Faith Hill braces and Helen Mirren pink hair: Parsing the fairy tale of beauty
Faith Hill braces and Helen Mirren pink hair? As a parent it makes you realize beauty is more a fairytale we tell our children and ourselves at every age.
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I had braces as a child. My mother, Parsons School of Design graduate and former Macy’s private label designer knew that beauty is highly prized and she wanted me to be a prize-winner. It didn’t work of course because no amount of bracing could overcome the genetics of Eastern Europe with Poland and Germany in the mix and living with a Grandma and Great Grandmother in the house who could cook a mean perogi and kielbasa dinner.Skip to next paragraph
Lisa Suhay, who has four sons at home in Norfolk, Va., is a children’s book author and founder of the Norfolk (Va.) Initiative for Chess Excellence (NICE) , a nonprofit organization serving at-risk youth via mentoring and teaching the game of chess for critical thinking and life strategies.
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I often look back and wonder what straightening my teeth really did for me as a person. The answer is, not much. However, they made my mom feel like she was being a good mom because society told her good mothers give their child every advantage; and for girls in the late 1960s that meant straight teeth.
Growing up around models with a mom who regularly starved, straightened, curled, bleached, dyed, and otherwise perfected and made-up her appearance daily, I still make the effort, despite knowing I am the plucky comic relief and not the princess stereotype.
Some mischievous little part of me wants to send Mom a picture of Mirren and see if I can’t tempt her into turning her already pixie-cut hair pink. At 82, still a size 6 at 5’2” with snow-white hair, I know she would rock it.
Personally, I was really happy when the new princess type, Miranda, emerged from the movie "Brave." Her hair’s a wreck, she ruins her gowns, detests fashion, and is a wicked good archer. Of course she does get her mother turned into a bear, but it turns into a great lesson in seeing other points of view. Still, if I were a little girl, I would probably still come away wishing I had Miranda’s china doll face, perfect nose, straight white teeth and tiny waist. I’m a gonner.
As I get closer to 50 I run harder, diet more vigorously, and try to color-away the gray in my hair while fretting over the white of my teeth. It’s exhausting. So much energy lavished on a fairytale curse we bestow thinking it’s a gift.
Still, I try to tell my mother the best gifts she gave me were when we planted tulips together in the yard, burned pancakes on a Sunday and when she made a window seat in my bedroom as a retreat where I could sit with an apple and my favorite book. She still feels she failed me because I look in a mirror and don’t see any magic there.
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Still, I know a happy ending is when our children know we love them, crooked teeth, chubby legs, messy hair, and all.