Hating On Mark Zuckerberg’s Chinese

Last week, I posted an Atlantic article on Facebook about how Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, was getting a lot of flak for speaking Chinese like a seven year old with marbles in his mouth. I prefaced the post with the following:

You know what this article makes me think of? White male privilege. Awww. Poor white guy who tried so hard to learn one of the most difficult languages in the world and people aren’t adequately encouraging him and giving him praise. Never mind that millions of US immigrants are far more fluent in English than Zuckerberg is in Chinese and yet still they get crap for their accents and told to go back to their country or to learn to speak English. (But only if their accent isn’t European. Then it’s lovely and aristocratic sounding.)

Yeah, good job, Zuckerberg for doing an interview in Chinese. But let’s not be too impressed when one white guy does something millions of immigrants do every day in the US without thanks or encouragement.

Shortly after my post, my brother, AD, IM’d me, “Btw your post about Mark and his Chinese makes your friends and you look like bitter ass bitches. Why even insult him when you should be promoting everyone to try a new language?”

We proceeded to have a discussion in which my brother brought up some good points:

1) That I could’ve posted the article and used it as a positive jumping off point but instead, because Zuckerberg is rich, running a billion dollar company, white, male, and privileged, I gave him shit about it.

2) That despite being rich, white, and privileged, Zuckerberg also worked hard to learn Chinese and build his wealth.

3) That I come off looking really petty.

Now, before I go on, a word of warning. I love my brother. Fiercely. And though I sometimes disagree with him, (and you may, too), this does not give anyone license to malign or talk shit about my brother in the comments. In fact, this may be a good time in general for a quick refresher on my commenting policies. Feel free to debate ideas and thoughts but not the character of the people making them. Let’s be grown ups, yeah? (I realize that 99% of my readers do not need this warning and the 1% this applies to, it won’t make a difference. However, one can only hope.)

Alright, back to the discussion at hand. (One-sided as it is since it’s my blog and I have all the time and space with which to blather on and on about it.)

Am I just being petty?

Short answer: Yes. Emphatically, yes.

Do I care? No. Not one fucking bit.

I will be the first to admit that I am a petty, overly critical, horrible human being. I judge – and I judge a lot, all the time, and mostly, I am judging you as we speak.

It’s completely true. (Sorrynotsorry.)

To be clear: I am impressed with Zuckerberg’s Chinese. His facility with the language is really good and in many respects, far better than mine. I may have the tones better but his business vocabulary is far superior.

Could I have posted something more positive and glowy about the beauty of people learning new languages (especially Chinese since I’m very pro learning Chinese – for EVERYBODY, not just my kids)?

Absolutely! But I didn’t because that isn’t the point I wanted to make.

My point was how utterly ridiculous the ARTICLE was in highlighting how Zuckerberg is being “bullied” by all these mean people, not Zuckerberg himself. Zuckerberg worked hard to be a billionaire and to learn Chinese. Just because he benefits from intersecting privileges doesn’t negate his achievements.

Also, it is possible to be pissed about those privileges – and it is indeed a white privilege – without hating the actual achievement or the actual person.

What DOES piss me off is how we as an American society ooh and aah over some white folks’ learning a foreign language (no matter how mangled or elementary) while we give no credit to foreigners speaking English at the same (or better) level.

I get so irritated when some white kids are enrolled in Chinese school and everyone oohs and ahhs over how they can say “xie xie” (Thank you) or whatever. Like, “Yay! White kids speaking Chinese! So amazing!” And sure, it is. But you know what? No one is all “Yaaaaay” to immigrants or kids in other countries learning English. Or like, “Ooh! So amazing!”

Instead, it’s, “Oh, they can’t speak it right. I can’t understand them. They’re mangling English. If they can’t speak the language, they should just leave. Get out.”

I realize that sentiments such as mine can be construed as elitist and isolationist – as if I am suddenly the Chinese equivalent of France.

Again, (and I can’t emphasize this enough for my non-Chinese friends who have their kids learning Chinese) I am so happy when I hear about kids of any race learning Chinese. I am happy because when there is enough critical mass, this only makes teaching my kids Mandarin easier, both now and in the future. I am happy because beyond the practicality of learning Chinese, I love the language and my people and having more and more people realize how awesome it is instead of being something shameful is a beautiful and wonderful thing.

However, given all my excitement for my non-Chinese friends and their kids learning Chinese (and there are many!), please understand that this subject also touches upon a lot of issues fraught with historic racism, privilege, cultural appropriation, and pain. Please use this amazing opportunity of learning another language and culture as a chance to unpack some of your own privilege (and we all have privilege, whether we think we do or not) and instead of becoming indignant at some of the reactions you may encounter, to stop and consider why.

Alright. Be well, friends. And be kind!

 

WTH Happened, World?

So, while I was in Taiwan, the world exploded. I mean, I was aware of it while it was happening – I am on the internet all day – but it seemed far off and far removed. After all, I was eating my way through Taipei.

But then I got home, finally emerged from my jetlagged haze and my house is finally in some semblance of order, and all the events just kinda hit me. Ferguson. Israel/Gaza. Ebola. ISIS. I’m sure I am missing some.

Quite frankly, it makes me want to take a cue from Gamera.

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Mostly, I’ve been reading about Ferguson and quite frankly, I don’t even know what is left to say. How is it any different from how I felt about Trayvon Martin? I am angry. Sad. Hopeless. And have been mostly silent on the issue other than the occasional comment and boosting articles I think are worth reading.

I am selfishly grateful that my kids will never know firsthand the extreme prejudice that our nation has against black men. And then I am ashamed for the relief I feel for having literally dodged that bullet. I am thankful that my kids are still too young and “white enough” to not ever have a talk about the police in any terms other than that they are helpful and good and just.

I mean, seriously. How do you go about telling your beautiful, precious children that people who you are supposed to trust to protect you will see you as the enemy and shoot first then ask questions later? How do you explain to your babies that there are people who will treat them like shit just because of their color? And that you can’t even tell by looking at folks whether they will be an ally or not.

It isn’t fair.

Because how am I any different than a black mother or father? We all want our children to grow old with a bright and promising future. We all want to trust that people in authority are trustworthy and out for our good. We all want to live as dignified human beings.

I know this post is barely scratching the surface. I really don’t have anything brilliant to add. I just want lend my voice in support.

Some articles that I felt were helpful:

The Lie by Lisa Sharon Harper
The Unacceptable Silence Of Asian American Christians In Response To Ferguson by Erna Stubblefield
Becoming a White Ally to Black People in the Aftermath of the Michael Brown Murder by Janee Brown

My Language Is Not A Cool “Picture” For Your Ass

Today’s post is super short because I hate ranting for too long. And be assured, friends. I am doing you all a favor by cutting it short.

So, I really should be used to Chinese characters being used all over the place, most often, incorrectly and full of gibberish – especially on people’s bodies as permanent body “art,” but I digress. Even though butchering foreign languages and exoticizing “Oriental” words is commonplace on both sides of the Pacific, (eg: hilarious Chinese to English translations), this is still cultural appropriation. (Usually by some New Agey white dude spouting off pseudo-philosophical nonsense and passing it off as “Ancient Chinese wisdom.” Here’s some Ancient Chinese wisdom for you, “Shut your fucking pie hole, you douche.” I would say it in Chinese but my parents never taught me how to properly do the swears in Chinese. A terrible oversight on their part, in my opinion.)

I do realize that most people wouldn’t know the difference between crap Chinese characters and the Real Deal Holyfield, but FFS people, Chinese is an actual language which over a billion actual people read and write. Some of whom, LIVE IN THE GORRAM UNITED STATES. Now, not all of us can read or write Chinese with facility (mine is mediocre at best), but there also exists GOOGLE TRANSLATE as well as the fucking internet in general. Don’t be trying to seem all “zen” or whatever by throwing in random Chinese words in the mix.

Alright. I’m sick of hearing myself rant so in closing, I direct you to this blog, where Americans immortalize gibberish Chinese words on their bodies. It makes me feel better.

Happy Monday, people!

But We Already Read an Asian Book

At our Book Club meeting tonight, a woman said something that I can’t seem to shake off. Now, before I get into it, please understand that I’m not mad at this woman herself. I’m annoyed at the comment she made. Also – I don’t think she is any more or less prejudiced than I am and people in general. She is funny, a wonderful human being, and I really do love her. I don’t think the less of her and will continue to enjoy her company.

Ok. So enough disclaiming.

Tonight, we were throwing out books to consider reading for the second half of 2014. We all contributed several selections and I mentioned the book, When My Name Was Keoko, from my last post. “It’s about two Korean kids during WWII and the Japanese occupation of Korea,” I said.

“But we already read an Asian book!” my friend replied.

In shock, I exclaimed, “What? We’ve read hundreds of books about white people and I’ve never complained! But we can’t read two books with Asians in it?” I tried to keep my voice light and easy. Teasing. I wasn’t really mad – but I also wanted to get my point across.

“I read stories about white people all the time! I’m surrounded by white people! Hapa Papa’s half white! I don’t complain! Sheesh! But we can’t read more than one book about Asians? I also recommended a book where the main character is half black. Is that too many books about colored people?” We all laugh at this.

Realizing the pickle she got herself into, but also joking along, my friend says, “Well, we did read The Help a few years ago, so I think we’re okay.”

“Besides, it’s about the Japanese occupation of Korea during WWII. I never knew about that, did you?”

Another woman said, “No, I didn’t. That sounds interesting.”

“Well, I’m sick of reading about WWII, too,” muttered my friend.

“Yeah,” I agreed. “I’m sick of reading about the Holocaust.” (We have read a LOT of books about the Holocaust in recent years.)

From there, we moved the conversation along. The whole time, no one was offended and there really was a lot of laughter and gentle poking fun. And to be fair, this woman has recommended several books with people of color in the past. But the incident still bothers me because it is indicative of our culture at large.

As much as I appreciate Asian American History month or Black History month, I often feel as if it lets folks off the hook. Like, “Oh, we have a separate month where it’s an anomaly to talk about people of color. But when that blip is over, we can go back to our regularly scheduled programming and talk about real people and real stories. You know, about white people.”

Stories about people who are not white should not be relegated to some “colored” or “very special episode” ghetto. Just because we’ve heard one “Asian” story doesn’t mean that we’re done with our quota for the year. I mean, for crying out loud. How many times have we heard the good girl meets bad boy story? Like, at least a million times. No one is claiming that we shouldn’t have any more of those. (Although, maybe we should.)

Look. Are white people’s imaginations so utterly pathetic that they can’t possibly imagine identifying with a character that is not the same race as them? I mean, millions of black, brown, red, and yellow folks do every single fucking day. Just because we’ve had more practice doesn’t mean our imaginations wouldn’t like a break now and then.

I know we’re always given complete bullshit marketing answers about how white people don’t consume movies/books/shows with POC main characters. I get that companies are in the business to make money. But seriously? Aren’t there billions of non-white people in the world? Have some gumption, story tellers. PLEASE.

In the meantime, I will go out of my way to actively buy and purchase stories with people of color. It’s the least I could do.

Our Family Stories

I recently read a book called, When My Name Was Keoko (affiliate link). It’s a YA book from the perspectives of two Korean siblings, a boy and a girl, and their experiences of growing up in Japanese occupied Korea during WWII. I loved it. Of course, I am biased because I do enjoy YA books and historical fiction in particular because then I can learn history without having to “learn” history. (Side note: Who knew that Japan occupied Korea from 1910-1945? Not me!)

The book touched on hard and terrible subjects without becoming maudlin or manipulative or overly depressing. (A somewhat difficult task considering the subject matter.) The author, Linda Sue Park, did a wonderful job. However, for the first time, I found myself conflicted when reading about this horrible time during Japanese history.

You see, my kids are part Japanese and it is very difficult for me to reconcile wartime atrocities with their cultural heritage. After all, the US was founded on genocide and slavery and I am just fine with living in the US. Plus, I am also okay with Germans (my kids are also part German) as well as less okay with the Chinese part. (I have my own reasons for my distinct distaste for Mainland China.) I am very fine with the Taiwanese part – but that’s because I’m extremely biased in my opinion of my own people. (Who isn’t?)

Anyhow, I found myself once again ashamed at my complete lack of historical awareness and a renewed desire to actively learn for myself (as well as teach my children) our Chinese/Taiwanese/Japanese history. Up until this point, I must say I didn’t care as much about Japanese history because let’s face it, my kids are being raised Taiwanese American because that is what I am. But I have always felt cut off from my cultural heritage and family because my parents didn’t emphasize our family histories and I envy all the people who have stories passed down through generations. I would prefer my children have the stories as part of who they are.

I only have two living grandparents left and there is a major language hurdle for my maternal grandfather as well as an emotional hurdle for my paternal grandmother. (I despise her.) This makes me sad. But I think I will encourage my own mother to tell me and the kids more stories of her family and childhood. And perhaps, I will cajole my uncle to tell me stories of my father’s family and childhood. In addition, it would be nice to have Hapa Papa’s mother tell more of her and her family’s stories as well. I will have to do better with keeping in contact with Hapa Papa’s father’s side of the family, too.

As I mentioned before, I often felt abbreviated and adrift due to my not having a firm grasp of who my families were and how we came to be here in the US. I don’t know if it is a cultural thing or an immigrant thing or just my parents, but I rarely heard anything about their pasts or childhoods when growing up. I felt as if we just sprouted out of thin air.

Now, to be fair, that did have some advantage in that I haven’t felt the burden of generations past. But as a result, I also feel disconnected from my families – and that makes me very sad.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve become more and more drawn to histories and biographies/autobiographies. I am much better at grasping and learning through stories versus dried up facts so I am looking forward to expanding my library and my mind. I think I will start with myths and legends of China and Japan. After all, how is it that I know more of Jewish, Greek and Norse Mythology than my own peoples? And who are a people without the stories they tell themselves about their gods and themselves? Plus, this will make it easier to teach the kids about their heritage as well.

Then, I will expand into stories set in historical situations or perhaps I will have to suck it up and read long non-fiction tomes. *sigh* The things I do for my children.

How have your families passed along generational history, stories, legends, etc.? I am very curious and hoping to steal some good ideas. Let me know in the comments.

Why I Post So Many Articles About Privilege (Specifically, White)

Disclaimer: Due to the nature of this post, I just want to remind people of my commenting policy (both here and on my Facebook wall). The tl;dr version is that I reserve the right to immediately mallet comments I consider to be trolling or offensive. Plan accordingly.

Ever since I decided to “come out” (so to speak) and start sharing articles on the things I truly believe in (whether parenting, relationships, education, race, etc), my Facebook wall has gotten a little bit heated. I’m still getting used to dealing with comments that are completely and abjectly wrong (okay, okay, DIFFERENT THAN my opinion). It’s difficult for me regarding issues I am passionate about (and have a certain strong opinion on) and see some of my friends have almost diametrically opposed views come out and comment. It is hard to separate my disappointment or aversion to their point of view from their personhood – as I imagine it is difficult for them regarding me.

Some folks have wondered why I keep posting articles about race and privilege and not about other things. Why do I “only” share links about certain aspects of race or privilege? Well, quite frankly, it’s my Facebook and I can post whatever I want. Just like this is my blog and I can write about whatever I want. Also, I think about race and privilege quite often and that’s what I’m interested in.

But why all the white-bashing? Why all the articles about all those evil white people or mean rich people? Why all the race baiting?

Race baiting? No. Just because an article mentions the actual REALITY of many people of color does not qualify as race baiting.

The only people who think race doesn’t matter are people who have the privilege to ignore it and can pass through their daily lives without the constant reminder that they are [insert race].

Hapa Papa tells me he no longer reads the links I post about race because I post too much about it. That is his right and his prerogative. But you know what? It is also his PRIVILEGE.

He doesn’t want to think about race? He stops reading my articles and voila! Doesn’t have to think about race anymore.

How many black, Latino, Middle Eastern, or Asian people would like to go about their day and not think about race? I bet 100%. Except they don’t get to. Why? Because if a black dude walks down the street, he gets to hear all the car doors lock as he strolls by, minding his own business. He gets to watch people cross the street in order to get out of his way. Are all these people doing it on purpose because he is black? Probably not. But it happens often enough that he notices it. It happens often enough that lots of black men notice it.

When an Asian person is asked, “Where are you from? No, where are you really from? No, where are your parents from?” They don’t get to forget.

Asian people don’t get to forget when they hear, “Great job! You play T-ball pretty well for a Chinese kid!” and get blindsided on a Saturday morning when they’re just trying to enjoy watching their kid hit a stupid ball and run around.

They don’t get to forget.

They don’t get to forget their race because no one lets them forget it.

Part of the reason I post a lot about race is that I read a lot of anti-racism sites. In fact, for a few years or so, I had to stop reading these sites because I got so burned out reading constantly about the shit that goes on in the world against people of color.

But then I realized. I am incredibly privileged. I have the option to surround myself with people with whom I rarely have to think about race and just be. I am surrounded by enough Chinese and Taiwanese people that I don’t feel I am in the minority. I can shut that part off if I want to.

However, I do live in the real world and even though I live in the Bay Area, that does not make me immune to some of the more annoying aspects about being a Taiwanese person living in a “white” world. As a result, I often post articles that touch on some of my frustrations.

Why don’t you post more articles about the people of different races getting along? Why are you so divisive? How are you different from the KKK? You must be some kind of bigot.

Are you fucking kidding me?

Dear reader. In general on this blog, I try to avoid anger. I tend to avoid “ranting” because I don’t find the tone helpful or useful to a conversation at large. Plus, who wants to always read strident blogs that spread their anger like a contagious disease?

Well, not today. I’m angry. I’ve been angry for awhile now with some of the comments I’ve been getting.

Oh, SCA5 doesn’t matter to you because your kids aren’t full Asian. They won’t be discriminated against when applying for college.

I try not to care what other people say, but I am human. Of course, I care. And lately, I have started to feel as if I can’t post what I want on my own gorram Facebook page without having to deal with essay long comments telling me how I’m wrong or totally off my rocker. Well you know what? Fuck that.

It’s not even that people disagree with me. I actually have no problem with folks disagreeing with me. I have surprisingly enjoyed reading other people’s POV and either re-evaluating my own position or further solidifying what I believe. I don’t expect everyone to think exactly the same way I do. (Shoot, Hapa Papa and I disagree on a lot of stuff and we’re still married and love each other and get along just fine.) It’s just that I’m tired. (And the thing is, I’ve only had to deal with it over the last few months. Can you imagine what people who are constantly on the forefront posting about hard issues have to deal with?)

What particularly gets my goat is when the hurtful comments come from Christians – especially white Christians. (Disclaimer: I also know plenty of white Christians who are incredible allies and have been great sources of healing and support. This rant is not about them. Also, I truly believe that even if people disagree with me or are hurtful, for the most part, they are good people and don’t intend to be dismissive or cruel. But alas, good intentions don’t protect from crappy consequences.)

When white Christians hear the experiences of Christians of color (also, Western Christians re: non-Western Christians) and dismiss our concerns, it is a slap in the face. If we are all one body in Christ, that is like the liver hurting and the armpit saying, “What are you talking about? This isn’t my experience. I am not feeling any pain. You’re not hurt at all.” Or, “Suck it up. Stop being so sensitive. Stop being divisive.”

You know what is truly divisive? When white Christians tell Christians of color that their experiences are void. Untrue. Not as bad as they claim. When white Christians tell us what to write or talk about. What to express.

Why don’t you talk about XYZ instead of all the ways there is racism? Why don’t you talk more about Jesus? 

You want an example of privilege? THAT’S PRIVILEGE. When someone tells you their pain and their experience and you tell them what they should feel and talk about instead because it makes you uncomfortable or doesn’t jive with how you want to picture or view the world. Because it makes you uncomfortable and possibly racist. And because apparently, being racist is the worst thing in the world.

It’s not. I am racist and prejudiced all the time. But when confronted with it, I try to do something about it and examine my motives and responses.

An appropriate response? “I am so sorry you’ve experienced this. I am sorry for my part in perpetuating this experience. How can I help? How can I learn?”

Do not tell me what to do or give me advice unless I specifically ask.

What does it hurt a person to acknowledge their privilege? No one is asking people to not take advantage of what they’ve been given. Even if people didn’t want the privilege they have, too bad. They can’t take it off. Society will treat people however it wants. That is not a person’s fault. This goes for EVERYONE. Besides, it is possible to have areas of overlapping privileges and non-privilege. (Eg: poor, white male, rich black woman, etc.) Being non-privileged in one area does not exempt a person from privilege in others. Privilege and lack of privilege interact in a multitude of ways.

Look. I’m not trying to make people feel guilty. That doesn’t serve any larger purpose. Plus, people have no control over what race, sex, orientation, etc. to which they are born. But people DO have control over how they respond to other people’s pain and experience.

What is privilege? To go about your daily life and not wonder if an interaction was because of something over which you have no control. To rarely be in situations where you wonder if you are imagining a slight because of who you are. To go about your day with people who are remarkably similar to you.

This is why I surround myself with mostly Asian/Taiwanese people. Is that racist? Perhaps. But is it racist for white people to only have white friends? WHY IS THAT NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT? Right. Because white is default.

I hang out with mostly Taiwanese mommies because I don’t have to constantly explain or justify my experiences. I enjoy being surrounded by people who are just like me. You’re tired of hearing about privilege? Well I’m tired of having to explain privilege and proving that it exists. I’m tired of having to deal with its repercussions in MY life. Plus, you don’t have to hear about it. You can turn it off. That in itself is a privilege. But you know what? I’m tired of not being understood or always having to explain myself and my kids and my culture to others. I’m tired of being “other.”

I’m also tired of being thought of as practically white. You know why people think that? Because people of color know how to “act white.” We know how to adjust ourselves so white folks don’t feel uncomfortable – because God forbid white people feel uncomfortable.

But don’t dismiss my experience because you want to live in a “post-racial” world (a fucking bounder if I ever heard one). Yes, it is better than it was before. But in some ways, blatant racism is easier to deal with than the subtle slights. When someone is obviously racist, we can point at it and say, “See? RACISM!” But when it is subtle and hard to point out, it is like a slow death by a thousand paper cuts.

I link to these articles not because I want to harass people as they are going about their daily lives, brandishing white privilege as a means to make good people feel shitty. I do so that people can possibly misunderstand me and people like me a little less.

This is why I link to articles about race so much. Because it finally highlights MY voice. MY experience.

Don’t you dare tell me to shut up.

Beauty Before Pain and Other Lies

The other day, several of my friends and I were lamenting about our mothers (and to be fair, our fathers and society has certainly contributed to the conversation) and the fucked up things they say to our daughters about beauty (and I’m sure, our sons as well, but we are super sensitive about our daughters). I don’t know why we’re so surprised that our mothers say these things – after all, I grew up hearing them all the time. I’m sure this isn’t something only Chinese mothers do, but since I have only had a Chinese mother and am a Chinese mother, that is my main frame of reference.

Even though there were so many obvious lies my mother told me, I didn’t even realize how fully I absorbed them into my psyche until the last ten years or so. (Not with the intention of lying to me, I understand. It’s only because she believes these lies and thinks they are true. Also, it’s because she happens to have some of the characteristics she considers beautiful and for some reason, she can’t wrap her mind around the possibility that someone she birthed would have different features. I swear she is a loving and good mother.)

For instance, I have always been sad that my feet were a size 8. My mother always commented about how my feet were so large and too big for my height. (She wears a size 6.) She said it so much and made me so self-conscious about it that for the longest time, I refused to buy sneakers because I thought they were too bulky and made my feet look even larger. And since sometimes, I could fit into size 7.5, I would often buy size 7.5 shoes out of total vanity but then not wear the shoes because they hurt like a bitch because, oh, hey! THEY WERE TOO SMALL. Then, I’d have to either not wear the shoes at all and waste my money or go back and return the shoes (which is a tough one if they’ve already been worn).

I think it wasn’t until maybe seven or eight years ago when I was returning a pair of gorgeous red pumps that I finally realized how stupid me trying to fit in a smaller size shoe was. Who the fuck cares whether my shoe size was 7.5 or 8? What really matters is wearing shoes that FIT. You know, because walking without pain is a good thing. So when my shoe size increased to 8.5/9 after being pregnant with Cookie Monster, the only reason I was upset about that was because I no longer fit in my awesome red heels. Once I stop pumping out babies and my shoe size doesn’t increase anymore, I’ll go back to buying hot shoes. You know, for all my hot play dates.

It wasn’t only shoe size that I was hung up on. I also would occasionally buy skirts or dresses that were a size down instead of my true size. Which of course, I could only wear comfortably before eating anything and then I’d be constricted or practically bisected after lunch so OF COURSE, I wouldn’t wear these clothes ever again, either. Another total waste of money.

I even suffered through having an engagement and wedding ring that were a size too small (and constantly stuck on my fingers and too tight) because I thought my fingers were too thick. It wasn’t until after I had Cookie Monster that I decided I was ridiculous and re-sized my rings.

Funny enough, it wasn’t until I started watching What Not To Wear that I realized my obsession with a particular size was so stupid. That didn’t change REALITY. Whatever my size was, that was my size. There is no value judgment about my feet or my body. It just was. Once I got over that and started buying shoes and clothes that actually fit, I stopped wasting money and being incredibly uncomfortable.

Another random thing I didn’t like about my body (again, due to my mother’s comments) were my fingernails. My mom has these long, tapered fingers with nice, long nails. My fingers are not quite as long and my nails certainly are not long. In fact, no matter how much I tried when I was younger, my nails never seemed to get long enough. It wasn’t until I had Glow Worm (yes, you read that right) and I saw that his nail beds were so close to the tips of his fingers that if his nails grew just one millimeter, it seemed as if he had nice, long nails that I realized it had nothing to do with my failure to grow nails and everything to do with genetics. My nail beds were further back. I would have to grow my nails at least double the length my mom or Glow Worm did to achieve the same look.

Did I just go off on a super long post about feet and nails? YES. Yes, I did. Why? Because holy crap, the stupid shit we absorb about beauty from our mothers and fathers and television and society really fuck us up. And all about incredibly stupid, meaningless things.

Anyhow, there are all sorts of articles about how we shouldn’t only comment on girls’ outward appearance such as what they are wearing or how they look, but quite frankly, I totally fail at this. And not only with my daughter. I fail at this with my sons. I am constantly telling them they are cute or pretty (equal opportunity comments on pretty girls and boys for me) or beautiful. Of course, I also tell them they are funny, silly, smart, kind, and wonderful, but that may be because I am a little bit biased.

At any rate, I’m sure I’m warping my children with an unnatural shallowness and obsession with their looks (like mother like child, I suppose). So, for our collective amusement (because if you can’t laugh at the utter fucked-uppedness of the following list, you will weep), here are some gems about beauty, straight from the mouths of our mothers:

Stay out of the sun because lighter skin is better. (Somewhat racist, but mostly classist because only peasants who worked in the fields have dark skin.) (Also, I am a stickler for sunblock and sunshirts and hats not because dark skin makes my kids ugly, but because skin cancer is bad.)

Stop furrowing your brow; you’ll get wrinkles. (My mother says this every now and then to Gamera. It’s annoying.)

Big eyes (especially with the double lid) are pretty.

Taller noses with a high bridge are pretty.

Dark, black eyes and hair are prettier than lighter brown eyes and hair.

Being thin is prettier. Being fat makes you look older.

Shaving your head makes you look sick and like you’re dying. Also, it makes you look fat. (Confer previous lie.) (My mother refused to talk to my brother all weekend one summer after I shaved his head. She was pretty pissed at me, too. She was convinced that my brother was having problems and feeling insecure and that’s why he shaved his head.)

If you don’t eat your vegetables, you won’t be pretty.

If you cry, you won’t be pretty. (My friend’s 2.5 year old daughter heard her grandmother say this to her and started to cry. Her mother proceeded to say, “You’re turning ugly!” What made my friend super pissed is that her daughter actually stopped crying.)

Another friend’s dad told her daughter not to run with a stick because if she poked an eye out she wouldn’t be pretty anymore. Forget the fact that she would ONLY HAVE ONE EYE.

GAH. I think I have to stop before I get mad. Or cry. Either way, I won’t be pretty.