I just finished a road trip with my five children. I know no one asked, but I thought I’d share what we listened to and watched on the ten hour drive home.
Piano Concerto No. 2
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Piano Concertos 1 & 3
3. “The Foundation” by The Zac Brown Band
Because you know I like my chicken fried . . .
4. Soundtrack to West Side Story
Can’t believe I almost forgot this one!
5. The Radio — remember that?
“Momma said, ma ma ma momma said . . . ”
7. Les Choristes — A beautiful French language Film about a music teacher for troubled boys in 1940’s France.
8. Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo — Comedic Japanese (manga) Anime.
(I don’t really understand Bobobo, but there was lots of discussion about nose hair.)
For the most part, each of the choices were approved and enjoyed by all of the tween and teen kids
. . . and myself.
Just Me With . . . an interesting collection . . . of children.
She is thin. I’m no expert, and I’ve never seen her in person, but to me she seems almost dangerously thin. But again, I’m not her doctor. I don’t know. She’s a gorgeous woman, by normal people standards and by Hollywood standards? — she’s still gorgeous, but she’s skinny. No doubt, she’s skinny, even by Hollywood standards.
However, let’s step back a minute and take a quick look of the Psyche of an American woman, a movie star mother, no less.
Angelina is in her thirties and has, what, a gazillion kids? Some adopted but some to which she has given birth. She is in a relationship with a movie star, a sex symbol. She herself is a movie star. She’s got to keep up appearances. Really, it’s part of her job. The camera doesn’t lie, except that it, I’m told, adds ten to fifteen pounds and magnifies every line and wrinkle.
Angelina is a mother and getting older every day in an industry that worships youth and chases perfection. Women naturally gain a few pounds over the years, a medical fact to which I have no citation. Also, pregnancy and childbirth can wreak havoc on the body. I’ve had children. This is something I know about. Some changes are publicly visible, some not. Some changes are temporary, some not. Yet despite these truisms, Hollywood stars are often paid to show the world that having children does not change a body at all. “Here, let me pose in a bikini after having twins.” (Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey). It becomes a race as to how fast a bare midriff can be publicized after childbirth.
But that’s Hollywood, folks. So given these biological strikes (age and childbirth) against women who strive to maintain their high school look, it’s no wonder that it can cause some kind of weight loss hysteria.
And speaking of high school, ladies, think back to your last high school reunion, your Ex’s new woman or your Ex-Best friend. I hate to say it but to many of us, the best revenge against a woman and the sweetest music to our ears is to hear that so and so has “gotten fat.” (Gasp) Or ladies, after your man dumps you for the younger, skinnier version of you, many silently think, “Just wait until she drops a couple of kids and gets fat.” Men do it too, whispering to their slim current girlfriend after seeing an Ex who has put on a few pounds, “Whoa, I dodged that bullet.”
What if you are that girl who stole somebody’s boyfriend or husband, or whose looks are often envied by other women– it may seem that the world wants to bring you down by seeing you “get fat.”
So, what can a woman do? We stay thin if we can, and get even thinner. That way, no matter what, nobody can say we “got fat.”
But does this apply to Angelina Jolie, a freaking beautiful movie star? I say hell yeah. I think she personifies what women go through daily and over the years. We are not supposed to change. We are never supposed to change, except maybe if we lose weight.
Even if you are Angelina Jolie with Brad Pitt on your arm, one might ask? Hell, yeah, I say, Hell yeah.
Angelina has it rough, I say. She’s beautiful — but because of her job, her public persona, she simply can’t “get fat” — and in her industry, “fat” means size 6, or 4. Plus, she’s the girl who got (stole?) Brad Pitt from the beloved ex-wife Jennifer Aniston. Now Angelina has all these kids, she can’t possibly get fat, then she’d no longer be the sexy siren, the other woman. She can’t possibly be the frumpy mom while slim, healthy, and free Jennifer Aniston is out there because in “Girl Wars” this would appear to be a loss. (And I know how ridiculous this may sound, but on some level I believe it happens, ridiculous or not). No, gaining weight is not an option for poor Angelina. She has to be thin. And, I guess, thinner. Unnaturally (for a mother and woman in her mid-thirties) thin. Still, my guess is that she’s naturally slim and smaller proportioned anyway, but society may generate extra pressure to go beyond that.
It’s sad, but sometimes, as a woman, it seems that regardless of our accomplishments, all we can do is “not get fat.” If we got the guy and the kids, remaining thin and/or becoming even thinner becomes the only guns in the arsenal of an adult woman. We can’t control our age, once married we can’t collect men, and once we become mothers so many other things get out of our control — but we can control our weight, or at least try to. And people make millions off of our desire to do so.
So if I could peak inside Angelina Jolie’s mind, I could hear her saying:
Yes I’m still the same size.
Yes, I have many children but I’m still thin. I’m still cool. I’m still sexy. I can still play a non-maternal female protagonist.
I ain’t mad at her. To quote Chris Rock, “I’m not gonna say it’s right, but I understand.” Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman. (Insert country twang here.) I just hope Angelina is healthy, appearances aside. I also hope that girls and women don’t starve themselves to be as thin as Angelina Jolie. I also hope that, as a whole, we can learn to accept that keeping or gaining a few pounds over the years is not evidence of failure in life, or conversely, that being as thin as possible is not proof of success.
And I just want to tell Miss Jolie — woman to woman,
“Psst, if you become too thin, it will make you look older, Angelina, and it can cause osteoporosis. Just remember that and take your Vitamin C. Your acting, producing and directing chops will be wasted if you waste away to nothing. And if you become a hunch-back old lady before your time, the plum roles will pass you by anyway. Have some broccoli.”
Just Me With . . . my right leg and my two cents, though nobody asked.
I am not a Beyoncé/Destiny’s Child historian by any means. But there are some things about Beyoncé’s personal and professional life that I truly admire. Because of this, I tend to place her in a different category than other celebrity wedding and baby news.
Beyoncé has been performing since she was a teenager, until recently managed by her father. It was the family business. And it did quite well. A few years ago, she married a hip-hop mogul Jay-Z, a wildly successful musician, performer, producer and business man. A couple seemingly made for the tabloids, yet they married not in the Kardashian circus manner, but privately. The public was not given daily updates on gowns, expenditures, wedding or reception plans. She got married, is all. And though the couple collaborates from time to time, her celebrity is based on her work, not on her family or her husband’s name. And Jay – Z’s past or continued success does not rely on hers.
Once married, Beyoncé rarely spoke of her wedding, or the details of her marriage. Sometimes she’d appear with her husband, sometimes not. But make no mistake, they have been and are a power couple. He continued working, she continued working their sometimes separate, sometimes combined hit-making machine. Being a wife did not consume nor define her public persona. Though married, she was still Beyoncé. And there were no Kardashian announcements after the wedding, “Now I’m ready for babies.” There were often rumors of babies on the way for Beyoncé and Jay-Z, but not from Beyoncé herself. No, there was no announcement of babies, until there was a baby to announce. I like that.
Then it came, the announcement of a baby. After having been married for years, and on the eve of her 30th birthday, Beyoncé proudly revealed her pregnancy at a major awards show. Yeah, she got major press out of it and that can’t hurt, but because we hadn’t heard of all the baby making efforts and plans, it didn’t seem like the baby was a publicity stunt. I like that, too.
But what does this mean?
Why should it mean anything? It means the same thing it means for all of us, she’s pregnant and God-willing, she’ll have a healthy baby. Duh.
Oh there are the practical considerations. Beyoncé fans and commentators wonder whether she’ll take a year off from her yearly touring schedule. If she does, she deserves the break, if you’ve ever seen one of her concerts or concert DVD’s you know she is one of the hardest working stage performers out there. But if she does take a break, she’ll be okay. (Her fans might die, but she’ll be okay). She maintains at least partial songwriting credits on her hits, so she will continue to receive passive income from commercial use of her material. This means that whether it’s a high school marching band playing Survivor, background music in a television show or movie, or some American Idol hopeful covering Irreplaceable, she’ll get paid — forever. All this in addition to all of the products to which she’s lent her name and likeness, well . . . she’ll be okay. Go ahead and take some time off girl, if you want. In other words, her income is not solely based on the next hit record, her next big tour, or most importantly, the size of her waist. If she doesn’t take a break and launches a tour next year, she’ll have the means to have any type of support she wants, including the kind which will allow her to work and still be with her child. But either way, I doubt we’ll be inundated with daily reports of morning sickness, stories of childbirth, recounts of her weight gain and loss, or the dreaded reality TV show. Her Momma taught her better than that. (Get the Survivor reference? No? Yes?) Oh, and no offense, Tia and Tamera, a cute show, but kinda hard to take you all seriously as Independent Women after that.
Regardless of whether you are a fan of her music, the way Beyoncé has handled her personal life is something to admire — and to teach our daughters and sons. A wedding is for the bride, groom, family and friends to celebrate in a large or small way. But the wedding itself, even a huge wedding, does not have to be an accomplishment to be paraded in the news. Likewise, bringing a child into the world is an important, private, natural decision. Thank you, Beyoncé, for not announcing every fertility attempt and for not acquiring babies seemingly for use as accessories to keep your name in the news. And I know this is old-fashioned, but thank you Beyoncé, for getting married in the first place. If we want our daughters to expect a man “to put a ring on it” before they give him a child and expect his support, well, they should look to Beyoncé. Yeah, she’s half-naked most of the time, but she’s got the pipes to back it up and the business sense to carry her through, plus she’s got a husband to share in bringing a child into this scary world. Plus, she’s pulled off independent success despite being the wife of a mogul in the male dominated hip-hop world, and because of that I have every reason to believe she will pull off her continued success all while making her pregnancy and motherhood a natural course of life, not a sideshow act, not a publicity stunt, not a death knell to her career or to her public appeal.
Just Me With . . . hopes of getting invited to the baby shower, and I’m available to babysit . . . or play in your band or whatever you need Beyoncé . . . ha!