Friday, September 30, 2011

The bully stops here - no more bullying!

Now that I have a child in school full-time, there are many things to think about, new issues to worry about, and lunches to pack every day. So far, grade one has been nothing but wonderful for my son, and we're both so happy.

Watching my son playing with his friends before and after school warms my heart, and makes me want to burst out crying, because these children? They're innocent. They are full of laughter and they are kind to each other. I don't know if it's just my son's school, but I see so much respect between children on the play ground, no matter the difference in age between children. These children? Their lives don't include bullies.

Yet.

When I was in middle school, I was the victim of bullying. After competing in a relay race in track and field, a girl with the initials M.H beat me up. She pushed me into a locker, hit me, and kicked me, repeatedly telling me I wasn't a fast enough runner. I don't know how I managed to walk out of school and get on the bus without bursting into tears, but as soon as I got home, I started crying. I told my mom everything.

The next day we were in the Principal's office, along with a police officer and the girl who beat me up. After she received a serious warning and a detention, she was very nice to me for the remainder of the school year, going out of her way, almost, to be friendly to me. That wasn't the first or last time I was the victim of bullying, but it is the one incident that I remember the most.

Recently, an 11 year old disabled boy took his own life because he was being bullied. Imagine how awful and depressed a child must feel to take such drastic measures? It's awful. And sadly, he's not the first child to end his life because of bullying. It's happened way too many times for us to be quiet, and I think we have to stand up for our children louder than ever before. Guess what? It's not okay for bullies to get away with their behaviour anymore.

A local radio station, Majic 100 , is doing something wonderful to help spread awareness about the serious issue of bullying.

After seeing so many stories about bullying, the Majic 100 Morning show
with Stu, Angie and Trish decided to do something more than just talk about the issue on-air. The morning show has decided to go around to different schools in Ottawa and surrounding areas to present their anti-bullying message to students, in order to raise awareness of this serious issue.

Stu was a victim of bullying in school, too, so it's also a cause close to his heart. He tweeted that if he had to visit every school in Ottawa to speak up against bullying he would. The #NoMoreBullies hash tag was created and the idea has received amazing support from the community.

Stu told me that they have been inundated with requests from schools, and the emails they've received from parents have made them cry because the stories have been so hard to read. Stu says that "kids being cruel to other kids has to stop." And I completely agree.

As a mother of two children, and as someone who was bullied in school, I know how awful it feels to be a victim of bullying. I'm here to protect my children every way I can, and I am actively involved with my children's lives at school. I'm going to do everything I can so my boys know that it is never okay to be mean to another child, that everyone deserves to be treated fairly, and that no one should be made fun of for any reason.

I am teaching my children to be strong and confident, and letting them know every day that we are here for them, and that there is nothing they can't tell us. Keep communicating with your children, and make sure they know you're always there to listen to them. As parents, it's our job to teachour children right from wrong. As parents, it's also our job to make sure the schools our children attend is a safe place for them to be.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ottawa Fashion Week

Last year, I attended Ottawa Fashion Week (OFW) and blogged about it for Ottawa At Home Magazine. Even if you're not totally into fashion, it's a fun an exciting event to be at. The best part? Proceeds from OFW go to CHEO. Fashion while supporting a great cause? I'll drink to that!




Last year, sitting front-row centre with a perfect view of the catwalk, I imagined I was in New York City during their infamous fashion week. OFW took place at the National Gallery of Canada which offered the perfect backdrop to the stylish event. Over 18 designers brought their new creations to life in a room full of people who were there for the fashionable (and charitable) event.

I attended one night only, and had a great time mingling, drinking wine, and taking in the fashion show. The music was lively and upbeat, the designers were all very talented, and the night was as an overall success.

Ottawa Fashion Week is back and is bigger than ever. This year, OFW takes place at the new Congress Centre and features designers from not only Canada, but from around the world.

I'm happy to report that a portion from each ticket sold will be donated to the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario - CHEO is very near and dear to my heart, so this makes me even more excited to attend again this year.

And guess what else? I'm giving away two tickets to Ottawa Fashion Week! Just leave me a comment below telling me what your favourite fall piece is and you'll be entered to win tickets for this weekend!

I will be picking a winner at midnight, randomly.

Good Luck, and I hope to see you there!

I also wanted to let you know about a jewellery giveaway I'm currently running on my shopping blog at Yummy Mummy Club - a $125 gift certificate for some fine custom-made silver jewellery. What are you waiting for? Go enter!

Friday, September 23, 2011

I want to thank you...

"Well, you win some, you lose some." That right there is one of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite movies ever, Dazed and Confused. Yeah, I know that line hasn't only been used in that movie, but I like to bring up Dazed and Confused whenever I can.

Over this last week I've asked my friends to vote for me to help me advance to top three for co-host of Daytime Ottawa. (Even though the online vote was only worth a small percentage of who got chosen to advance.)


Despite the fact that I didn't make top three, I am still very happy. I am also so completely blown away by how wonderful and supportive my friends have been. Being in the top ten was the most amazing experience, and this week was SO. MUCH. FUN! And a little stressful, to be honest.

It was fun to be in two local papers talking about making it to the top then, and it was fun to talk to so many people about this contest.


I have so many people to thank I don't even know where to begin. All my online peeps, my favourite bloggers, my best friends, heck, my entire Greek community and an old university professor, too! This contest has been humbling, and eye opening. It even had me crying tears of happiness at times from messages I received from a few special people. I am just waiting for the chance to return the favour to everyone. Hit me up, anytime, for real.

This contest was a perfect example of how people in our blogging community come together to help out fellow bloggers and friends if asked, no matter how big or how small the favour. It was also a reminder of how important friends are.

Working in television and in the media world has always been a passion of mine, and having spent a few years working in the industry, I know that I'd like to be there again in some capaticy. I don't ever give up on the things I want. I'm a pretty determined girl! (Annoyingly so, some would say!)
This contest has also taught me something else really important - that I never, ever want to get into politics. My goodness, no.

Thanks again, everyone! From the awesome people at Rogers, to all my friends and supporters, this was such an exciting opportunity and learning experience.

Love you!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

One last push: please vote for me!

As you know, (oh, God, I'm sure you know...) I'm a finalist to be the new co-host of Daytime Ottawa.

In order to advance, I need online votes from people to make it to the top three!




I have been so blessed with so many awesome friends helping me out by voting and posting messages on facebook and twitter.

I only have two more days to ask my friends to vote for me. It's unlikely that my numbers will go up drastically in that short time, but still - why give up when it's been so much fun so far? It's been so incredible receiving support from the people I love in my online and real life community.

It's been even more amazing to see my true friends step up for me. What an experience it has been! Derick, you're one lucky guy - this city is buzzing from the excitement to see who will get to sit next to you every day!

Today, I even received an email from my old Communications professor from Carleton University telling me he voted for me and that he is supporting me. That, my friends, is something I'll always remember. This week has been awesome. Your support is so appreciated.

If you can spare a second, please go vote for me, Loukia Zigoumis!

Thank , my friends and dear readers. Much love to you! xoxo

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Vote Loulou for Co-Host of Daytime Ottawa! Please?

As you may already know, (I've tweeted this a hundred times already!) I applied to be the new co-host of Daytime Ottawa, and I made it to the top ten! I was so excited when I received the great news that I was a finalist. It's always been a dream of mine to co-host a show like Daytime, and now, the opportunity is right in front of me.

I had the chance to co-host the show a couple of weeks ago, and you can watch a few minutes of me chatting it up with the co-host here, and co-hosting the fashion segment here. (Totally up my alley, wouldn't you say?)





Me and co-host, Derick Fage. The entire crew of Daytime was so much fun to work with!



Yes, I took a picture of myself on TV... what? Is that weird?

I absolutely loved co-hosting the show, and the one hour went by so fast. My co-host Derick is a total professional, and we had awesome chemistry from the very beginning. (I met him before, when I was on the show as a guest talking about the world of blogging!)

The best job I ever had was when I worked in television and radio. I love everything about working in a busy newsroom: interviewing people, getting the line-up ready for the show, writing the content, and watching everything come together. Also, the people who work in telelvision - both in front of the camera and behind the scenes - are usually pretty darn cool. I am fortunate to live in such a great city where we're able to showcase so many talented people, too. That's what makes Daytime such a great show.

NOW, my friends, I need your help. I would love to advance to the top three for co-host of Daytime Ottawa.

Everyone can vote here for their favourite co-host! Please vote!



The three finalists with the most votes will advance to the next round, where they'll get a chance to co-host again. I would love to do this again! (and again... and again...)

Please vote for me! Please tell all your friends to vote for me! Spread the word, if you're so inclined, on your blogs, on Twitter and on Facebook, too.

You can vote every day this coming week, too. So vote often! Please?

Please #VoteForLoulou for co-host of @DaytimeOttawa!

I am thankful to have made the top ten - to me, that's a great accomplishment already, and I'm proud of myself. To say I'm in the TOP THREE would be incredible. Please help make that possible for me? I'd love love love your support and votes!

I also want to say a huge THANK YOU to all my wonderful friends (you know who you are!)who have supported me all along and have given me great words of encouragement through emails, tweets, and facebook messages. I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH! You rock my world. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

xoxo,
Loulou

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Old School Blogging

A couple of nights ago, I was thinking about how much I miss Old School Blogging.

You know? From a few years ago, when things were just... blogs, and nothing more? Just our stories, written from our hearts, here for the world, for our little community, to read? When we had more time, it seems, to sit down and read posts from start to finish, when we were able to comment without problems because we weren't doing it from our iPhones, and when we didn't "favourite" every post we wanted to eventually get around to reading... (because we don't always get back to those posts, do we?)

I started blogging in 2007, which to some of you is still not even that Old School, but to me, it's well... old enough. My first born son, now in grade one, was only 18 months old when I started this little blog. This little blog has been very good to me, for so many reasons, mainly because of the friendships I've formed, and the opportunties I've experienced. I'm very thankful.

I've written before about the top ten things blogging has taught me but let me add to that. Blogging forms real friendships and relationships, and bloggers are united despite the distance in miles. The support can be incredible. Meeting your favourite bloggers in real life is awesome, and reading blog posts from talented writers helps you become a better writer, and a better thinker. A few years ago, the blogosphere was more quiet, and keeping up with my favourite blogs wasn't a problem. Lately, it's getting harder to keep up, and to comment as frequently as I used to, and I'd like to change that back to the way it was.

Mom 101 and Girls Gone Child were the first two blogs I read all those years ago. Liz and Rebecca continue to inspire me to write, to be a better blogger, if you will. And if I ever need a reminder about why I blog, I just visit their sites. Can I just add that the talent in the blogosphere is so incredible?

A couple of nights ago on Twitter I said: "I miss Old School Blogging, circa 2009-2010". Many awesome bloggers chimed in, and we started talking about blogging and how it was, and how things have changed. (Thanks, Angie, Bon, Ali, Isaa, Casey, Leslie, and Neil for the discussion!) And thanks for chiming in too, Liz. We talked, in 140 characters, about how Twitter has changed the landscape of blogging, but not in a bad way. In fact, for most of us, Twitter has opened up new doors, and has given us amazing opportunities - like new jobs.

Bon mentioned how for most of us, comments on blog posts were the first way to measure our "success" online. Recently, (like many of you) I've noticed a huge increase in numbers reading my posts, but a decrease in comments.

Ali wrote a while back about trying to comment on 20 blogs a day. It's not that hard, you know? All it'll take is for us to get off Twitter for like... 20 minutes. Can you do it?

Also, a friendly reminder: people prefer comments on their actual posts, not on Twitter. It's awesome when posts get re-tweeted, but save the actual comment for the blog post! Comments make the world go round. Comments and a nice glass of white wine.

Although things have changed in the last couple of years, I'm still as passionate about blogging today as I was back then.

What about you? Have you noticed a change in the blogosphere?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My interview with Roller Girl at TIFF

I've always been fascinated with Hollywood. After university, I applied to intern at various news stations like CNN, NBC, and CBS in Washington, D.C. I was accepted to all, and chose CBS. Looking back, I'd have chosen CNN, but as a 20-something recent graduate, picking the location with the shortest subway ride to and from the news station made a lot of sense to me.

After that, I interned at Entertainment Tonight in Hollywood, California, which was a huge dream of mine. I was completely in awe from the second I walked onto the Paramount Studios lot, blown away by the constant action, and the television and movie sets. I didn't meet anyone famous unless you count Mary Hart, but I did drive up to the Hollywood sign and imagined one day owning a house there. (I'm now aware that not all dreams come true.) I loved Rodeo Drive as much as I thought I would, and I sat in Mary Hart's chair a few times. I left the internship early, to take a job I was offered in radio back home.

I am still fascinated with everything having to do with the entertainment industry. Especially good movies and the way everything comes together - from the writing, to the directing, to the editing and costume design.

A few days ago, I was in Toronto (second weekend in a row - I wish I could teleport myself there every weekend!) for TIFF - the Toronto International Film Festival. I was invited by Erica Ehm (my awesome "boss" over at Yummy Mummy Club) and Eden Spodeck, to attend the film screening of The Flying Machine, a very cool, very artistic 3-D live action/animation film starring Heather Graham. Yup, Roller Girl herself. (She's also starred in Drugstore Cowboy, Twin Peaks, Swingers, Boogie Nights, Austin Powers, and The Hangover.)

How was I going to turn down an opportunity to be in Toronto during TIFF, for a film screening, complete with photo op and interview with Heather Graham? I simply had to go!



(I have to say that Heather is stunning in person, and for 41 years old? She looks especially good. She's super tall, and of course, super lean and thin.)

I got in my car at 6 a.m. and drove straight to Toronto, picking up my best friend along the way. I made the trip in record time and we made our way to the theatre, where all the action was. It was so cool just being there, and I think at one point I was even standing beside Robert Pattinson, who was on his bike, wearing red Converse sneakers and a gray sweater. By the time we realized it might have been him, he was gone, just like... Edward Cullen. Ahem. No sparkles, though.

At the theatre, we met up with a few other bloggers and sat down to watch the movie in a VIP section (it was taped off, and it was in the same row that Heather sat in - a few seats away from me. Note to self: Heather did not eat the popcorn.)

The Director and Producer of the film spoke a bit before the movie started, along with Heather. I wasn't sure that actors actually sat down and watched their movie with everyone else, but they do, and well... neat! Also, awkward!

I thought The Flying Machine was a very artistic, family-friendly film, My full review will be posted on Yummy Mummy Club!

After the movie ended, I had to go the washroom (as if I was going to walk out DURING the movie, with Heather sitting like, next to me, practically!) and as I walked across the hall, who did I see up close and personal, giving a press conference to a room full of people? JAMES FRANCO. Yup. I took a quick picture with shaking hands, and had to go outside for some fresh air. Problem was, it was HOT outside! Anyway, I digress...

I didn't have as cool an experience as other bloggers I know, who actually interviewed and were in the same room as GEORGE CLOONEY, Ryan Gosling, and Roberg De Niro, but it was an incredible experience nonetheless!

The Flying Machine was a really interesting movie. An adventure, if you will, combining 3-D stop-motion animation, live action, and the music of Chopin. Acadamy Award winner Hugh Welchman, famed pianist Lang Lang, and Heather Graham did a great job making and starring in this movie.

After the movie, we attended a private press conference in the Hyatt - just a handful of other bloggers and myself - and Heather Graham. We asked her questions, had a few laughs, and took some pictures. She was very nice and sweet. I asked her what movie she liked being in the most, hoping she'd say License to Drive. However, she liked them all the same.

After the interview, my best friend and I went to Yorkville to have lunch on a patio so we could people watch. I don't know if we saw anyone else famous, because everyone always looks like someone famous in Yorkville. It was such a great afternoon!

Next year, I am going to TIFF for the entire festival! The 10 hour drive to and from Toronto in one day was well worth it for me!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Reflections

10 years ago today the world changed for us all. Every since that fateful day, I think of things as "before" and "after". The horror of 9/11 has had a ripple effect on everybody, even on children who weren't born yet.

My boys have asked questions about the framed poster of the twin towers in our basement and we've had to explain to them the best we can why those towers are no longer part of New York City's landscape.

They're reminded of that day when we travel, like the time they had their liquid-filled rubber balls taken from them because the balls were considered a 'threat'. Try explaining that to a two year old.

They are reminded of that day when they have to take off their shoes as they walk through security at the airport. Each time, my youngest child cries, not fully grasping why he has to do this. Each time, it breaks my heart. This is nothing to complain about, really, as I put our safety above all else; it's just a tiny example of how everyone's lives have been changed, somewhat, because of that day.

10 years ago I got up and went to work, just like everybody else. I didn't have any babies to kiss good-bye back then, though. But so many others did. They couldn't imagine those good-bye kisses were going to be their last to their beloved children. Those children didn't think it was the final good-bye, either. But it was, all because of that horrific day. I think about the innocent lives lost all the time.

I think about the fear we all felt as we watched the twin towers collapse. I think about the people who died, the people who lost their lives trying to save others, and the victims who were left without a husband, a wife, a mother, a father, a child, a sister, a brother, and a friend that day, and I think about how they have had to adapt to a 'new' normal, a new life they never asked for. I will always keep them in my thoughts and prayers, along with so many others.

I think we absolutely have to reflect back on this day, and say a prayer or two, even if we're not really the praying type, for the lives lost, for the lives changed, and for everyone in general.

Also in my thoughts and prayers tonight is fellow blogger Anna who lost her child in the flash floods in D.C. a few days ago. I have been thinking about her since I heard about her terrible loss. Her pain and suffering is something no mother should ever have to experience. As a mother, my heart is bleeding for her, and for her family. She is my prayers tonight.

Life is precious, and fragile. And we should be thankful, and cherish every single second.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Champagne Celebrations

If I had to describe this past weekend in one word? Perfection. I was invited to stay at the Marriott Bloor Yorkville with my family for my birthday. A weekend in one of my favourite cities with my family? I couldn't have asked for a better way to celebrate turning 35 years old. In fact, this was a birthday to remember!

Not only were we going to be staying in my favourite location in Toronto - right in the middle of Yorkville - but we were going to be staying in the two-floor Presidential Suite. The pictures I saw of the suite on the website took my breath away, and I knew my children would be in heaven, too. My little boys, already such seasoned travellers, love staying in nice hotels. I don't blame them. The best part about going on trips with my children is building new memories and spending lots of quality time together, time that is filled with laughter and non-stop giggles.

When we arrived at the hotel in our GM Traverse (thanks again, Adria - this vehicle was an amazing ride and my children loved the DVD player!) we were greeted by the friendly staff at the front desk. "We've been expecting you, Loukia! Welcome to the Marriott Bloor Yorkville!" I was impressed with the service and friendly faces from the moment I walked into the lobby.

My boys ran ahead of us into the suite, and instantly noticed the beautiful balloon arrangement on the main floor, I was so surprised to find fresh flowers, a cake and champagne for us to enjoy, too. Let the celebrations begin!





I have never received such thoughtful service before. I could hardly keep up with my boys as we ran upstairs to check out the rest of the suite. The room upstairs was beyond spacious, with huge windows overlooking Yorkville, and a bathroom (the second bathroom in the suite) as big as the entire second floor of my house. The bed? It was just as comfortable as it looks.



There were little treats upstairs for the children, too - toys, colouring books, bubbles, and special (healthy!) snacks that the boys enjoyed throughout our stay.



This was just one side of the bathroom. Bathtime in here was a whole lot of fun for my little dudes.



I loved wearing the comfy hotel bath robe and slippers. And a huge bonus? The Bath and Body Works products used by the Marriott! Was that the icing on the cake, or what? Almost...





My parents were also invited to the Marriott Bloor Yorkville. Their room connected to our suite, which was perfect for the kids. My sister and her family were also given the chance to enjoy this beautiful hotel. It was an excellent way to celebrate my birthday, and the perfect way to spend the last official weekend of summer. We were all so very thankful for this opportunity!

The best part about travelling with your parents is the fact that you have built-in babysitters. That night, hubs and I went out with my sister and her husband and 15 of my best friends to Il Posto for dinner.

You wouldn't believe how surprised I was when I was told that my friends at Mom Central Canada had ordered two bottles of the best champagne there was to help us celebrate. (I can't thank you girls enough!) I think I said "wow!" a hundred times that night. Also? The champagne really was the best I've ever had!



One of my best friends was celebrating her birthday the next day so our evening ended with lots of cupcakes - it was a double celebration!



Of course, no weekend in Yorkville is complete without getting a good workout in - a workout that involves lots of walking into the fabulous stores, trying on clothes, and carrying bags filled with awesome new purchases! 3 bags of damage from Anthropologie and my fall wardrobe is now complete.





On top of everything we were treated to at the Marriott Bloor Yorkville, we all received complimentary breakfast every day. It was great to see my one year old niece enjoying bacon as much as the rest of us!



We went to Centre Island with our family and friends on Sunday, even though it looked like it was going to rain. I love taking the kids to Centre Island because they love the boat ride and watching the planes take off and land from the airport. Of course, the rides at Centre Island are totally fun, too!



We spent the last day at the Royal Ontario Museum before heading back home to Ottawa. It's quite the museum, and a must-see if you're visiting Toronto.

I can't tell you how thankful I am for this weekend, or how blessed I feel to have had this experience. It was the most amazing weekend ever. As my boys both said to me at two different times on the day we were leaving: "Mommy, every time we come to Toronto, we have to stay at this hotel! I love it!" I completely share their enthusiasm, and am happily looking forward to our next visit. (Is it too soon to start planning?)

THANK YOU, Marriott Bloor Yorkville, THANK YOU Mom Central Canada, and thank you to my family and friends. 35 is not so bad, after all!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

35 things

It's my BIRTHDAY! I'm 25 35 years old. I'm not getting any younger, am I?


The truth is, I'm okay with 29. I mean, 30. FINE, 35.


Seriously, there is nothing scary about getting older.


I still feel as youthful today as I did when I was 20. Except, well, I'm more tired. And sometimes, I ache. And I've recently caught myself squinting at my computer screen. Anyway, let's not focus on those things! Age is just a number, after all, and not nearly as important a number as the one on the inside of your jeans! (Ha.)

There are some things I miss about being younger, like not having to worry about real life issues. Real life issues like bills and cooking and worrying about your children when they are sick. I've got to say, life was far easier when I was younger, when life's biggest worry was whether or not I'd score a good parking spot as I arrived always late to campus. Or the stress about what I was going to wear every morning. Wait - I still worry about that! I guess some things never change, huh?

It's been a year full of good memories, a year filled with the little things that matter the most, a year of growth, and a year of happiness. I loved sharing my exciting news with everyone about being a top ten finalist for the co-host position on Daytime Ottawa, (I'm hoping you vote for me!) and taking a trip down memory lane thinking about where I'm from.

I had an amazing vacation with the family in Maine this summer, enjoyed a girls weekend getaway, and survived the END OF THE WORLD. Of course, there were moments of complete panic, when I wasn't worrying about Doomsday.

I attending my second BlogHer, and shared my experiences about motherhood with my readers. I was on the Marilyn Denis show, and had a health scare that involved my first mammogram. I got a few things off my chest, too - and blogged about all the things that annoy me. God, that felt good.

Looking back, it was a very busy, wonderful year - and I am thankful for so much. This year, I'll be spending my birthday in Toronto with my family and friends. I've been invited to stay in a two-floor suite at the Marriott Yorkville! Yorkville, you say? Thankfully, it is my birthay, so any shopping I do will be guilt-free, right?

I thought I'd also celebrate my birthday by sharing with you 35 things I absolutely love:

My children.



My incredibly supportive family.
Being Canadian.
Ativan on plane rides.
Pizza and Diet Pepsi.
Best friends.
Good Health.
Movies and movie popcorn.
Krispy Kreme donuts.
Days when calories don't count.
My children's laughter.
Sleeping next to my children.
Shopping, and finding amazing shoes on sale.
Swimming in the ocean, and listening to the sound of the waves.
Blogging, and the incredible connections and friends I've made because of it.
Twitter.
Awesome TV shows, like Curb Your Enthusism.
Books I don't want to put down.
A good blow-dry.
White wine.
Traveling to places I love (Miami!) with the people I love (My family!)
Driving in my new VW, with the windows down, listening to awesome music.
Good news stories.
Happy surprises.
Chocolate.
Watching my son on the soccer field.
Listening to my children's conversations.
Playing with my boys.
Slipping into that new LBD.
Hours in the book store.
Starbucks.
Hugs that linger and never ending laughter.
Kisses from my boys.
Achieving my goals.
Incredible opportunties.

What are some things YOU love and are thankful for?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The controversial t-shirt

Years ago, before I became a mom, I bought a shirt from Abercrombie and Fitch—a graphic long sleeved t-shirt with this saying on it: Dependently Wealthy.

I thought it was a perfect shirt for me, since I always relied on my parents to pay off my credit card debt. I shopped freely, knowing that even though I'd get one heck of a lecture from my father, I'd do it all again the next month. I was very convincing, I guess, when I solemnly looked at my parents and said: "I promise I won't shop not even once this month!" No, this is not behaviour I am proud of, but since handing over my Gold AMEX to my parents before I walked down the aisle, I have learned a few things.

I still love to shop, a lot.
Having a credit card WITH a limit has helped, a lot.
I don't like shopping with cash, ever.
I'd rather put cotton balls in my ears then hear about how I spend too much money, again.
The message on the shirt is still funny, at least to me.

Now, let's talk about inappropriate messages on shirts. "Who has time for homework when the new Justin Bieber album is out?" is the description for the new shirt that JC Penney was selling, until the social media uproar caused them to pull it from store shelves.


Liz wrote an excellent blog post about this t-shirt, and about sexism in ads in general.

"We live in a world right now that makes it harder and harder for girls to want to succeed. Snooki is getting more air time than the First Lady, and there’s a pervasive culture of sexuality that children are getting sucked into far before they should."

And I absolutely agree with her. Also, Snooki has published a book, and I. have. not. We live in a backwards world, I tell ya.

Every day I walk by teenage girls wearing jean shorts so short Daisy Dukes look conservative. Not trendy short, like Marinka's daughter wears, but shorts so short they're just... little pieces of jean fabric sewn together. I know the message that's portrayed when these girls wear these shorts is not the message they necessarily want to be giving, but maybe the parents should have been paying more attention when they were shopping for their child. And when a t-shirt comes along that says: "I'm Too Pretty To Do Homework, So My Brother Has To Do It For Me" I get an awful feeling inside, because... really? Did anyone actually buy this? You're too pretty for homework? And your brother has to do it for you? Why is okay for boys to do homework? Oh, because girls aren't as smart? Is that story we're going with? What if the boys are OHMYGODCUTE like Bieber cute? Then are they also exempt from homework? Come on. REALLY? There are a million reasons why this shirt is offensive.

It was ridiculous when Abercrombie was selling padded bikini tops for young girls, and it is ridiculous that JC Penney was selling this t-shirt. A little more effort and thinking beforehand would have prevented this company from having to deal with the backlash of angry consumers today. If I was the mother of girls, I would never buy this shirt. I'm glad the shirt is no longer for sale.

A few points I want to make:

1. It is okay to be pretty AND smart. Not one OR the other. Just look at Cher in Clueless. She was pretty and smart! And it's okay to like make-up and the colour pink and to spend hours in the book store reading. You can be whatever you want to be. You are not defined by your looks or by your IQ score. Stand up for what you believe in.

2. Sexism exists for boys, too. I don't approve of how men are portrayed in advertising, for the most part. My husband cooks. My husband cleans. My husband reads books to our children before bedtime. My children are taught something new every day because my husband teaches them things, important things, about the world, our planet, history, nature. My husband cleans up the vomit every time one of our children get sick. My husband doesn't drink beer, ever. And he doesn't watch sports. I hate how my boys are already portrayed before they even have a chance to prove that they are not the "steroptypical" male. They're smart little boys, so smart is scares me, and I have no doubt they'll be able to cook and clean and go grocery shopping just as well anybody else, just as well as their father did. Why is it okay to make fun of the guys?

3. Don't support what you don't like. It's okay if you want to boycott JC Penney because of the ridiculously sexist t-shirt. However, I'd much sooner boycott a store like WalMart because they sell guns and bullets, and I am hard-core against guns. I made a 10 minute documentary on gun control when I was in college, and I learned some awful facts about guns, and who they kill. Hint: usually an innocent victim, usually in the home. We should stand up for what we believe in, and for what we are against. Keeping quiet never achieves anything.

What are your thougths on this t-shirt? Are we doing enough to try to stop stereotypical sexist ads that still exist? What more can we do?

Just wanted to add that I am featured on a fabulous blog today - Parenting by Dummies! I met this awesome blogger this year at the Moms Fashion File party at BlogHer in San Diego, and I LOVED her! (And have loved her blog for a long time, too!) Check out her What's In Your Closet feature with me!

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