Life Lessons


I was surprised to see the family bed debate hit prime time on CNN yesterday.  It is a topic of intense personal-impact and very little societal impact.  Whether or not a family co-sleeps warrants the topic of hot-debate just about as much as whether or not a Mom chooses to babywear.  It’s intensely personal – purely a family choice.

But on CNN, Psychologist Lawrence Shapiro stated that the family bed, “is not giving children what they need”.  He goes on to explain that kids really should be sleeping in their own beds from two years on.   And many medical ‘experts’ mirror his opinion, stating reasons like, autonomy for the child, space for the parents, fostering individuality and positive sleep habits, and the list goes on.  Autonomy at 18 months of age?  Now that comment, I disagree with… but that’s a whole other post, isn’t it?

As for me, I don’t take a stance for or against co-sleeping because our family does what is right for us, and I cannot worry about what other families do. If I did, I’d be insanely nosy, and – truthfully, I’d go crazy.  What strikes me odd is that National News programs feel the need to critique attachment parenting practices like this, yet, issues like children spending hours de-tached from their families in daycares and schools, and the over-obsessive media-culture our kids live in are left untouched.  I mean, really?

Do we co-sleep?  No.  Not if I can help it.  We use many attachment parenting methods, but the family bed was never one of them.  For me, sleeping with our kids past newborn/infant stage just did not work.  I almost lost Audrey off the side of the bed when she was tiny due to lack of sleep and delusional night-time nursing.  Personally, I felt (and still feel) our kids sleep much better on their own.  We did have a bassinet/crib in our room for a long time with our two youngest (up to 5-6 months?) but not in our bed.  Our eldest was in his own crib, in his room, at one month old because he was such a loud sleeper and I was such an over-anxious new Mom that I was getting NO sleep.

When our kids are in our bed, no one sleeps.  They toss and turn and talk and giggle and whine and drive me and my husband crazy.  The two of us have never been able to understand how people claim to sleep BETTER in the family bed.  It just isn’t the case with our family.  Do our kids crawl in after a bad dream or for a cuddle?  Sure.  Do we sometimes cuddle our kids to sleep in their beds?  Sure.  But most of the time, it’s just Wes and I in our own bed, and we’re very happy about that.

For us, fostering our quiet time and time alone is crucial – especially with three babies really close together.  That is our sanctuary, our space, our time to be in each other’s arms.  Also, I home school our kids and spend extensive amounts of time with them everyday.  Were I to sleep with them too, I honestly fear I’d lose my mind.

Now, I’m sure a co-sleeping parent could give me a long list as to why sleeping with their munchkins WORKS for them… and I don’t mean to make this seems like and anti-co-sleeping post, as it’s not at all.  I’m simply taking the spin from our family perspective.  (If fact, I’d love to hear from you in the Comments!!!).

It does offend me when co-sleeping parents say things like,”How can you deprive that closeness?”.  It bugs me because it insinuates that, by having my children sleep in their own beds, I’m somehow depriving them of something.  I don’t feel I deprive my kids of anything – and certainly not love, attention, and affection.  In our home, if we co-slept, I feel I’d be depriving our kids of a proper sleep and a happy Mommy and Daddy.

Here’s the clip from CNN.

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It’s amazing the amount of damage that can be done with a crowbar and some time!  Thank goodness for my Dad-in-law, who was more than willing to rip out our old kitchen –  here are some pics!

Hooray for ripping out old, gross kitchens and walls – looking forward to the new!  🙂

 

The Kitchen Cupboards are out!

 

 

The kitchen wall is out...

 

The weird plants that were growing in our walls... strange.

When we got the keys to our new place Friday, I was excited.  REALLY excited.

When we actually pulled up Saturday morning, unlocked the door, and stepped in – I saw everything with new eyes.  New, scared, reality-based eyes.  I’m willing to admit – most of Saturday consisted of me acting as a mini-tyrant, running around upset at the world in ‘almost’ tears, looking at this tiny, beat-up country home we wanted so badly.  Thank goodness my husband and parents are so forgiving and understanding.

The past 5 days have been a roller-coaster of emotions.  I’ve hit everything from elated to completely devastated to laughing out loud.  The home we bought is the kind of house you drive by and think, “Aw, that’s a cute little country home!”.  But, you never really know what that can mean until you move into one – or start to.  (We don’t actually move in until late November).  Almost everything is needed.  None of the electrical outlets are grounded and there are almost no outlets in the upper level and none in the bathrooms at all.  The walls move when you push them because the plaster is so old and poorly done – everything inside seems to slant in some way or another (though the foundation is very solid).  There is almost no storage, we need a new septic system, a complete outdoor re-vamp (including what takes a digger), insulation, better and more efficient heating, new windows (they’re original – with the old pullies… pretty neat!), the basement has it’s own little stream (great for the kids! *snort*) and needs to be completely fixed,  the cistern needs emptying, cleaning, servicing, and re-filling because our water is currently toxic and filled with E coli.  And that’s just to start…

Nice.

But this is what we signed up for!  We knew all this when we invested in this beautiful little home on a gorgeous 1/4 acre property on the escarpment.  And it’s going to be worth it!  Right?  Please, just say, “Right!”.

Despite the ups and downs, I have been consistently ‘up’ for about 48 hours now, so I think I’m well on my way to being generally okay with this decision.  A whole lot of coffee, chocolate, and a new kitchen have also REALLY helped my transition.  This is a journey, and I’m excited, for sure.  I’m

Alex almost conked out on the new living room floor... just thinking about all the renovating is TIRING!

especially excited my Dad is so excited because without him, we’re sunk.  And, that would pretty much sink the excitement too.  Excitement is the word here.  I’m building on it.   Literally, actually!  And my Mom’s continued support in every way keeps me going too.  Wes and I are really, really – well – excited about what is to come.  Even if it is a ridiculous amount of work.  And money.

The first big decision we made that was above and beyond what we were planning to do right away is the kitchen (as mentioned).  The kitchen is the heart of the home, and especially for us – as it’s where we do a lot of home schooling (art projects, science experiments, games, activities, reading, phonics lessons, math, on and on) every single day.  When I stepped into our new house and really took a good look at the kitchen, my heart sank to my toes.  Don’t get me wrong, the room is beautiful – three huge country windows and lots of space – but the cabinets were almost non-existent and what was there was old, tacky, and falling apart.  We originally said we’d rough it out for a while, but our hearts are telling

The kitchen as it is right now. Yikes.

us a different story.  And thank goodness we have my Dad, who is so willing to help with the install.

As soon as I found out we were doing the kitchen, my spirits lifted.  I felt there was hope in the world, so long as I could have a beautiful kitchen.  Who cares if there’s no water and I’ll have to run extension cords to run the blender – dangit, I’ll have my kitchen!  ha…

In all honesty, despite the chaos of dealing with BIG issues like water, septic, and electrical concerns, there’s something therapeutic about doing something simple and soul-warming like picking out paint colours and buying cabinets.  Funny, because I’m not at all a shopper and would never ‘shop’ for therapy – but in this case, that kind of stuff has been and will most-likely continue to be my refuge!  For all else, we can only look up.  We truly believe this home is a gift from God to us – if only we could fit a bow around it.  All the quirks and bumps in the road will only make us stronger and help us appreciate life-as-we-know-it more.  We are so blessed – as a family, in this community, in this country – and by God!  Let the fun begin!

 

Proof the new Kitchen is a sure-thing! 🙂

Paint choices... comments?

 

 

“Moving House” will invite you to join me and my family as we go through the ups and downs of moving into our first country house – and our journey to make it a home.

I think it’s hilarious that our daughter continues to say, “we’re moving house!”.  You can tell we’ve been reading lots of UK-based Usborne Books…

But we are.  Well, reading lots of Usborne AND moving.  I’m still in a whirlwind of emotions, stress, and general craziness.  Ever since we were married, my hubby and I have dreamed of moving to the country where our kids would have a big lot and we’d have lots of space to run, plant gardens, have bonfires, and enjoy nature.  It never had to be big or fancy – just sweet and warm, and cozy.  Well, our dream is becoming reality!  We’re moving from our townhome to a beautiful little fixer-upper on a quater acre lot on top of the escarpment.  I feel blessed, elated, scared, and nervous all at the same time.


Our new home

I never thought I’d live in Dundas.  I’d only been here a handful of times as a child.  But when we found our first home here, we settled in and grew a strong attachment to this beautiful town.  There’s nothing better than being in a community where you can go to the park or walk to the store and pass 4 families you know my name.  This home is where we raised all of our babies – and had 2 beautiful homebirths.  There are so many amazing memories, happy times, growth – so much has taken place in the home we will be leaving…

I can still glance over to the side of my bed and see a vision of my beautiful Aunt Deb (who passed away last year) smiling and crying as she watched me hold a newborn Alex, elated with me in the bliss of his birth.

I can still feel the warmth of Christmas Dinners around the table, the smell of Grandma’s pies warming in the oven – and giggle at cherished moments like when Aunt Deb almost singed her wig (for the second time) while trying to take the turkey out of the oven… she always had such an amazing sense of humor.

Sitting at the foot of our recliner, intently listening to Gramps tell funny and heart-warming stories of his childhood in Nova Scotia – and then writing down everything I could remember at the end of the night, so I’d never forget even one of those precious tales.

Other moments are less obvious, but equally special – like when Uncle Tony taught me how to prepare a Turkey on Christmas day, when my Mom-in-law and I shared a long chat over tea at the Kitchen table,  when family-friends Jenny and Joe brought us a special gift of love after Simon broke his arm, when our neighbours recently came over and expressed how much they’ll miss us through tears…

I sigh at the thought of our little ones teetering on the way down the (too many) stairs that line this house – and I want to cry at the thought that there will be no more of our babies teetering here – because they’re getting so big.

The times cuddled up in our big bed reading story after story – feeling the bliss of three warm little ones sleepily taking in the beautiful pages.

Late-night (after we’d managed to get all the munchkins to bed!) movie nights and cheese dips with Wesley – those times that aren’t special because we’re doing anything exciting, but because we’re simply together.

The hundreds of Moms and families and babies I met and helped wear their babies when Panda Pouch was run out of our first floor.  How their stories inspired me, changed me, and how many good, lasting friendships I’ve made.

The time Wes and I laid in bed staring at a dark ceiling and I whispered, “Wanna hear something funny? ….  I’m pregnant.”  (With a VERY SURPRISE number 3 babe… haha.)

The work – OH! The work that has been put into this home – My Dad… the love he has shown to us and the amount of time, care, effort, and hard sweat and work he’s put into our home with us.  My Mom and her love-filled help and warmth… my sister and the times we’ve sat and had tea and chatted about life, boys, and everything else!

The times my heart has been warmed to the core as I watched our kids run to the door screaming, “NANA!  PAPA! AUNTIE CARRIE!” or “GRAMMA!  GRAMPA!” or even, “MISSS JENNNNNNNY!”, “MISS DENIIIISSSSE!” (or insert any other good friend’s name with a “Miss” in front!)

The countless hours of time I’ve spent sitting in our kitchen, creating, learning, and discovering with the kids… endless games of Chess with Simon – some before 7am (sigh), hundreds of colouring pages with Audrey, and cherished messy snack-time with Alex.

Late night chats, laughter, and desserts with my parents… more special to me than they’ll ever know…

I could go on forever – but everything in life has a season, doesn’t it?

We’re ready to move forward.  *Gulp*  We are grateful for what we’ve had and grateful for what we will have.  And it took me some time to realize that all these memories will stay with me – they are not tied to this house, they are bound in my soul.

Memories are wonderful things because they have no end while we are on this earth!  More can be created at our new home – more rich, wonderful times – full of love.  And I look forward to painting, decorating, having the kids’ help with setting up our rooms and making them warm and fun.  I crave setting up the kids’ discovery centers and books everywhere and making our home full of excitement and creativity – we’re surely missing those things living in our currently staged house!

Praise God for memories that live with us forever – and for new beginnings and the excitement and opportunity they bring!

Keep in touch over the next few weeks/months – I plan to blog our journey as we move into our new house and journey towards making it ‘home’ 🙂

WHY!?

I thought it was bad enough that I was seeing 7 and 8 year olds wearing string bikinis this summer.  But now, I’m seeing them on infants.  I found a site this week and couldn’t believe there were actually pictures of babies (newborns to toddlers) modeling string bikinis in various poses.  (I am not listing it here or linking to it for fear of linking the wrong kind of people to the site).

As a society at large, we are grossly in denial of the direction we are headed.  Kids (mostly girls) are being sexualized at younger and younger ages.  Heck, there are even pole dancing kits for primary age girls!  And in response to my concerns about these topics, I’ve heard comments like, “clothes don’t sexualize kids – people do,” and “only a sicko would look at a little girl that way”.  Well, those statements are both true and false.  Actually, both people AND clothes sexualize kids – and in this case, babies.  And, sure, mostly only sickos look at kids in a sexual way, but, when we dress our kids up like little under-dressed women, even the everyday man (or woman?) could see them in a sexual light.

To “sexualize” is to give sexual association to something.  When you are putting something “sexy” on your child, you are associating the idea of ‘being sexy’ with their tiny body.  Period.  Don’t try to sugar-coat it.  Whether you think it’s sexy or not doesn’t matter, society has made it so, and therefor, it is.

So many parents (and obviously the manufacturers and marketers of such products) are incredibly misinformed if they don’t think there are a lot of creeps out there, right in your neighborhood.  Child porn is the largest and fastest growing industry online and worldwide.  And, yes, sick adults do lust after very young children – it’s reality.  It’s up to us as parents and consumers of children’s products to boycott companies who make inappropriate attire for kids.

Although I’m pretty convinced their creators do not have harmful intentions for our daughters, their naivety to the seriousness of sexualizing babies and photographing and posting them online is unfortunate and extremely angering.  These precious little ones have no say in who looks at and lusts after their bodies.

Many people I talk to think I’m too ‘out there’ and that I worry too much about ‘the small stuff’.  I would challenge that when we have a society where CHILD porn is the fastest growing online industry, millions of little girls as young as 4 are trafficked in the sex-trade business every year, and children are being raped and molested every day – issues of sexualizing babies is a VERY big deal.  And it is just that.  Whether we like it or not or intend to do it or not – it is what it is.

Ways to take a stand –

1. Dress your baby and children in appropriate swimwear.

2. Do not buy from companies that make or distribute products that sexualize young children.

3. Write a letter.  If you truly want to voice your concerns, write to the manufacturers of such products and voice your concern.  If enough Moms stop buying and enough Moms speak up – maybe these products will fade and be replaced by more age-appropriate clothing.

Everything starts with the “small stuff” – and to some, babies in bikinis is “small stuff”.  But, I’d challenge: If as Moms we’re ok with our infants looking “hot” – where on earth do we go from there?

*Frustrated.*

In case you’re wondering, to me – appropriate baby girl swimwear looks like this:

A couple nights ago, as I washed dishes, I was consumed by an over-whelming sense of gratitude.   Normally, doing dishes and cleaning the house happens at about 10pm for Wes and I.  So, needless to say, I’m usually not too thrilled about the task.

As I was wiping the counter tops, I randomly started thinking about the Mamas out there who don’t have a kitchen.  Mamas who can’t wash dishes in the sink because there is no running water.  Mamas who may not even have dishes to do because there was no food to cook.  And then I started clearing plates and looking at all the waste the kids had left behind.  My eyes well-up as I think  that the amount of food I scrape into the green bin could be enough to feed a starving child a bigger meal than he’ll get in a week.

How dare I complain or grumble when I tidy up at the end of a busy day?  How dare I.  I am BLESSED.  I have so much more than I’ll ever need.  I can run warm water to wash our dishes.  I have a warm, clean kitchen filled with artwork from our kids, spices, teas, delicious goodies, and happy family memories.  I have electricity.  I have a fridge full of healthy, fresh food I can reach in and give my child when he is hungry.  I have clean drinking water to offer my daughter when she’s thirsty.  I’ve never had to feel my heart break while I watch my children cry in pain because they are starving and their Mama has no food to give them.

This may not sound like the kind of thoughts that would fill me with anything but extreme sorrow.  And I do feel sorrow – I weep for all the families who live in poverty and especially those Mothers who simply cannot provide the basic necessities for their children.  I pray for them.  I pray for our Sponsor children and their families and their communities.

And I thank God that I am so, so blessed.  Joy and thankfulness fill me.  I want this feeling to last.  I want to live in light of all I have, not all I don’t have.  Oh, Lord – help me to remember all the Mamas who have so much less than me, and to never ever take a simple task like ‘doing the dishes’ for granted.  The simple fact that I can and need to do the daily chore of ‘washing up’ makes me deeply and immeasurably blessed in so many ways.

A few months ago, at the age of two, my daughter Audrey was given several Barbies, a Barbie mansion, various Barbie accessories, and questionable outfits.  Although something deep within me didn’t feel right about Barbie, I went along with having the dolls around.  For a while.

When something makes me wince or wonder or question, I am wired to investigate.  Through weeks of reading and research, I uncovered so many of the reasons why my spirit was dampened at the sight of that blond plastic bombshell.

Today, Barbie makes up about 60% of the fashion doll industry, with the newer “Bratz” dolls taking the other 40%.  Bratz, in my opinion, are intrinsically worse than Barbie, but that’s an entire other article.  In short, Bratz are stylized with a much more sexual look and are proud to be outwardly ‘skanky-chic’ (as girls call it).

When asked who they would see as having “the perfect body”, hundreds of thousands of females responded, “Barbie”.  And, these aren’t just little girls.  These are teens, young adults, and middle aged women.

Whether we want to admit it or not, Barbie is a symbol of femininity.  Most girls spend countless hours dressing, undressing, dressing again, doing hair, doting, adorning with accessories, and playing out life-scenarios for and with their Barbie dolls.  So, what’s the big deal?

Some things you may not know about today’s girls:

  • Young girls’ body image and self-esteem are at an all-time, devastating low. We are living in an age where 4-year-olds are worried about looking ‘hot’, 8-year-olds are obsessing about being ‘fat’, and 11-year-olds are performing oral sex on boys in school buses to gain social status among peers.
  • Girls are being targeted by marketers of beauty products and name brand clothing lines at preschool ages.
  • Girls are being HUGELY influenced by negative ‘role models’ like Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus.
  • Eating disorders are on the rise among younger and younger girls
  • Teens are engaging in sex earlier and with less precaution than in past decades
  • More teen girls than ever have anxiety, are depressed, and suicidal.

So, BARBIE CAUSED ALL THIS!  No.  That’s not what I’m saying.  What caused ‘this’ is a myriad of issues, including – destructive media messages (and the media is the TOP influencer of the majority of preteens and teens), broken and disconnected families, young people more reliant on their peers than their parents (and parents who aren’t there), an overwhelming lack of purpose in millions of young people, and the list goes on.

But, let’s not be naive about the role these dolls play in the lives of young girls, because it’s a huge one.

If, during a child’s most formative years, she spends countless hours enthralled with fashion dolls like Barbie and Bratz, she is bombarded with an overwhelming passive-aggressive influencer about what being a beautiful and successful ‘woman’ means.

And, unfortunately, what these multi-billion dollar corporately controlled dollies are preaching is:

  • Beautiful is abnormally SKINNY but oddly CURVACEOUS. The ironic tragedy is, we have millions of girls who view Barbie as having ‘the perfect body’ but her body is completely unattainable. A recent research project done by Rader Programs suggests that if Barbie were a real woman, she would be approximately 6’ tall, 100 lbs, and wear a size 4.  Her measurements would be 39, 19, 33.  Her body fat % would be so low, she would not be able to menstruate and would never have babies with that hunky Ken.  Any girl who actually achieves anything close this “Barbie body” is both a genetic anomaly and often a fabrication of technology.  And so, girls desperately strive to attain the unattainable (enter the marketing of the multi-billion dollar beauty products, dieting, and weight-loss industries). Because the ideal is almost never achieved, girls grow up unhappy with their bodies on a whole, constantly striving to fill the “gap” that their lack of confidence leaves.  This contributes greatly to our society’s materialistic lifestyle(s).
  • Beautiful is WHITE. “But, there are mulit-cultural Barbies and Bratz!” argue many.  Yes, there are.  But visit the Barbie website and every Barbie character (15 I counted when I logged on today) on the home page is white with blond hair.  Although we have come a long way from previous generations on our view of multi-cultural beauty, we are still very trapped by the ‘white girls are prettier’ notion.  Studies have shown that over 75% of lead characters and personalities on TV are white.  White Barbies far overpower Barbies of any other culture in stores and online.  This is damaging for both white girls AND girls of other ethnic backgrounds – one (the white girl) could subconsciously form the view that whites really ARE most desirable, and the other (a young girl of another ethnic background) could grow to view her cultural roots as a barrier to beauty and overall acceptance and success.
  • Beautiful is all about WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE. There isn’t much else to DO with Barbies but dress them up and do their hair.  Then we sit around and shallowly discuss how ‘pretty’ they look.  I remember my daughter looking up at me with all her white skinned, blond Barbies in row, perfectly primped.  “They’re BEEE-eautiful!” she gasped.  I cringed and smiled weakly.  Sure, I remember my Barbies going to the mall or the beach, or for a trip in their awesomely cool red Barbie Ferrari.  But before each outing, they got redressed and restyled and it was always about making sure Barbie looked good.  Barbie is the epitome of Western beauty.  She’s ridiculously skinny and flat-bellied but big-boobed and round-bootied. (Say that 10 times fast!).  She’s tanned and toned.  She’s also got the ‘perfect face’ – high cheekbones, straight white teeth, well-shaped brows, and big, bright eyes that project symmetrical perfection.  Reality is, this is only the picture of beauty because we’re conditioned to believe this way.  Just over 100 years ago, big round cheeks, small eyes, white skin, and lusciously chubby legs and bums with cellulite were signs of rare beauty (I don’t know about you, but I wish those times would make a come back!).  All jokes aside, young girls are being conditioned to view beauty in a certain way, period.  This view of beauty is false, narrow, and can be life-altering and destructive to girls who do not fit the mold or frantically spend their lives trying DESPERATELY to squeeze in.
  • Beautiful is SLUTTY. Barbie ain’t who she used to be.  I have a huge issue with branding children.  Selling and marketing adult-like clothing to kids has slowly become the norm over the past few decades.  Now, it isn’t uncommon to see a girl, age 7 or 8, walk by in a halter top, short-shorts, and platform sandals.  Really!?  I know there are many parents who don’t see a problem with this, but I do.  Our children are losing their innocence WAY too young.  We have 5-year-olds watching videos like “I Can’t Be Tamed” by Miley Cyrus, and third graders idolizing pop-stars like Kesha – raunchy, rude, and promiscuous to scratch the surface.  And they mimic these ‘stars’ by dressing like them.  Barbie is no different.  If she is a permanent fixture in the home and a friend to young girls, they will look at the way she dresses and draw from it.  There are fewer and fewer Barbie outfits that are modest or suitable for young girls.  More often, Barbie wears extremely tight, short, midriff bearing clothes with stilettos or hooker boots.  And then we tell our daughters their Barbie looks “so pretty”.  What are we saying here?  Not exactly the message of modesty I’m hoping to relay to my sweet 3 year old (and beyond).

When I tell people we don’t allow Barbie in our home, they raise one eyebrow and grow this incredibly confused but somewhat mocking look on their face.  (Don’t worry, I’m getting used to that look).  They just can’t wrap their mind around why Barbie is such a big deal to us.  Most people say something like, “Pfft, Barbie is just a doll… besides, I played Barbie – didn’t ruin me!”

My response to comments like these lies somewhere between, “OPEN YOUR EYES!!!” and “Hm, ok.”

We live in a sex-obsessed, materialistic, unhappy, culturally and socially stunted environment.  Families are falling apart all around us.  Girls are living with more challenges than ever before.  I am just a Mom who wants the best for my kids.  I want our daughter to grow up with a sense of self-worth that goes far, far deeper than the surface.  That will come from her foundation in faith, growing up in an unconditionally loving family,  and having a rich life filled with wholesome education, out-ward focused activities, and a sense of belonging and purpose (among other things, I’m sure!).

Will having Barbie as a friend completely ruin her?  Nah, probably not.  But, why give her something we know is potentially destructive and negative and then cross our fingers it doesn’t affect her ‘too much’?  That kind of parenting makes no sense to me.  I’d much rather take a proactive role and stand firm in the truth I know lies behind the multi-billion dollar dolly industry that hopes to passively invade our daughter’s heart and mind.

An interesting story I found while researching:

From AnitaRoddick.com ->

“In 1998, The Body Shop debuted its self-esteem campaign, featuring the generously proportioned doll we dubbed “Ruby.” Her rubenesque figure graced windows in The Body Shop windows in the UK that year, along with our slogan, “There are 3 billion women who don’t look like supermodels and only 8 who do.” She went on to appear in stores in Australia, Asia, and the United States, where she captured the imaginations of consumers weary of the rail-thin heroin-chic of the beauty industry’s advertising messages.

Ruby was a fun idea, but she carried a serious message. She was intended to challenge stereotypes of beauty and counter the pervasive influence of the cosmetics industry, of which we understood we were a part. Perhaps more than we had even hoped, Ruby kick-started a worldwide debate about body image and self-esteem.

But Ruby was not universally loved. In the United States, the toy company Mattel sent us a cease-and-desist order, demanding we pull the images of Ruby from American shop windows. Their reason: Ruby was making Barbie look bad, presumably by mocking the plastic twig-like bestseller (Barbie dolls sell at a rate of two per second; it’s hard to see how our Ruby could have done any meaningful damage.) I was ecstatic that Mattel thought Ruby was insulting to Barbie — the idea of one inanimate piece of molded plastic hurting another’s feelings was absolutely mind-blowing.

Then, in Hong Kong, posters of Ruby were banned on the Mass Transit Railway because authorities said she would offend passengers. (Granted, Ruby often appeared without clothes on, but like Barbie, she had no nipples or pubic hair.) Of course, the much more seriously offensive images of silicone-enhanced blondes in other ads were permitted to stay on the trains.

And there, in a nutshell, is my relationship with the beauty industry. It makes me angry, not only because it is a male-dominated industry built on creating needs that don’t exist, but because it seems to have decided that it needs to make women unhappy about their appearances. It plays on self-doubt and insecurity about image and ageing by projecting impossible ideals of youth and beauty.”

I agree whole-heartedly.

God Bless, all!

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