Saturday, March 31, 2012

Delusions Of A Celebrity Post Pregnancy Body

I have never hid my love of gossip magazines like InTouch, OK, and Star. No, I am not obsessed with celebrities...okay maybe a little bit (lol). But truth be told, my job(s) and all my advocacy work can be quite emotionally taxing. That is why I love to escape into the land of the Coo Coo (a.k.a. Hollywood) while relaxing in a hot bubble bath. In particular, I love looking at the fashion, checking out the latest exercise craze, and frowning at the recent legal hardships of some of the stars that we love to hate.

As I recently perused one of these insightful periodicals;) I noticed a page that talked about how celebrities like Beyonce and Hillary Duff seemingly regained their pre-baby bodies in a matter of an instant. It is absolutely mind boggling to me how one can get flat washboard abs overnight after giving birth! So this has me wondering.....just like our daughters get a false sense of reality when looking at airbrushed models in the magazines....Do moms also get a false sense of what a post pregnancy body should look like when looking at celebrities? I don't know about you, but it took me close to a year to shed all the Wendy's french fries, Spicy Chicken Sandwich, and Ice Cream weight.

I remember jogging around the local neighborhood high school track determined to melt the extra ~g~ that hung tightly to my outer thighs and abdomen. I hired a trainer, ate right, and did jumping jacks for no apparent reason at various times of the day like a mad woman. Yet, still the weight took its sweet 'ole time to melt away much to my chagrin! So how is it possible for a starlet to look camera ready a mere month after labor?

Well, celebrities, unlike you or I, have one major motivation to return to a sexy hourglass silhouette after giving birth....Tabloid magazines. Yup', the very ones that I rejoice in reading in my tub with a glass of red wine. I can't imagine that Mariah Carey or Beyonce want any of us to see a picture of them with a post pregnancy gut in a swimsuit....with saddlebags. Especially not when they've made a career of being seen as sex symbols. Therefore, they devote loads of time, money, and hire a support staff including nannies and trainers to help them maintain their "sexy." After all, their future income depends on it.

So the moral of the story is...while it's fun to take a glimpse into Hollyweird, we normal folks should heed caution when comparing ourselves to those in Tinseltown. Their reality is not ours. We have the joy of simply enjoying our babies after popping them out. We needn't worry about paparazzi hiding in a bush outside of our homes to see if our rumps are still a bit wide. Nope, we can settle into mommyhood in virtual peace. We may not be able to afford to get a tummy tuck or breast lift. But we can thank God for each physical change. Because after all, this process allowed us to produce the most precious gift of all....our babies!




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Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Reality Of Being Black: What Trayvon Taught My Son



I, along with the nation was absolutely disheartened and angered when I learned about Trayvon Martin, and the tragic end to his short and potential filled life. Consumed by the obvious bias involved in this case, I seethed. His story is everywhere. Major news outlets are covering his case, and radio stations (black and white markets) have devoted the drive time discussion to whether justice would be served.

It was a few days ago, as I drove my kids to school, that I glanced in my rearview mirror and noticed my son’s expression as the radio station hosts debated this very heated issue. He was silent, but it was quite evident that he was deep in thought. I chose not to delve into the inevitable conversation at that time. After all, it was 7:00 am. But, I knew that I was going to have to have “the talk” with him sometime later. Never did I think that the “Trayvon talk” would trump the dreaded “sex talk” that all parents should have with their kids.

That afternoon, I made certain to keep the radio off when I picked them up, preferring instead to talk about the events of the day. However, after homework time, I sat him down and asked “Have you heard about the young boy named Trayvon?” He nodded his head. I persisted (with a knot in my throat)…”What have you heard?” I asked. “He was a kid who was walking down the street and a guy shot him.” My son replied. ”Do you know why?” I asked. After several seconds of silence, he answered, “Because he was Black…I think.”

This was not the first time that we have talked about how being black often affects how others perceive us. Both my husband and I have shared our experiences, and we talk frequently about the Civil Rights Movement. In fact, in his short 11 years, my son has experienced acts of discrimination from both adults and children. But this conversation was different. Perhaps it’s because he is more mature and able to think critically (since as he often points out---he’ll be a “Middle Schooler” next year.). Trayvon’s story served as a tragic but teachable example that illustrated how serious and harmful bias and prejudice are in a way that was meaningful to him. For the first time, my son understood. I mean truly understood the impact of race. See…he cannot conceive of what it feels like to be forced to use a “Colored Only” water fountain, or to be made to sit in the back of anything other than his Mommy’s SUV. But, he surely knows what is like to be a young kid walking around in his neighborhood…carrying candy.

So how does a Parenting Expert talk to their child about something like this you might ask? Well, I first have to admit that it was a bit challenging to separate my own emotions from the equation. But I did my best. My first objective was to address any fears that he might have. From the outset, it was clear that his own personal safety was what was prevalently on his mind. In particular, he asked me if someone could kill him too just for walking down the street. (Talk about fighting back tears.) I assured him that he is safe, and that the likelihood that something like this would ever happen to him is slim to none. However, we also tackled the fact that he would surely continue to encounter people who prejudged him simply because of the color of his skin. I also told him what my parents told me 30 + years ago…”Being Black means that you have to be better than expected in order to be graded evenly.” Our hour-long conversation ended with a very tight hug, and an 11-year-old’s understanding that the color of one’s skin does often affect how one is treated and perceived.

We have always taught our children that their caramel skin is beautiful and cause to be proud. Now, because of Trayvon, I am certain that my son fully understands that along with cultural pride, his skin tone can also make him a target. Like I told him…There are people who will hate you just because of the way you look. There are opportunities that you may be denied because of your race. And yes….George Zimmerman may get away with acting in self-defense murdering Trayvon. Though it really broke my heart to have this discussion with my son, it was inevitable because…

This is the reality of being Black….




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