Even Pregnant Barbie is Skinny

seven-elements-of-courage

     Growing up I truly loved my Barbies and Bratz dolls, but looking back I realize that there were not many other “girl toys” that carried the same popularity with them.

    I love to tell stories. That’s why I love to read, write and act.  This story-telling obsession can easily be traced back to my days huddled around my Barbie bin trying to play with friends, while simultaneously trying to direct what everyone was doing.  I would re model the set over and over again and constantly change the relationship dynamics between dolls. “They’re sisters! No! They’re best friends!  No they are best friend sisters!

    Some of my most fun days consisted of me scurrying around my room trying to set up the perfect doll neighborhood, before my brother came crashing in and switched my dolls heads around (it was not uncommon to find a white dolls face on a black dolls body).

    There is no doubt in my mind that playing with dolls was an amazing way for me to use my imagination, but what I am pondering is how did the doll itself shape what “play” was?  And how did that shape who I am today?   Looking back at all of the dolls I played with, I notice trends.  Though my white French Canadian Grandma handed me a black bratz doll for Christmas one year and exclaimed, “I found one that looks just like you!” this was not a usual event (hence the excitement)infact,the majority of my dolls were white.  And out of these white dolls, at least 85% had blonde hair and blue eyes. And each and every one of these dolls were unrealistically skinny (even pregnant Barbie)! 

   The look of the dolls shaped how I played. They were always some prissy, girly- girl.  That’s what their clothes were designed to make them.

    In the long term the dolls shaped my image of beauty.  Blonde hair, blue eyes.  Those are two things I will always be envious of, yet I recognize that look as a style adventure I should never embark on!  Despite what Nicki Manaj thinks looks good on black women…

  I’m not saying that my childhood dolls have ruined my self confidence, or sense of worth, because honestly they haven’t.  Obviously I still have more undeserved confidence than the average person because I can wear crocs and sweat pants in public without feeling any shame.  But what I am saying, is that though the impact these dolls have made is small now, without the encouragement of many real-life beautiful and intelligent female role models, I may have never realized exactly how unrealistic these dolls are.

   But now that we as a society have recognized the repeated glorification of unrealistic beauty, I am proud to say the way kids play is being updated by people like Dawn Nadeau and Julie Kerwin who have said, “We set out to design a series of figures with healthier breast, waist and hip ratios; fierce, strong females worthy of an active, save-the-world storyline that fosters creativity in kids,”. They have created a doll line called IAmElemental that encourages girls to learn about what they call “the seven elements of courage” and to also “play with power”.

With women like this I know that the future of dolls is in realisticly beautiful and very strong hands.

For more on these dolls, check out http://www.policymic.com/articles/89791/a-very-different-action-figure-hits-shelves-to-transform-how-girls-think-about-their-bodies?utm_source=policymicFB&utm_medium=main&utm_campaign=social

or http://iamelemental.com/

Day 259 – A Simple Poem For A Simple Problem

#YesAllWomen

The 365 Poetry Project: Year 3

Women are not playthings
and neither are men;
if we treated other humans with respect,
what sort of world would we have then?

If we put away our fancy words
our motives and the games we play
could we find a simple solution,
could we find a better way?

If we learned to love ourselves
not too much, but just enough,
would we also learn to love others,
and not to play so rough?

If I dumbed down my prose to be understood,
to give the world one more simple piece,
would the children understand and embrace it,
would they help us find some peace?

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Autumn Leaves

    The leaves and grass were a crisp refreshing green, but her hair was still the colour of freshly fallen autumn leaves. We would spend our summer days driving with the windows down going 50 over the speed limit as we dashed down hot asphalt roads towards the beach. We’d hop out of my dingy old sunfire and race to see who could get the best patch of sun on the slightly rocky shores of Grand Bend. The sun never really liked her, so she would try to tuck her whole body under the shade of her large umbrella but when she’d doze off into a midday nap some piece of unguarded flesh would roll out from its shelter and be pulverized by the most brutal rays of sun. But no matter how many times she got burnt, she’d still beg me to come back every chance we’d get. How could I resist the plea of a best friend?

    When we weren’t strolling the beach or being typical teenage mall rats we had our jobs. I babysat the neighbours kids half of the time and the other half I worked at the equestrian barn down the road mucking stalls and feeding the hungry giants that everyone other than me seemed to be smitten by. She worked at a Dairy Queen. Once a week her and her fellow employees would bring random foods from home and experiment with them in the deep fryer before cleaning out the oil. Apparently deep fried

peaches are alright. Sometimes I’d load the kids I watched into my sunfire and shuttle us over to the DQ. It was a pain to get two car seats into that little car, but the way those kids eyes lit up when I mentioned the words “dilly bar” almost made up for the pain of installing car seats and removing sweet sticky syrup and popsicle sticks from the back seat.

     We’d pull up to the parking lot and the kids would unclip their seat belts and waitfor me to open their doors. Then one foot at a time they’d wriggle their ways out of their booster seats and wait with raised arms for me to lift them from the car. The sun always seemed to penetrate through the back of my shirt while I leaned over to do this. After freeing the two wild beasts from their constraints we’d strut into the icy restaurant hand in hand and zip up to the counter. If she was at cash she would smile in a way that made me know that she both loved and hated that we came to visit her. If she was in the back she’d slide her way to the storefront to say a quick hello. No matter what, the way her icy blue outfit and visor contrasted with? her spicy red trusses made her uniform look almost fashionable on her. I always found it odd that her name tag was spelt wrong. They added an extra “e” to her name, but it was just like Adriann to not bother correcting people.

     We both booked off one week in August and rented a cottage down by the

beach with a few friends. She was never much of a drinker, but this week she gave her sobriety a vacation and joined in with the rest of us. We’d stay up late drinking, dancing, talking. She told me how excited she was to get into the residence she had, how many facebook friend requests she had gotten since making her University of Waterloo graduating class of 2014 profile. I knew she worried about me. I was staying back. Taking a year to reroute. She was on the fast track to somewhere great.

     At the end of our week we held a big bash. All of our friends drove up and camped out. They brought tents for the backyard and blow up mattresses for the living room and we celebrated her 18th birthday in style. When we woke up the next morning bottles lined the pool, cigarette buds sat in a mason jar on the front porch and the scent of a new goodbye lingered in the air. I looked her in the eyes, but there was something different about her.We left the cottage that evening. The next week I didn’t see her much. But she called me once and told me she went on a date with a guy she had met at the cottage. I dropped by her work with the kids the next week but something had left her eyes.They used to seem so fresh and unassuming, but something had replaced that. She seemed skeptical of my intentions. I’d known her since the first day of the third grade when I moved to Kitchener and I had never seen this side of her before. I left her an extra large tip that day in an attempt to cheer her up. Nice I thought she had seen me do it, but

maybe she didn’t because she remained like a marble statue, unchanged. And though she had always been pale, it appeared that all of her pigment had flushed out of her in the last two weeks.

      One day shortly later I dropped by her house without calling like I usually did.

Nobody was home. So I decided to wait for her to get there. I called her cell phone three times before she answered. With every buzzing of the line my impatience grew and my hope to see her again died. “Hello.” I heard slide out from her end. “Hi, I’m at your house”I somehow let slide out as I wiped my palms on my khaki shorts. “umm… Yeah… I’ll be

there soon” I heard some rustling in the background but I didn’t bother asking anything else. “Okay” and then the line went to buzzing again. You know how time seems to move slower than molasses when something is wrong or to pass in the blink of an eye when something is fabulous. Well when she slithered out of that midnight black volvo time was creeping by like the last bit of honey being squeezed out of a thick glass jar.  And that was before my eyes landed on him.

     He looked clean cut enough. He sounded, smelled and stood like the average guy. But something caused a mosh pit to explode into full Heavy Metal concert mode in my stomach. His eyes were a green-grey and his skin was pale and lifeless like Adriann’s had become. When he shook my hand his palm was too clammy in the worst possible way. Never trust the cold sweats.

    Adriann had changed to match him. Her style, her hair, her walk. It’s like he sucked the life out of her and slapped on a long sleeve in August just to prove how lifeless she was. She had traded in her pastel sundresses for denim capris and grey long sleeves. Even her hair had somehow lost its luster and was hanging around her face like curtains. Her usually defined cheekbones were sticking out just a fraction of a centimeter more, but I noticed.

    She offered me to come in for a beverage. But it didn’t feel sincere. I declined. Months passed, school came. At first I would text her, but then her reponses got further and further apart. Eventually they stopped all together. I heard her and Thomas were still together. Then I heard she flunked out. Then I heard she had gotten into some trouble with the law. The rumours just piled up.   I met up with her for coffee one day. Our conversation lasted fifteen minutes before Thomas called and asked her to come home. We had barely gotten past the hellos when she threw on another layer of fabric and pulled herself to the doorway. She looked so frail as she shuffled to the exit with a wave and half smile.

    That was the last time I saw her.

    I got the call the next fall when I was in my third week of class at college. They said she must have taken off from Thomas and drove to the beach. They found her purple lipped on the shore, half in the water, half on the rocky sand. Half conscious, half

out of it, high as a kite. She was just too frail to make it through.

    I rushed to meet her at the hospital. I wanted to hold her hand and tell her everything was going to be alright. But it was too late when I got there. I spoke at her funeral. I spoke of the Adriann that I had known and loved. The Adriann that left the moment Thomas pricked her with a needle. The one that planned a future, a bright one, the one that a pimp, drug dealer and abuser killed long before her heart stopped beating.

    As I drove home from the funeral I rolled my windows down to let some crisp fall air in. Just as my mind began to drift I passed under the shade of trees and something intruded through my window. I nearly skidded off the road, but I managed to get back on track. I looked in the passenger seat and saw a vibrant pile of freshly fallen autumn leaves being tossed slightly by the wind. I left them alone. It was nice to drive with some company again.

Hold your Father Extra Tight

It’s been three weeks, four days, and twenty-something hours.

I try to sleep, wake up, take extra long showers.

And when I think about the pain my heart thumps inside my chest

Unless I’m distracted or busy, the thumps don’t seem to rest.

 

When I try to write my words just don’t come through

Because I only want to write a letter that will get to you.

But heaven doesn’t have same day delivery.

But someday we’ll have our chat. Alone, just you and me.

 

I wish that I could hold your hand,

and pull you through the pain.

But diabetes won the match,

You put up quite the fight against the strain.

 

And now all I think about is all the wasted time.

Regrets got a choking grip.

 It’s torturing my mind.

I pray that you feel my love

Even though you’re far away.

I live each day hoping that I’ll know for sure some day.

 

When I stare in the mirror at two black brown eyes.

I see you, I see me, a blur between the lines.

And when I hear my brother laugh,

It’s just a tenor rendition of yours.

And because of this moving on feels just like a chore.

 

But this was just to let it out.

To cry a tear in words.

But someday you will hold my hand.

And we’ll soar above with birds.

 

But that  won’t be till my sun has set.

I have many days left to live.

But Daddy, I regret,

The time I did not give.

 

When I saw you laying in a box,

I felt you cold, un alive.

I closed my eyes and brushed your hand and hoped for you to rise.

 

Please if you read these words I’ve shared,

Do one thing for me.

Hold your father extra tight and say “I love you” daily.

Turning the Camera Back Around

     It’s no surprise to anyone when I say we live in a self centered society.  We have mirrors in every bathroom, front facing camera on our phones and photo booths at every event we go to.  I’m not saying photographing is evil or wrong, I’m just stating that our focus for photographing has evolved from a way to preserve a memory, to nearly a self worship.

     A picture says a thousand word is very true, but what about when what the picture is saying is that we live in a superficial society that values youth and beauty above everything else?  Are those the words we want our pictures to say? I hope not.

   I love a selfie just as much as the next person, but I find that most selfies have become more than a fun way to capture a part of a person, but a way of life. 

    I have gone on many trips with groups of other teens and over the years I have watched the camera migrate from capturing our surroundings, to just capturing us.  Many times when standing in front of a beautiful site I witness my friends standing with their backs to the object and their camera facing them.  Foreground-my pal, background- the beautiful statue or building…

    What does this say about our culture? We are centered around ourselves.  Our beauty. Our value.

    I’m not just pointing fingers, I too am guilty of this selfie life style at times.  We are too busy looking through a lens, trying to capture the glamour of our life to stop and look at the world with our naked eye. 

   “People so often whip out their cameras almost mindlessly to capture a moment, to the point that they are missing what is happening right in front of them,” says researcher Linda Henkel of Fairfeld University in the U.S. 

   This isn’t just causing us to play the comparison game constantly, it’s causing us to loose our memories and it has a name-“photo-taking impairment effect.”  

  Next time you are experiencing something you want to remember, take a moment to let it in before you take out your camera and while you’re at it, try turning the camera

 

 

For more on “photo-taking impairment effect” check out
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/12/10/memory-loss-causes_n_4419560.html
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/10507146/Taking-photographs-ruins-the-memory-research-finds.html
http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/photos-hamper-memory-study-article-1.1543166

11:59

If you must remember me as a time of day I suggest 11:59.

When the old day is ending with all of it’s regrets and mistakes.

When it’s shed it’s leather skin and there is no room for fake.

When the past kisses the present.

When the old day becomes new.

When it’s 11:59 think of me as a warm copper, the hue of tea within a mug, or a midnight navy blue.

 

At 11:59 it’s not sunset, nor is it dawn.

The troubles of yesterday have parted.

You’ll meet new ones- it won’t be long.

 

At 11:59 with all your troubles on your back,

Say a little prayer for me. 

And I’ll say one for you.

11:59 holds hope for more than just us two.

 

At this break of new day no guarantee your promises will be met.

But if you thirst for life,

You may just for one brief moment in the nearly midnight moon

Forget about your troubles,

And I’ll meet you in your memory.  In a heartbeat.  Very soon. 

 

 

 

Created

I wasn’t a soul created to stay in one place,

With one thought,

At one time.

 

I wasn’t a soul created to roam with a map,

With much help,

With a guide.

 

I was created to trip, stumble and fall.

To scrape my knees

And to cry.

 

To look up above,

with tears on my face

To crawl before I will fly.