Mercury is in retrograde! This, I think, explains a lot.
I do not tend to blame everything on external forces, but Mercury will still be in retrograde when time change occurs this coming weekend, so I feel it best to set my expectations for myself and the rest of the world quite low, as we all wander around in a fog of exhaustion, going back to school drop-offs in the dark with a general feeling of confusion.
My friend Hannah (HI HANNAH) noticed something in her dayhome the other day:
It’s true. Jealousy can be very automatic, and I think it’s natural, sometimes, to want what we do not – and in some cases, cannot – have.
Take, for example, my friends Florence and Janet (HI FLORENCE HI JANET). These two are the most supportive of friends, they are like the sisters I have never had. They are beautiful souls, hard working, and devoted mothers. They also both have the most naturally amazing, effortless hair, and I will admit: I covet. Their hair isn’t one of those things that appears to be effortless but actually takes a lot of effort, like natural-looking makeup. Their hair is literally effortless. I know this because Florence has stopped by my house after her morning swim on occasion, with wet hair, and over the course of a coffee her hair dries into this perfect, naturally wavy hairstyle, thick and shiny and beautiful. I mean, can you imagine? Janet and I practice yoga together every morning at 5:00 am, and every morning at 5:00 am she swans into the studio looking like a hair model, even though she literally just got out of bed. Then, she takes her long, thick, curly hair and whips it up into a messy bun, and she looks like she has had a team of stylists working on her, even though she put approximately ten seconds of effort into it. Again, can you imagine? Maybe you are a person with similar gifts, and if so, I envy you too.
So I will freely admit my jealousy about their gorgeous manes, but here is the important thing that I want to talk about: their perfect hair really has nothing to do with me. They are not shaming me with their beautiful hair. Their purpose in life isn’t to walk around with perfectly amazing hair and make the rest of us feel bad, they just HAVE perfectly amazing hair. I can be jealous of their hair and ALSO be proud and lucky to have them as friends. They, as it is popular to say now, lift me up, and I try to lift them up too. We lift each other up.
And I would repeat that for all of the women in my life who I call friends: we all lift each other up.
Therefore, what I am about to talk about does not in any way refer to my supportive network of friends, the ones near and far. What I am about to discuss is really more of a social media phenomenon.
I have mixed feelings about the saying No one can make you feel inferior without your consent because if someone is INTENTIONALLY being an asshole, that kind of absolves that person from blame. Saying or doing something with unkind intentions, well, that can hurt or make the recipient of such actions feel inferior, no consent required.
Intention matters, is what I’m saying.
Apparently there’s a new trend on TikTok, with mothers videoing bento box lunches that they have – I assume lovingly – prepared for their children. And, if you have ever been on that thing called the internet, you will not be surprised to know that there is a huge backlash about it. “Mom-shaming,” people say, “Must be nice to have so much time on your hands.”
Two things: I have not, and I never will be, on TikTok, as the thought of anything like that is extremely unappealing. I am turning into my own curmudgeonly grandfather here, I have never even used Uber, not because I have issues with it but because I don’t really want to go through the process of learning something new. What’s wrong with a taxi? Second, I have not and never will – because my kids are teenagers – made a bento box lunch, mostly because my kids came home for lunch every day during elementary school. But I think that they are adorable and I kind of wish that I had. And if I had, maybe I would have taken a photo of it. After all, half my instagram feed is photos of baked goods.
Getting back to the point: a woman putting a video of her cute lunch on TikTok is NOT mom-shaming. Mom-shaming is a real thing, that’s for sure, but celebrating a cute lunch? That’s no more shaming than a person talking about an exercise class they had gone to or a book they have read. That’s sharing, not shaming, intention is what makes the difference. My reaction to a cute lunch/ exercise class/ book is my own issue.
That woman who videoed her lunch is not better or worse than the mom who throws a Lunchable in a bag and calls it a day, or the mom who slaps a piece of bologna between two slices of bread and calls it a day. We are all different, we all parent differently, but the common thread here is that we all do the best with the time and resources that we have, and honestly, if one feels “shamed” from watching something like this on the internet, then I would submit that the issue falls with the recipient of those feelings. I would like hair like Florence or Janet, but their beauty does not diminish me as a person. They are not walking around being naturally gorgeous to shame me, they are just walking around being naturally gorgeous.
It seems to me that the women who are the loudest and most vocal about Lifting Each Other Up only want to Lift Up the women who are similar to them in life journeys and circumstances. I will be your support person but only if you admit that you also find making lunches boring and terrible. I will be your support person only if you are just like me in every way and face the same struggles in the same manner as I do. If we are truly Lifting Each Other Up, then we need to do that regardless of one’s place in the journey of life or one’s circumstances.
Intention matters. We need to be able to celebrate accomplishments, beautiful things, and happiness. If someone posts about their new jean size, or a photo of themselves in a bikini, or a fancy cake, or a bento box lunch, we need to be able to be happy for the person posting, we need to be able to celebrate and lift each other up. If we are not, if we cannot, then some self-examination might be in order here. The intention of a woman proud of the way she looks and posting a flattering photo is not to shame the people looking at the photo, but rather to celebrate herself. This is what we all should be doing, really; celebrating ourselves and our beautiful friends. My knitting friends, Alana and Kourtney (HI ALANA HI KOURTNEY) showcase photos of their beautiful creations NOT with the intention to shame me, a person who literally cannot sew a button on a pair of pants without devastating results, but rather to celebrate their own accomplishments. I have many friends who write and publish books, and those are accomplishments to be celebrated; they have nothing to do with some of us who have been writing a blog since 2008 with nary a book to be seen.
If we are going to truly Lift Each Other Up, we need to do that. One woman’s gifts do not diminish another woman’s.