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January 21, 2011


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Good GOD!! Where did you get this garbage?!

I only made it through a minute-and-a-half before I had to shut her off!!

I thought the Friday videos were called "Happy Hour"?! This was more like: "Whiny/Angry/Self-indulgent/depressing" hour.

Seriously, honey, take a breath! Sorry you had a mental-case for a mother, but, really, there's therapists for that. Please don't take it out on the rest of us!


I do love an opinion clearly expressed. And I can see this performance through your eyes and see how you would turn it off. However, your theory--that pain is to be shared in privacy and not with "the rest of us"--is perhaps an unintentionally glib dismissal of the whole history of art.

I'll admit that I don't know the source or audience for this video. However, I am a strong believer in finding a way to move forward and past your pain and I really didn't see any of that in this video. To me it was strictly whining, and "whoa is me", "feel sorry for me", "look how ill-used I was". This struck me as simply wallowing in the pain and using it as an excuse to not live your life.

You can call me callous if you like. I'd be fine with that, as everyone's entitled to their opinions, but when I compare people like, say, Nelson Mandela, or Martin Luther King, to this woman, and see how they managed to move past their pain with grace and positive choices for themselves and others, I find it difficult to work up much sympathy for this woman having to wear braces and use skin creams. Sorry.

You have a point. Not when you say that pain has to be on the order of Nelson Mandela in order to be worthy of artistic expression. That, of course, is utterly absurd.

But yes, this isn't really a "happy hour" video.

Rather than refund your money, I'd like to give you a store credit, for another video I hope you'll like better.

And I can assure you, the directionally challenged monkey you are about to see doesn't blame his parents for his own poor choices.


Friday Downer Video?
Friday Angry Video?
Surely there's a better name.

We can agree to disagree [god knows it wouldn't be the first time, and I'm sure it won't be the last!] on the definition of "art".

But I LOVED the baby monkey!!!! I laughed until I choked, as much for the song as for the video. I'm all over the store credit! Friday Happy Hour video has been restored.

Have a great weekend, David.

Thanks, David. This made me happy and I'm going to share it on my facebook page right now.

David, please tell me this video didn't just enlighten you to the idea that our vain society has a twisted obsession with idealised beauty that is imposed on young women (and men) from an early age. Surely this is not a revelation.
If we're going to ditch "pretty" don't we also need to dispense with the word "beauty" as well, David? And lovely. And while we're at it, the words on the opposite side of the spectrum - like ugly, awkward, plain...
If we want to resolve the valid and profound issue this woman so passionately rants about, then it's going to require more than just vocabulary. It's not the word that's the problem. It's how and why we use it. If we just stop using adjectives to describe our physical appearance, that's not really going to change a thing.
And as for the art of expressing our childhood pain and mother/father issues, well, I thought that was what all of our blogs were for.
Happy Friday :)

Is this fearsome feminist one of Scout's aunties?

Steve C.

I got a daughter who's seven and who worries too goddamn much about her appearance. Or at least she worries enough, and I don't want her to worry any more.

Like Katie Makkai, I'm interested in impressing upon her that it's better to be beautiful than cute and pretty, just as it's better to be funny than clever, brilliant than witty.

Everybody thought Walt Whitman was crazy when he predicted the coming of a race of "fierce and athletic girls" who are "not one jot less than I am,/They are tann'd in the face by shining suns and blowing winds,/Their flesh has the old divine suppleness and strength,/They know how to swim, row, ride, wrestle, shoot, run, strike, retreat, advance, resist, defend themselves,/They are ultimate in their own right—they are calm, clear, well-posses'd of themselves."

That's all I'm going for. No biggie.

Happy Friday.

All of her aunties--but one, Mister.

Aunt Piper don't do cute.

Saw this a few months ago for the first time, and found it profound, powerful and a reason to stop and think (as I do every single day) about what I convey to my daughter, and my son for that matter.

When my goddaughter (the first babe among my closest friends) was young, her mother (my childhood best friend) took a stand, and all of that little girl's aunties were never allowed to *only* comment on her looks. "She's so darn CUTE!" had to be followed by "...and funny, and articulate, and compassionate, and strong..." etc. The whole thing evolved over the years, and - albeit just a little tongue in cheek - that's the only way we ever speak about each others' children now.

My goddaughter is now 14, and stunningly beautiful to many eyes, but she will change the world not with that beauty, but with the other... I hope the same for my children.

Can I get a hell yeah?

This video is not just one woman’s pity party. Kristen Ridley maybe you should watch the whole thing. I’ve seen this video before, and now watching it again I have tears running down my face, once again. The tears aren’t because of sadness, or thinking of all the times I felt insecure with my prettiness, or any sort of “woe is me” time in my life.

The tears came at the end, when she was talking about being more than a pretty face and how she will carry that forward to her daughter. The power with which she expressed it was amazing and reached me to my soul.

This IS a happy hour video, Dave. This performance IS on par with Mandela or King. Weren’t they also talking about being free of oppression, and being equal with all other people? That is what I took from this piece, and it should be celebrated tonight, this weekend, and every day thereafter.

Boom goes the dynamite!

You know, that broad ain't too bad lookin', if she would just use a little makeup and fix up her hair a little . . . she might even be able to her herself a decent man!

As Matt would say, OH BOY!!!!!!

K Bosch - I respect your reaction to this video and your opinion about the subject matter.

That said, there's an extremely key difference - for me - between this woman's situation and King or Mandela - her "oppression" didn't, and doesn't involve being jailed, or subjected to beatings or physical torture or firehoses, and to suggest that their battles are equal to dealing with someone else's opinion about whether you are pretty in our free and modern society does a gross disservice to those earlier battles. On no level are the two even close to equal in my opinion.

I won't for a moment suggest that our society's fascination with the definition of beauty isn't harmful to the self-images of some.

But I continue to believe that each of us can make choices that allow us to rise above the foolish opinions of our society and that it is making those choices and taking the related actions that will change those foolish things. Today's woman [and frankly the women of the past three decades at minimum] can choose to ignore the societal focus on whatever the current definition of "beauty" is.

We've all heard and discussed the "show, don't tell" approach to making a genuine impact. While, again, I respect that this video may have made an impact for you, it didn't for me. I'm far more impacted and affected by Jennifer's approach, which takes specific action to refute and change society's wrong-headed focus on physical attractiveness as the definition of a woman's value as opposed to just telling us how oppressed you are, which was my reaction to this video.

I thought her use of body language was more than cute.

If you think that women in our history have never been jailed or abused for fighting for their rights, then maybe you should read some different history books. While Makkai herself may not have experienced oppression to the extreme as Mandela or King, or Alice Paul, or Rosa Parks, she is standing on that stage representing those that did. Her message is not just about a “foolish opinion of our society” – it is much bigger than that.

I agree with you that it takes action to create change and in this piece, Makkai is doing just that. Her form of art IS showing, in addition to telling.

Each time I have watched the video I have thought about my 7 year old niece who DOES obsess about being pretty, and who does think that Barbie is “perfect,” and who does want to trade in her muscular soccer legs for that other girl’s skinny ones. This, despite having many relatives who, just like Jennifer, tell her how intelligent and strong and compassionate she is. How did this happen?! SHE’S 7 FUCKING YEARS OLD!

This is not a simple issue. Stories need to be told and women need to celebrate and support each other, not tell them to go get therapy.

K Bosch:

While you make certain valid points about the shallowness of our society, to compare this whiny, self-pitying American teenager to Nelson Mandela is like comparing that fat director who got kicked off the Southwest Airlines plane for being fat to Rosa Parks.

You lose all credibility when you make comparisons like that.

Steve C.

We agree that this is not a simple issue, we just don't agree on what will actually help to change it.

And I'm also going to suggest that your statement: ". . . women need to celebrate and support each other . . " appears to only apply to women who agree with you.

You don't know me, or what books I may have read, so for you to suggest that I don't understand this issue simply because I don't agree with YOUR perspective on it, is not only disrespectful, it's a little self-righteous and, frankly, wrong.

I don't want anyone reading this to misunderstand and think I'm offended, because I'm not. I truly do believe that everyone's entitled to their own opinion and I'm comfortable with mine, but to arbitrarily decree that anyone who disagrees with you is just wrong, is precisely what all the people we've been talking about have tried to fight against.

It's clear that you feel passionately about this topic and I respect that. At the same time, I think it's a shame that you seem unable to discuss it with someone who feels differently without accusing and belittling the other person's opinion.

I found the video thought-provoking, real, humorous. A good reminder of why I made decisions to parent the way I did, and of how often I failed, and no matter the failures, how glad I am to have tried so hard. Thank you, David. Scout has a good dad.

I have a question for K Bosch and Jennifer and Joan and anyone who is raising a daughter. This is not meant to be argumentative. I'm just curious:

What if Scout WANTS to be pretty, for her own self? What if she wants to sit in front of a mirror and try on makeup. What if she wants to try on different dresses and play with her hair and be "girly."

Not because society is thrusting it upon her, but because she likes doing it?

Do you think women are hard-wired to want to wear cammo pants and bandannas and chew tobacco . . .but society sucks that out of them and pressures them to be pretty and cute?

I only hope that all the "fearsome feminists" in Scout's life will support her just as much if her version of what she wants to be doesn't match up to theirs.

Otherwise, you'll have a kid screwed up for entire different reasons than the one above . . . but you'll still have a screwed up kid.

Steve C.

Kristen, based on your first comment it didn’t seem like you were interested in discussing it at all. You had a lot of opinions (perhaps belittling?) about a woman who’s video you didn’t even watch to completion. Further, I don’t recall decreeing that anyone who disagrees with me is wrong. But you're right, I don't know what books you read.

Steve C., you lose all credibility because you’re a bald man. Just kidding. Scout can be and do whatever she wants. My point was that she wants to change her body to be something that society tells her is better than what she has. Changing that is easier said than done. And by the way, just because I’m gay doesn’t mean you should assume I chew tobacco.

Joan H., As the mother of an infant, I would love to talk with you about the trials and tribulations of parentiing and the decisions that we make.

Baldist!!! I knew you were a closet baldist! I saw you snickering at me at the bocce ball tournament!!!

And just because I'm bald doesn't mean you should assume I'm incredibly well endowed and virile.


Steve C:
Since you asked, I'll tell you that my son, Leo (age 5), loves dresses and makeup so far way more than his 8-year-old sister. He's the one fretting about which vest goes with his fedora that day for kindergarten....

So yes, I will support him - and her - in whatever exploration makes either of them *feel* beautiful. My fervent hope would be that they don't let those decorations define them. But I would be a hypocrite; me who puts on makeup and fusses with my hair, and yes - who wonders out loud to my husband if I look pretty in the new dress I just got.... if I didn't support their exploration of girly-girlishness.

What about your son? How does all this manifest itself with fathers and sons?

Dave, always stirring up some sh*t.

Dave's daughter is amazing. Kirsten's daughter is amazing. We want so much more for them than a world that tells them their value is in their outward appearance. This video expresses the rage shared by all of the aware, thoughtful women I know who understand the very real oppression women face. The messages we face daily that we should always be seeking ways to be a prettier and skinnier tell us that this is where our worth is located. These messages are what encourage girls (not even adult women yet, but girls) to develop eating disorders, seek plastic surgery, try to shrink away and hide all of the amazing inner qualities they possess. All of this has very real implications on self esteem and the ways they exist in the world as they grow. This woman is saying that she embraces herself for all that she is - a strong, powerful woman who loves herself. Nothing is happier, in my book.

I would be careful too, with some of the historical references you make. King encouraged people to take a stand, respect and love themselves, and fight for equality. When feminists fight for love and self-acceptance, they fight a culture that says women are objects for male pleasure. They are fighting gender-based oppressions of sexual assault, domestic violence, abuse, and more. You are naive if you think there is no connection between a society that objectifies women and one that allows violence towards them.

Art and words have power. Katie's words are art, but they are also a form of activism that encourage a greater awareness and serve as a call to action.

Thanks for sharing, Dave!

I love this video.

It's art.

AND it's pretty fucking relevant.

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