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You Are Beautiful

seventeen.twiggyWhen I was younger, I never felt good about how I looked. I was too skinny, not pretty enough, not graceful enough, just not enough. Looking at the models in Seventeen Magazine made things even worse. I was 5 foot 7 inches, and in my last year of high school, I went from 115 pounds, to 118 pounds. That sent me into a total panic, so I decided I had to take drastic measures. I started skipping lunch at school, instead eating only a box of raisins in a desperate attempt to stop the normal curves of approaching womanhood from overtaking me.

 

In retrospect, for a girl with self-confidence issues, moving to California – specifically Los Angeles – was probably not the best move to boost my self-esteem. Particularly, working in the entertainment industry where every female looked like she had come out of the live-edition Barbie factory. The message that was reinforced again and barbieagain, both at work and in the dating world was, appearances matter. Youth, beauty and near-starvation were the values that ruled – and (lots of) money was the only thing that might help alleviate the lack of any of the first three values.

 

 

From a young age, girls are praised for being pretty. As we get a little older, we’re praised for being beautiful. Or thin. Or both. Brains and talent often take a back seat, or are mentioned almost as a consolation prize.

 

Two things I saw today brought all of this home to me once again. The first was a photo of Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford. You might be aware that Ms. Fisher has been relentlessly derided by many online users for having had the temerity to actually age. She has ably shut down the haters, but it’s still disgusting that she has to put up with this kind of garbage. So the words that go along with this photo (from Being Liberal) are: Men don’t age better than women – they are just allowed to age. Exactly. star.wars.awakens

 

The second thing I saw was a post about a young actress named Ashley Benson who was told she was told she was too fat to get a role. Ms. Benson is a size 2. Wrap your head around that. A size 2 is considered too fat. Will Hollywood only be happy when they cast skeletons in their films? And young girls see this. Or they see completely unrealistic, air-brushed images of other young women, thinking this kind of perfection is the only way they will be accepted – and acceptable.

dove-campaingThere are people fighting against this, most notably the Dove campaign for real beauty, attempting to widen the definition of beauty.  According to one of their studies, only 2% of women around the world would describe themselves as beautiful. How sad is that?

 

As we age, women become invisible as far as our society is concerned. But in spite of that, we’re still expected to be stylish, wrinkle-free, and as always, thin, or we’re discarded like yesterday’s trash.

We’ve made some strides over the years, but just like the lack of income equity, there is no such thing as age equity when it comes to gender. Or body image equity. Since Hollywood – which is where so much of our societal expectations come from – is still mostly ruled by testosterone, I guess this should come as no big surprise. But maybe we can work on the vocabulary of gender. I’m not saying it’s wrong to tell a girl she’s pretty, just as I believe it’s OK to tell a boy he’s handsome. But let’s not stop there. Let’s make sure our children see the beauty in what’s inside a person. And that different sizes, shapes, colors, and abilities reflect diversity, which is a good thing. A beautiful thing. How poor this world would be if we were all the same. Let them celebrate the fact that everyone is unique. And that no matter what society says, they should love themselves. Which is something we all need to remember, no matter how old we are.

valentine_heart

 

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

 

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Look At Me!

smartphone

 

 

There’s a social media post going around that basically asks, “Aren’t you glad that you got all your youthful indiscretions over before the advent of cell phones and everything you do being posted online?” And everyone over the age of 30 shouts, “Yes, yes, and yes!”

 

 

 

Can you imagine what it’s like to have every moment of your life out there for the babyworld to see? In the beginning, it’s the parents posting baby pictures, birthdays, first day of school, and soccer games. But once that first cell phone falls into those hot, little preteen hands, watch out, world.

 

 

globe.2Every thought, every spat, every crush is now in the public domain. These kids have no filters, no sense of privacy at all. They put their bodies out there for public display, and their dislike of teachers, their parents, their bosses are all considered fair game. There’s no sense of the future or any kind of consequences for sharing their soul with a world that gobbles this stuff up, and then ruthlessly spits these kids out.

 

 

There have been studies that conclude that the brain doesn’t fully mature until the pinky.swearage of 25. Or older. So back in high school, you might have done a few things that you kept from your parents. Just saying. And kept these indiscretions from everyone else except for your very best friends in the world.Who were sworn to secrecy on pain of a terrible, horrible death. You might have done stupid things, but they remained your deep, dark secrets. On the whole, you transitioned into adulthood with the follies of your youth largely safely behind you.

 

loveYou might have had serious high school crushes. Again, shared only with your BFFs. And certainly not with the object of your desire. In fact, it was beyond horrifying to think anyone would know about the guy who you spent every moment of your day longing for. How embarrassing to let the world in on your private thoughts!

 

Fast forward to today’s kids. How horrifying it would be for them if no one cared Monkey takes selfieabout those once-private, personal longings. Now, every minute of their lives must be shared with the world in order to validate their existence. A perfect example is the constant taking of selfies. Does anyone else feel that this is the new form of falling in love with yourself by staring into your reflection in the water?

 

 

 

proposalSome of this online sharing is fun, and not only for kids. Posting your own parodies of popular songs has become a thing. Or cute things babies or animals do. I am getting a bit concerned about the new wave of marriage proposals, however. What was once a sweet and private moment has now become a case of one-upmanship, with videos, crowds, singing and dancing as part of the package. As if there wasn’t enough pressure on the poor guy when he pops the question! It’s now got to be worthy of a Broadway production, or he’ll be considered a failure.

 

There is no assumption of the right to privacy anymore. Kids eagerly share their lives with not only their friends, but perfect strangers. The more the merrier. And then the day comes that they want to go to college. Or apply for a job. And they have no idea why they’re turned down. Posting pictures of every meal you’ve ever eaten is one thing. And seriously, how many meals have you eaten that are actually worthy of that kind of publicity? But putting thoughts or pictures out there that never go away, that can adversely affect your future, is not innocent fun. This generation has never really known the concept of anonymity. But the Internet is forever. Nothing really goes away. And it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. Or take a picture of it.

coffee

 

 

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

 

Happy New Year 2017

valentines.saleNo, that’s not a typo. Ads for Christmas started before Halloween this year. In the frenzy for sales numbers, Thanksgiving was barely an afterthought as stores insisted on opening by Thanksgiving afternoon. Last week, I guess retailers felt they had saturated the print and visual media long enough regarding Christmas, so I actually saw ads for Valentine’s Day! Yesterday, the day before Christmas, they started inundating us with the post-Christmas sales. I guess the message is now that you’ve spent months shopping for those perfect gifts for everyone you know, forget the actual holiday and let’s get on with the shopping.

 

 

There are end-of-summer sales 4th of July weekend. On the one hand, I’m not Fireworks_diego_bay_on_the_fourth_of_julycomplaining about that – this means I can still get clothes I might actually want to wear during the summer before summer is even halfway over, at drastically reduced prices. On the other hand, this push to keep us buying further and further into the future is, in my humble opinion, the reason so many of us feel that our lives are just racing by.

 

 

 

 

clock.warped

 

 

When you can’t just be in the moment, when you’re constantly urged to start planning for events that are still months away, there is no longer a present (pun intended). Life just gets pushed further and further along at breakneck speed. To where?

 

 

 

 

When I was a kid (yes, once again, back in prehistoric times), time seemed to move grassat the pace of grass growing. I don’t remember ever thinking that something enjoyable had raced by in the blink of an eye. But when I talk to children these days, I often hear them say how quickly the year has gone, or express similar thoughts. What are we doing to our kids, let alone, ourselves when  all we do is tell them that now doesn’t matter?

 

rocket

Life goes by way too fast, without us ramping up to warp speed. At this pace, if we keep pushing our rampant commercialism to the next level, we might have end-of-summer sales before the season starts. And eventually, the further we push things ahead, we’ll meet at the actual time that would be appropriate for a particular holiday or season. At the rate things are going, I’m giving it two years for everything to sort itself out and catch up to itself.

 

Meanwhile, I hope you had a very happy holiday season, and I’d like to wish you all a very Happy 2017.

 

happy new year 2015 sms in English

 

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

Boo Hoo

teen.momI don’t watch reality shows unless they involve contestants who are singing, dancing, or cooking. Or possibly losing weight or designing something. The shows I avoid like the plague are the shows that cater to the lowest common denominator and our basest instincts. We’re talking shows such as Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Jersey Shore, The Real Housewives of (pick your city), Duck Dynasty, and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Add to that list the show about dating while naked. And the one about teen mothers. The list goes on and on.

Since I have never watched any of the aforementioned shows, I can’t talk in great detail about their Titanic_struck_icebergcontent. I can only generalize, based on things I have read about them. But I don’t think I’m too far off the mark in saying that most of them are the equivalent of waiting for the Titanic to hit the iceberg.

The people on these shows are chosen because they can put on a show. Not, like a classy Broadway show. More like the battles in the Roman Colosseum. The people on these shows are willing to get drunk. They’re willing to curse and start fights on camera. They’re willing to show the world things about themselves that most people don’t want their closest friends to know about them.

angerSo, is anyone really surprised when these “reality stars” implode? Do we really need to sit and wonder how this could happen? Are these people anyone’s role models? Our society as a whole has gotten baser and crasser as limits, privacy, and good taste disappear. The Internet, hundreds of TV stations willing to buy any kind of programming, cell phones, and parents who find their control and influence eroding when faced with all these challenges are the parts that add up to the whole problem. And I have no idea what the solution is, except to stop watching these train wrecks.

The latest, and in my mind, most disgusting implosion is the end of Honey Boo Boo. Not the little girl, honey.boobut the whole circus surrounding her. The fact that her mother has decided it’s OK to date a convicted child molester is horrifying. To then read that this woman’s oldest daughter had been molested by this man when she was a child makes me want to throw up. And the oldest daughter says she “would feel hurt” if her mom was dating this vermin again? She goes on to add “I would not feel betrayed, but I would feel hurt.” She should feel betrayed! She should also feel furious and angry and horrified. What kind of mother would even consider dating the man who harmed her child, instead of wanting to rip his heart out? And these are just two of the people who make Heaven knows how many thousands upon thousands of dollars while appearing these shows.

starI’m sorry, but maybe people who teach, or save others, or rescue animals, don’t make disgusting spectacles of themselves, and therefore don’t merit the large viewership of these shows, because no one is throwing raw meat to the lions. But surely, they deserve the recognition and monetary rewards that the saddest examples of humanity have showered upon them them for debasing themselves – and in the process those of us who watch this drek – in their desperate pursuit of celebrity.

 

 

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

 

Welcome to the 50s

Numbers-Birthday-Cakes-50I did not sign up for this. Or, at least I think I didn’t sign up for this. Considering the state of my memory these days, I really can’t swear to anything I may or may not have done. But I’m talking about life as a person well into her 50s. Not that I was delusional about what life would be like passing the mid-century mark. I knew that most likely my eyesight would go from perfect to near-perfect. That I might gain a pound or two. And that I might have to rely on color in a bottle when it comes to keeping a few stray grey hairs out of my hairline. When I hit the dreaded 5-0, I think I was more upset about having to admit that I could possibly be that age, than what was actually about to happen to me in every aspect of my life.

The eyesight actually started fading away in my late 40s. Considering I had always had perfect eyeglassesvision, I stayed in denial for as long was humanly possible. I was slightly far-sighted to start with. Soon, there was no chance of holding reading matter far enough away from my face to actually make out the letters. Although, I can read street signs in the next city – it’s kind of my hidden superhero talent. These days, denial resides in what strength reading glasses I buy. When it finally becomes obvious that I don’t even realize there are words on a page, I finally cave and go up to the next level. Although I continue to hold onto the weaker glasses, in the hope that, at some point, things will magically shift into reverse and I’ll actually be able to see again.

Laundry_symbols_with_japaneseBut the world conspires against me as well. Lately, in the form of trying to read laundry labels. There are the clothing manufacturers that must have people of a certain age working there, since they have crisp black labels with glaring white print in a readable font that anyone should be able to decipher. But lately, there are the clothing companies that I can only presume to be run by sadists in their 20s with perfect vision. The color of the label is a very pale grey – very classy. The print – for I presume there is print – is the softest wisp of white – in a size which surely must be microscopic, and a font with so many loops and so little substance that they might as well have not included a label at all. So after I attempt for at least five minutes to catch a hint of a word that might be helpful, such as hang, line, warm, will disintegrate… I do what I always do and fling that garment into the washer on a delicate cycle and, if there’s room left on the clothing rack, I lay it there once it’s clean. If not, into the dryer it goes, on a wing and a prayer. Surprisingly, most of my clothes actually survive this process.

I know I’ve discussed the morphing of my body into the Pillsbury Dough Boy numerous times, butmirror I still can’t stop shrieking every time I look in the mirror. I am not this person. At least, I was not this person until a little over 10 years ago. That was the first surgery that started the ball rolling. But it still wasn’t horrifying. There was still hope. Then, 5 years ago came the next surgery. The one that spun me out of my comfortable little bubble of denial into hell. Men, you can stop reading here, because we all know that all you have to do is close your eyes and say, “I wish to lose 10 pounds – in my stomach.” And, when you wake up in the morning, poof! Your body is exactly as you wished. This, menstruation, childbirth, and menopause are all the proof I need that G-d is a man.

chemistry.flask

 

I’ve been somewhat luckier with the hair. The miracle of chemistry has made it possible for me to continue to have some semblance of my actual hair color with just a mere shampoo and a quarter-sized dollop of something resembling shoe polish. So no matter how old I actually get, my hair promises not to give me away. This is the only time in my life I have truly believed in better living through chemistry.

 

Aches, pains, and invisibility have all arrived full force in this decade of my life. The latest indignity is grasping scissorsfrantically through the caverns of my mind to find words that have begun to elude me. I can be about to ask my children to hand me the scissors, and the best I can come up with is to ask for “those things that you cut with.” After my children are done rolling on the floor, laughing at me, I am grateful that I still remember the function of said scissors and the fact that someone actually handed them to me.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am also grateful to find myself mobile and intact and still here each morning when I open my eyes to the possibilities of the day ahead of me. And so, in spite of wondering how my life’s journey has brought me to this age in what seems like nanoseconds sometimes, I make sure I thank G-d (male or female) for giving me one more day. Whether I can see it or not.

 

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

Should I Spell It Out for You?

laptop.2Anyone who knows me knows that there is one thing that is guaranteed to make me crazy. (OK, there are lots of things, but this issue, in particular, is sure to get an immediate hair-tearing response.) That would be spelling/grammatical errors, whether on TV, in emails from magazines, newspapers, etc., or online posts from large media outlets. In this day and age of people assuming (you all do know what happens when you ASS U ME, I hope) that all they need is some form of Spell Check to make everything right, let me assure you that proofreaders/copy editors should not be optional employees.

The moment I see a post with the wrong word or a misspelling used in the header, I immediately newspaper3disregard that post and go on to the next one – unless, of course, it’s really juicy. When I read a newspaper (yes, I still do read the paper on occasion), and find multiple spelling errors throughout that paper, I groan and find it difficult to concentrate on what I’m reading. Once again, I’m talking about professional posts that are going out to thousands of people, being written by (presumably) paid employees of that business. Yes, errors by individuals sending private emails or posting something online also bug me, but I can let those go because they are not being paid to get information out to the public. I just grind my teeth and force myself to let it go. Let it go…

dinosaurAnyway, I don’t know if it’s a sign of the times that in this day and age of instant information, fewer and fewer people find it necessary to take the time to make sure that what they’re putting out there is error-free. No one seems to care anymore. I don’t think that this is necessarily a generational issue either. I know plenty of people who are not dinosaurs who are deeply irked when they see this kind of sloppy writing.

 

So, for your amusement and possible enlightenment, here are some recent examples of emails and posts I’ve seen that have caused the aforementioned hair-tearing. I didn’t note all of the sources,  but believe me, they are all real.

bulldog-puppy-catching-a-ball-coloring-page-300x376

 

1. WARNING: These rescue dog transformations are going to make you ball your eyes out!

My question: Is someone going to be flinging balls at our eyes?

 

 

 

2. Exiting Offers for the Weekend – 40% Off

Presumably, these offers are already out the door, so don’t bother going.

 

3. The Washington Post Wednesday, March 12, 2014 2:00:23 PM  arizona.map
News Alert
Controversial Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer won’d seek third term

Come on, Washington Post, really? Not one second to check your header before you send a mass e-mail out?

 

4. Is Your Conscious Clear?

Uh, I think so?

 

5. And now, a few choice from Cameron Diaz words on Gwyneth’s divorce

Not that I really care about anyone’s conscious uncoupling, but I have two issues with this header. The first, more obvious issue is that the sentence is complete gibberish. The second, is that the reader might assume (!) that Cameron Diaz is going to say something snarky about Gwynnie by the way the sentence is almost worded, but in fact, she defends her in the paragraph that I had no interest in reading.

 

6. From Entertainment Tonight:
tv.set

Meanwhile, Jay Leno, 63, announced his last guests before he turns over The Tonight Show. On Feb. 3, his predecessor Fallon will appear on the show, but on his final night, Feb. 6, Billy Crystal, who was Leno’s first guest in May 1992 when he succeeded Johnny Carson, will appear on the program along with country singer Garth Brooks, The Associated Press reports.

Did I miss something in 1992?

 

So yes, we laugh, but it’s also kind of sad that the rush to inform trumps accuracy and pride in the finished product. Good writing should not be optional when something is going out to the world. That being said, I feel compelled to reveal that I do have one particular word that I believe should have its spelling changed as soon as possible. If there is some committee to contact for this issue, please let me know.

My  nominee is the word judgment. Seriously, what the heck happened to the ‘e’ there? When I was in college, I had to write a paper about the Social Judgment Theory. Up until that assignment, I had never paid attention to the word judgment and its lack of an ‘e’ where one would assume (!) an ‘e’ would be. So when I was busily researching this theory in the university library, imagine my shock when every book I picked up was missing that crucial ‘e.’ The spelling of this word makes no sense at all. And yes, there are many other words in the English language that have spellings that are absurd, but this one has irked me throughout the years. Way past the time that I can remember anything about the Social Judgment Theory, the only thing that remains is my deep belief that the so-called correct spelling of the word judgment is just plain wrong.

quill__scroll_2_rhyvvHow did this happen? You have the word judge. Why would you drop the ‘e’ at the end?I have a theory. I can picture the first dictionary scribe painstakingly writing out the words in the very first dictionary. He gets to the word judgment, which he knows should have been spelled judgement. He carefully writes the first few letters: j…u…d…g… He is about to put the ‘e’ in and accidentally knocks over his drinking vessel filled with grog. He quickly swipes away the liquid so it doesn’t smear all of his hard work  away. He sighs with relief, and in his agitated state, he continues writing: m…e…n…t.  No one notices at first, and several months go by until one day, the Master of the Dictionary happens upon the word by chance. He calls the dictionary scribe in for interrogation.

“Can you explain why in the world you would have written the word ‘judgment’ without the first ‘e’ since there is no proper way to pronounce it the way it is written?” the dictionary master demands.

The dictionary scribe quakes in his boots. He frantically searches his mind for a response that won’t result in his hanging. “Well, my lord, it seemed perfectly sensible at the time,” the scribe offers. “After all, think of all the ink it has saved not only now, but in all future dictionaries, to have one less ‘e’ in the word.”

The dictionary master, being a man who is always looking to pinch a penny, agrees that this is most sensible. And there you go.

I happen to be tired of spelling a word based on a spilled cup of grog. And, when I do see this wordLatin_dictionary misspelled approximately 90% of the time, I nod in agreement and solidarity. So if anyone is aware of the committee to change the spelling of inanely spelled words, please advise. But meanwhile, I beg you, check your spelling twice, write it once. Thank you for your understanding. And the hairs on my head thank you, too.

 

 

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

Plays Well With Others?

Once upon a time, if you had a government job, you had a job for life. You had job security, decent benefits, and you were paid pretty well. It seems like a fantasy now in light of the past few years of brinksmanship, doesn’t it?

No matter what party you root for these days, you are most likely horrified and frustrated by the infantile behavior exhibited by our so-called representatives. Who can piss farther or longer?  And who can sling more mud, more blame, more ridiculous charges at their opponents? Most people have been likening this behavior to preschool behavior, and I agree – with one caveat: In preschool, teachers focus on cooperation and compromise, teaching their little charges that they need to get along with each other, building the foundation for future interactions in society. Where did those lessons go for our current Congress?

children.playing.coloring.pageWhat are some of the checkpoints on a preschooler or kindergartener’s socialization plan?

– plays well with others

– shares with others

– works well with others

– helps others

– participates well in group activities

– cooperates with others

These principles are sadly lacking in those who are supposed to representing the rest of us. Maybe we should get a group of  4- and 5-year-olds to demonstrate the way things should be done.  Such as caring about the good of the country, rather than their own self-interests. Not seeing the other political party as the enemy. Working together for the common good and realizing how much they are hurting innocent people in their haste to get re-elected. And staying away from eating paste.

I’ve been so distraught by this situation, I wrote an email to my Congressman yesterday. Here is the gist of it:

I believe that you believe that you are a good man. While I disagree with the ____ Party and many of the beliefs of the ___ Party, I believe you are trying to be an honorable person. And I hope you realize you represent all the people of your district, not just those who are in the ____ Party. So I am going to plead with you to get past the politics and the rhetoric the posturing that’s going on right now and think about the people who are being terribly affected by this shutdown. There is terrible harm being done to real people by the stance of you and pretty much everyone in Congress at the moment. No one is willing to compromise, you’re all just worried about being re-elected and not the fact that people will have no money to buy food, pay their bills, get care for their children if they’re not getting a paycheck. It’s terrifying, Congressman____, to face the prospect of no paycheck for even a day, let alone long-term. I’m not even mentioning all the other programs that are being shut down, affecting so many thousands. You and your fellow Congressmen need to put yourselves in the shoes of the government workers who work so hard for our country and are getting repaid for their loyalty and hard work by an absolute lack of compassion and caring by the people who are supposed to be representing them. Please put aside your egos and work together so we won’t have to face the prospect of losing homes, and all the ensuing catastrophic events that are sure to occur the longer this shutdown goes on. Thank you for your time.

As I sent off my email with hopes of getting some kind of response at some point, a message popped up on my screen. I’m paraphrasing, but it read something like this:

Due to the current government shutdown and furloughs, our staff is unavailable to respond to your message. Once the shutdown is over, we will respond to your concerns as soon as possible.

And there you go.

 

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved