be spotted jumping on the trampoline as well.

The “gang” also enjoys riding around on their bikes – 4 across – in the street, making it nearly impossible for cars to pass. Thankfully we live on a street that gets little car traffic, but there have been ocassions we’ve had to slam on our brakes to avoid disrupting the gang.

Because the kids and dog are always out and about, my dogs get stirred up and feel the need to bark. I’m sure they are thinking, “why does ‘Buddy’ get to roam the neighborhood and not us?” Which would also explain their many “prison breaks” from our backyard lately.

And while we’re on the topic of barking, do you think a certain individual has the right to complain about my dogs barking when she has thrown treats over the fence to them in the past in an effort to get them to stop? (Which worked quite well by the way.) Now she suddenly doesn’t want to give them treats when they bark and somehow it is our fault that they continue to bark? Have ya ever heard of Pavlov’s dog? They’ve been conditioned to bark. Why the hell would they stop now when they think they can get fed for it? (Oh yeah, one of the gang members likes to hang over the fence and “talk” to the dogs too. I’m sure that helps matters.)

That brings me to the cats that, not unlike the rest of the family, roam the streets at will. We put some sand under our front porch because some of the dirt had washed away. Well, guess what became their new litter box. Ewww! Nice to walk out your front door to smell cat piss and see piles of poop. Thankfully that situation was remedied once we put some dirt over the sand. Say bye-bye to your litter box, kitties.

Another one of my beefs has to do with the fact that they store their bikes (all 6 of them) alongside their garage, which is what I see when I look out my front door. They are conveniently hidden from *their* view, which I guess is all that matters.

Anyway, several months ago, I was tickled pink to see a For Sale sign planted firmly in their front yard. Given the timing, I figured they had a good chance of selling the house and moving by the time summer rolled around, thus leaving me to bitch about the new neighbors (whomever they might be, cuz I gotta bitch about somebody, right?). But a few months passed by, and before their Realtor put out the coveted “SOLD” sign, the For Sale was removed. *Gasp!* It now resides in their garage, taunting me as if to say, “We’re not leeeeeeaving.” Ugh! :(

So it looks like we’re in for yet another long summer of hiding in our house, lest we subject ourselves to being accosted by the gang members yelling over the fence or running us down in the street. ;)

Is bigger better?

The question of “Do any of you have breast implants?” was recently posed on a message board I visit. Many of the women responded no, but that they’ve thought about it or would like to, especially because their boobs are deflated or lopsided after having nursed their child(ren). I don’t think any of these women are looking to get Pamela Anderson implants, just something that looks “natural” and fuller and makes them feel good about themselves.

One woman chimed in to say that although she has noticed a significant change in the shape of her breasts after having her daughter, she does not have any plans for elective surgery. She went on to say that she wishes “the standards of beauty would adjust so we could all embrace our mothering bodies instead of wishing we still looked like young women who haven’t had children.”

I don’t think what she said was meant to be a slight in any way on the women who would like to have breast implants, but the fact that many women have considered implants is a comment on our society. Let’s face it, our society does not desire women who look like they just stepped out of a National Geographic magazine. Big, round and voluptous are in. Small, flat and saggy are not (even though sagging is completely natural and something that happens to all women’s breasts over time).

I had to agree with her. I may not be happy with the way my breasts look after I’m done nursing all of my children (they are already well on their way to droopyville), but I think my image of what looks good comes heavily from celebrities and the media.

I want raise my daughter to have a healthy body image. I think that is getting harder and harder to do when there are so many big-buxomed teen idols and young women getting implants (if you’ve ever walked around CU’s campus you know what I mean).

But anyway, I digress.

I came across this website – 007 Breasts – that discusses the breast taboo in North America and our obsession with breasts, as well as other things (including a gallery showing a range of normal non-sexual breasts and a page about breasts and body image in puberty). According to the site: “By age thirteen, 53 percent of American girls are unhappy with their bodies; but by age seventeen, 78 percent are dissatisfied. By far the majority of adult women in the US are not happy with their breasts. The proof of that is that so many women (well over 200,000 in year 2002) choose breast implants, a risky procedure that can impair their health and forces them to have several surgeries afterwards and eventually have the implants removed.”

It goes on to say:
“What causes women to worry so much about their breast size as part of their body image?
The answer is laid out on the billboards, magazine ads, media and television. Practically every single woman you see in advertisements is extremely slim and has huge breasts, which are depicted as a sexual organ that catches the male’s attention. Women and girls in the United States are bombarded by those pictures all day long, so it is no wonder most girls and women therefore start believing (at least subconsciously) it is the ideal form of female body and that they should strive for it too.”

“In the USA people typically see only their own breasts and those of the supermodels – which have been fixed and changed and the photos have been airbrushed, modified, you name it. All they can perceive of other women’s breasts around them are just that they are bra-bound and bra-lifted. So this causes people – both men and women – think that the ‘normal’ or ‘typical’ breast is what they see the models have in TV and magazines, and that anything else is sagging/too small/ugly/abnormal. Oh, what a deception!”

My question is what can we do to help our society get away from thinking of breasts as sexual? How can we raise our daughters to have positive body images and our sons to not objectify women?

I don’t have the answers to these questions (I wish I did), but I think we can look to Europe (where breasts aren’t seen as taboo) for some ideas. If women saw more breasts than just their own and those of supermodels and celebrities, they would know that they are normal and breasts come in all shapes and sizes. I also think the more women breastfeed, the more breasts will be seen as a means of nourishing young rather than something to be sexualized. At least that is a place to start.

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“Plastic surgery and breast implants are fine for people who want that, if it makes them feel better about who they are. But, it makes these people, actors especially, fantasy figures for a fantasy world. Acting is about being real, being honest.” — Kate Winslet

“I am totally against plastic surgery. A lot of people think I have breast implants because I have the biggest boobs in the business. But I was a 34C when I was 17…They stay up when I wear a push-up bra. But if people could see me when I come home and take off my bra, how could they think these are fake?” — Tyra Banks

Lactating moms to host nurse-in in response to “The View”

I was happy to recently discover that many lactating mommies in the NYC area are organizing a nurse-in on June 6 to protest anti-breastfeeding remarks made by several of the co-hosts of ABC’s tv show “The View.” “The breastfeeding mothers are protesting the general anti-breastfeeding attitude of the co-hosts of The View and comments made concerning their opinions that breastfeeding and nursing in public is ‘gross and disgusting’ in nature.” The nurse-in will be held outside of ABC’s studios at 67th Street and Columbus Avenue in New York City, where taping of the daytime talk show The View takes place.

Click here for details of the nurse-in

It’s so frustrating to me to hear that educated women in the media spotlight, especially Barbara Walters, would say negative things about breastfeeding or nursing in public. I understand that she grew up in a different generation, but surely she should educate herself on the subject and the numerous health benefits of breastfeeding (and the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization both endorse it), rather than make statements about how mothers nursing in public make her uncomfortable.

She is a woman of great influence. How unfortunate that she cannot use her status to promote breastfeeding and make women feel good about their decision to do so, rather than talk them down and act like feeding their baby is something to be ashamed of.

I’m also frustrated with the fact that it appears she and others are not being supportive of fellow co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck who recently gave birth. She was (and I believe may still be) breastfeeding, but the cast recently made a celebratory announcement that Elisabeth’s daughter received her first bottle of formula. The audience cheered. Pardon me for my ignorance, but I don’t understand why that is cause for celebration. I understand that some women choose to formula feed and there are also those that have no choice but to formula feed, but is giving baby formula really a reason to cheer? I just don’t get it. I know a few women who would give anything to be able to breastfeed their children (they can’t due to various medical conditions), and I’ll bet you money they weren’t cheering when they had to give their child his or her first bottle of formula.

Anyway, if there are any NYC mommies who read my blog and want to participate in the nurse-in, please check out the link above. I’d love it if someone who went came back to my blog and told us how it went. I’m also very curious to see if the cast of “The View” will acknowledge that the nurse-in is taking place.

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“My opinion is that anybody offended by breastfeeding is staring too hard” — David Allen