Tag Archives: girls

Girls and the Lure of Bohemia

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Bohemianism is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people, with few permanent ties, involving musical, artistic or literary pursuits. In this context, Bohemians can be wanderers, adventurers, or vagabonds. Per Wikipedia.

Bohemia, the garrets, art. I touched on this in the last post, and thanks for the very thoughtful responses. I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole subject of “lady bloggers.” My end takeaway right now is: we need the blogging niches for the community and the term “lady” is offensive for all sorts of reasons: I agree with you all about that. But I am still convinced that there have been some great pieces of writing about many subjects other than ALI on ALI blogs which, if the author agreed to share them to the world at large, (and this point is a MAJOR IF, I feel you on not wanting something to go viral because of the privacy of your blogs) deserve greater circulation.

Maybe there IS a blogging platform out there that allows these pieces to have greater viewing and I am missing it. BlogHer is a syndication platform with curated content, and actually those two pieces I mentioned were “Voices of the Year,” which is how they went viral.

SOOOO, “Girls.” I have had a whiplash of emotions around the series. First, jealousy that the creator was 24 when she landed an HBO show contract!! Irritation that Judd “nerdy guys should only date hot girls” Apatow was involved. Hesitation about the way four women would once again be stereotyped by four specific characters. Concern that twenty-something women were calling themselves “Girls.”

I have thoroughly enjoyed the show. And am totally bummed out it’s over.

The character of Hannah, the creation of the story’s main actress and writer Lena Dunham, is someone I haven’t seen before on film. And it’s not just her body type or the way she’s painfully out there in ALL scenes.

She’s a real female Bohemian. And I can’t say that I have seen this sort of portrayal previously. I HAVE seen the romantic, tragic beautiful muse character of Bohemia-land. (See Mimi in La Boheme or her modern counterpart Mimi Marquez in Rent or even Jessa, Hannah’s BFF.) But a female whose art is the most important facet of her life, whose main goal is to live a fascinating life so she can write about it?

It’s a unique perspective for me, the person who lived and grew up with parents who were writers, because I firmly rejected that path due to the (relative) financial hardships that accompanied that life. I determined that I wanted a life of monetary ease, and quickly set about achieving that through my career and by working hard and pursuing the usual goals: love, marriage, house, kids.

The writers and artists I encountered when I lived and worked in London and San Francisco mostly fit into the category of Trustafarians. They didn’t need to worry about their financial concerns, so they could choose a life pursuing painting, fashion or music. A few of them repelled me with their rejection of the “American Dream”: it’s so easy to put down the “dorks” who work hard as lawyers or PR people or accountants when you don’t have to worry about paying rent…

That’s why Hannah is so compelling to me: her parents cut her off financially in the first episode and she has to scramble to finance her dream of being a writer. She gets fired from her salary-free internship at a publishing house when she dares to ask to be paid. (Her boss explains he gets hundreds of requests to work for him for free everyday.) So we see her flail through a series of crappy jobs in her attempt to, well, support herself.

Most striking of all: SPOILER!!!
She basically terminates her relationship with the guy she chases the whole season because it gets “too serious.” Because it might interfere with her attempts to live in this authentic way.

I found myself cheering her on, now, as a 39 year old, in the final wordless scene as she sits on a beach and calmly eats a piece of cake, even after her life has sort of imploded by everyone’s standards. I am proud of her, in that scene. That she has remained true to herself. I know that had I watched that scene as a 24 year old, I would have been appalled and scared for her future.

Have you watched “Girls?” Did you enjoy it? Does living a life dedicated to pursuing your artistic dreams appeal to you? Or does it scare you?



Filed under Blogging, writing

Day 36: What To Do About the Girly Girls?

I finished Cinderella Ate My Daughter last night. I had already been fighting a battle to keep away the princess-y claptrap that seems to surround pre-school girls if possible. This has been an intuitive reaction on my part, with no real reason behind the emotion. My daughter seems to gravitate towards pink, tulle and flowers, which I do NOT push on her. The book was very alarming.

Before I begin my critique, here’s a pop quiz to take the pulse of how “girly” I am:

Which of the following are true?

A. I took ballet until I was 14.

B. In high school, I was a cheerleader.

C. On my wedding day, I walked down the aisle to the theme from “The Princess Bride”.

D. On my wedding day, I wore a tiara.

E. A and C.

F. All of the above.

G. None of the above.

I’ll let you know the answer at the bottom of the post.

Peggy Orenstein’s research comes to a few scary conclusions: today’s princess culture teaches young girls that being “the fairest of them all” is the most important trait, encourages young teens to be “hot” and “sexy” too early, and has led to the large increase in eating disorders of all stripes. Some pretty serious accusations. Apparently, most young girls naturally need to define themselves as female, and the Disney princess gear allows them the chance to do this, but the gear is really bad for them.

She doesn’t really provide any solutions or alternatives to counter this culture, other than “say no” to your daughter when she asks for the Sleeping Beauty Manicure/Pedicure Station. Which I already do. And also, to tell her she’s beautiful when she’s doing hard work or pursuing an athletic activity, not when she’s wearing a pretty dress or has her hair done.

I had mentioned that one thing I liked about the pioneer, stoic culture of the mid 1800s was that they valued in appearance stoutness and the ability of the physical body to do hard work. If you were thin, you were to be avoided as a spouse because you were probably sickly.

So I guess I should encourage my daughter to appreciate what her body can DO and not what it looks like.

Does anyone have any other ideas about girly girls? Because I’m afraid the answer to my quiz is F. I am a girly girl myself. I hated sports, and dance was the only activity I was good at. I planned my wedding when I was 5. My mom, a tap-dancer and high-school cheerleader herself, discouraged the ultra-feminine. Barbie was not allowed, and sports were encouraged. It didn’t work. Is my daughter destined to be a girly-girl? How do I help her avoid the traps associated with such things, if so?


Filed under Discovering joy, Family, Fear