New Moon Gathering

It’s 12:46am and I should be fast asleep, but I am up late working on a video for a doula client, and there is bread rising, so I thought I would stay up and write about the amazing New Moon Gathering I went to last weekend.

First, I’ll tell you this: I am a little nervous you are going to judge me when you read this post. Here are the things I am worried you will think:

“Kate’s a weirdo.”

“Kate moved to LA and became a feminist hippy.”

“Kate’s gone off the deep end.”

And mostly I am afraid you are going to roll your eyes.

Well, now that I’ve put it out there, I guess it’s not the worst thing in the world if those things happen.  I AM weird sometimes, I have always been a feminist AND a bit of hippy, and, no, I haven’t gone off the deep end.  Also, you are at your computer and I am at mine, so go ahead and roll those eyes if you wanna!

My history with female friends is a short one and a simple one: I have always had a very small group of them. I made friends in college, but still kept a close circle. In my adult life, those ladies that I was very close with in grade school, high school, college and post college, I am still close to many of them. Yes, of course I made more girl friends as I grew up, but I wasn’t always comfortable at all female gatherings. Bachelorette parties gave me anxiety. The Girls Night I had on a regular basis in Chicago contained four of us, and I liked it that way. I was mostly friends with boys because the aforementioned judgement seems to be more prevalent in groups of girls. And that makes me feel yucky.

So when my friend Monica suggested we go to a New Moon Gathering, I was interested because it’s the Taurus New Moon (and that’s me!), but a little nervous that we might have to dance around a fire and drink a strange Kool Aid. (Spoiler Alert: that’s not what happens)

The history of moon gatherings dates back to our Native American roots. They began in the “red tent” and were a time for women to gather and celebrate their power.

“When a woman is having her moon, her blood is flowing, and this blood is full of mysterious powers that are related to childbearing. At this time, she is particularly powerful…a woman’s power and a man’s are opposites, not in a necessarily bad way, but in a good way. Because of the power a woman has during this time, it is best that, out of respect for her men and for their medicinal trinkets and beliefs, she stay away from them. During this time, the men would often build a small lodge for the woman while other female relatives serve on her needs.”- The Spirit of the Indian Woman by Judith Fitzgerald

Over time, women were taught that their periods were dirty and encouraged to hide them away and not permitted to gather. From a young age many of us are given all sorts of products to hide our periods, keep it clean, and given methods to stop it all together. All of this is bothersome to me now because I have learned a heck of a lot since I got my first period at age 11 thankyouverymuch, but for most of my life I thought that was all normal.

A modern day New Moon Gathering is a time to be with women during the new moon, and to nurture our friendships and collective power.

When Monica discovered that she could not go with me to the moon gathering, I was nervous. I really wanted to go, but not sure I wanted to go by myself. I wouldn’t know anyone, and it was in Ojai (which is an hour and a half north), and I don’t usually go to things where I don’t know anyone. But I REALLY wanted to go…and so I did!

Here is the description about this new moon.  I hope you enjoy it and take some time to honor yourself!  I’ll write more about the actual gathering at another time.

Taurus New Moon~ Body (and Earth) as Temple

From the moment the full moon in Libra rose last week until the June 6th transit with the sun, Venus is holding the celestial spotlight.

The month of May, mid-spring, has always been center stage for the sensual Goddess, ruling her most comfortable sign, fixed earth Taurus. The sign of the bull maintains and venerates the physical. The body, the senses, the flowers, trees, animals, anything that is visceral and can be touched, smelled and tasted awakens the earth mother. This is the cycle of fertility for all living beings and fecundity has been celebrated by humans for millenia. Sadly, our current society (meaning the last few thousand years) has overall been more disconnected from the power of life and nature than any culture before; and that separation does not seem to be creating more love, joy and peace in the world, does it?

Venus is getting a lot of attention this year, not only with her usual April full moon cameo and regular season of worship in May, she is also next to go retrograde and is an integral part of both the Mayan and Cherokee prophecies for 2012, which includes her completing an eight year solar transit when she crosses the sun on June 6th.

If I were to say there is just one thing we could collectively do to bring more harmony and balance in such chaotic times, it would be to make a regular practice of honoring Venus.

Like, NOW.

The Taurus new moon is Saturday April 21st, and precedes another intense eclipse cycle over the summer. That feels to me like Venus giving us a chance to ground through sweet physical practices, surround ourselves with the people, places and things that bring beauty to our lives and sustain the mutable time ahead through gratitude, connection, community and love.

The concept that came to me as I admired Venus in the sky (as her planet self and as the energy behind the full moon) was the saying “my body is a temple.” I don’t know if that phrase came from the earth, sky or from within myself, but it could truly be said for all three, and that is my intention for this month and those that follow.

How would you treat yourself and the planet differently if you really believed they were temples? I mean, have you ever walked into a space and just wanted to fall to your knees and weep in reverence? That is my reaction to seeing a Red Wood or Sequoia, to standing at the ocean, climbing the red rocks of New Mexico or entering the cathedrals of Italy or Spain. I have always felt that “temples” can be made by hand or nature, as long as the intention upon entering is to worship. What temples have you honored in your time? How can you create that feeling in your own form and the places you call home?

Could you eat better? Maybe this month is the time to plant that garden of veggies and herbs, or find a farmer’s market. Have you been meaning to switch to natural in your cleaning, bathing, beauty or home products? Start researching your options. Have you wanted to find a more joyful community? Get into massage, or crafting? There are groups all over this city! What actions can you take to bring more beauty into your life, and into the world around you? I have friends working in community gardens, meeting monthly to align their chakras, doing book clubs, planting trees, hiking in groups, biking to work together, taking time for the spa, learning to cook, all of these and more are Taurus tasks!

Another simple way to connect with Venus is to paint, print or purchase an image of the love goddess in one of her many forms (Venus, Ishtar, Inanna, Astarte, Aphrodite, Hathor, Isis, Lakshmi) and either place it on your mirror, altar or even make an altar just for her. Offer her sweets and flowers and ask for her blessings through this time.

Venus will be retrograde for part of her reign, and that means cleaning up old wounds, particularly around relationships, body issues, environment and abundance. This is the time to put your focus on the temple around you and within you, tidy it up, decorate and celebrate!


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The view on one side of Sky Ranch

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The view from the other side of Sky Ranch.

April 27, 2012. Tags: , , . Friendship, LA, Wellness. 1 comment.

First Home Birth

Wednesday night I attended my first home birth as a doula, and something strange happened.  Strange for me at least.

Here it is:  I didn’t cry.

I generally cry at births, and sometimes even cry just talking about birth.  I find it a very moving and powerful experience, even though I am not the one giving birth.

But at this home birth, which was only my fourth birth overall, so it’s not as if this is “old hat” or something, instead of my brain going “OMG- THIS IS AMAZING!!  I AM GOING TO BURST WITH THE WONDER OF IT ALL!!!!” my brain went , “OMG- THIS IS AMAZING” and then immediately followed up with, “Oh yeah…duh…this is how it’s supposed to be…and how it’s been for hundreds of years.  Cool.”

Here’s the set up:

My client was having baby number two and although she had a great birth in the hospital for baby number one, she didn’t like the postpartum care.  All the machines and florescent lights, and the people coming in every two hours to wake you up and ask, “how are you doing?” when you were doing perfectly fine until they woke you up…it just wasn’t for her.  So she hired a midwife, and then hired me, and off she went!  She called me Wednesday night around 7pm and asked me to come over.  Her labor had started Saturday, but she had her bloody show earlier in the day and things had progressed.  So I made my way over and on a crisp night with a beautiful moon, we ventured out to take a walk up and down the street to kick it into high gear.  And boy did that work!  We started our walk at 8:15 and baby was out by 11pm!

About 10 minutes after we returned from our walk, mama’s water broke and things flew from there.  She went into herself, found her primal side, and on all fours in her bedroom, in the presence of her husband, midwife, midwives assistant, and her doula (aka: me), she pushed her perfect 8lb 8 oz daughter out.

And then she climbed into bed with her baby.

And baby latched on.

And mama ate a cheese stick.

(Other things happened in between and while all this was going on, but it was really that simple).

And today, in glow of the days after, it is the cheese stick eating, and the being in her own bed with her beautiful baby laying between her and her supportive husband, that is making my brain burst with the wonder of it all.

Home birth is not for everyone, and I don’t advocate it as something all women should do.  But if you are at all curious, or feel at all inclined to birth your baby at home, or a non-hospital setting, I implore you to do some research.  Visit a birth center and definitely interview some midwives.  If you live in the LA area, Davi Khalsa does a great talk called “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Home Birth” at Bini Birth.

**This post was shared with the permission of the couple**

November 13, 2011. Birth, Doula Stuff, LA. Leave a comment.

List #21

Things I Love About Fall

In Los Angeles

  • Rain.  We don’t get much, so it’s precious when it does happen.
  • The way people bundle up when it’s only 50 degrees out.  As if they even KNOW what cold is…HA!
  • Drinking warm drinks.  I almost never want to drink warm drinks.  Something about it does not agree with my (Pitta) body, so I generally opt for my froo-froo drinks over ice and then I actually drink them!  It’s also difficult to drink a hot drink in very cold climates (like Chicago) because it’s too cold to even take your hand out of the glove to hold the cup!  Here in LA, it’s not too cold, and drinking warm drinks actually feels good.
  • Wearing puffy vests.  I had always wanted a puffy vest, but in Chicago, it seemed ridiculous to wear one!  If I needed to be warm, I needed ALL of me to be warm- even my arms.  But here in LA, it usually perfect vest weather, so I bought one and love it!  It’s white, so I look like a marshmallow, but I don’t care.
  • Thanksgiving at Annie’s.  Annie hosts Orphan Thanksgiving and has about 20 people over to celebrate.  We are all out of towners and come together to create family.  It’s nice.  We all bring a dish and play ladder ball, and then a few rounds of Mafia in which there is too much yelling, but it’s fun all the same.  We all take turns talking or skyping with our families back home and then go around the table to say what we are grateful for.  Here are two recipes I like a lot:  Green Bean Casserole, Cranberry Sauce
  • Knowing that Christmas is coming and I’ll get to see my real family soon!  Being back in my beloved home state, seeing snow and hugging my family is so fantastic.  The fall weather lets my body know that those hugs are coming soon…soon.

In Chicago

  • The Smell!  There is just something so amazing about the way the air smells in the fall in Chicago.  Sometimes it’s leaves burning and I almost hyperventilate trying to take it all in because I love it so much.  Sometimes it’s just crisp air.  Whatever it is, it makes me feel so good inside.
  • The feeling of ducking into a warm bar when you’ve been in the chilly air. Followed by a cider or a beer- can’t beat it!
  • Watching holiday decorations go up on Michigan Ave.  Nuff said.
  • Crunching on leaves. The trees on Paulina Ave would turn amazing colors.  One tree I loved looked like it was set on fire- the bottom would be orange and it the top was red.
  • Cooking with squash. There is an abundance of squash in the Midwest this time of year, and I used to be annoyed that it was all we could get, but being in LA, it’s hard to find good squash!  They are so tiny here…
  • The fall progressive dinner.  When I first moved to the city, I got a job at a study abroad organization called IES.  I made some amazing friends there and after a time, many of us ended up living within a mile of one another (except Joe who is a Northist).  I came up with the idea of doing a Progressive Dinner whereby we each picked a course and we’d move from apartment to apartment eating and drinking.  Ryan would carry a boom box (aka: bucket) and we usually ended up at Dan and Daniella’s for dessert by the fire pit.  We eventually had so many people on the route that every other stop was a “drink” stop.  The fall progressive was my favorite because it was fun to bundle up, tromp through streets with travel cups filled with Peppermint Paddies, and arrive at the next house where we would peel off our jackets, scarves and hats to enjoy another amazing, warm dish.  I treasure those times and feel so grateful to those buddies.

November 12, 2011. 52 lists, 52 weeks, family, Food, LA, Recipes. 1 comment.

Meeting Up

“Meet yourself where you are.” 

Have you heard that phrase before?  Until recently, I never had, so it’s a concept I enjoy wrapping my brain around.  I have this image of walking down the street, seeing myself at a corner, and going up to myself and linking arms.  Sometimes the corner is a café, and sometimes the arm link is a hug.  Other times the corner is the edge of a cliff and the hug is a shove.  It’s never the same image, but it always makes me smile (even when I am pushing myself off a cliff).

It’s not an easy thing to do, this meeting self where self is, especially for someone like me who has really specific goals and high expectations for self.  Why can’t “I” meet “ME” where “I” AM?  Does that make any sense?  Of course not.

One major internal struggle I have is whether or not I will do any acting again.  Now, I know that I cannot actually answer this question, and I don’t really HAVE to because it is an art and I believe it is always available to me.  (Hollywood producers that think women over 35 are “old” will disagree with me, but they are lame and I wouldn’t want to work with them now, or over 35.  So there).

But being that I moved out to LA to pursue a career in Acting, the fact that I am NOT doing that, despite finding a career that fills me up with joy and feels RIGHT, it does feel like a failure.  But like that saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” couldn’t failure also be in the eye of the beholder?  Just because someone may look at my path and say, “Oh man, Kate has totally failed as an actor” if I do not feel that way, does it mean I failed?  If a tree falls in the woods….What is the sound of one hand clapping?  (Another awesome image!)

So, in times of  feeling like a “failure,” I ask myself this question: Do I want to succeed at making sure other people think I am a success, or do I want to actually succeed?  The answer is obvious, but until I can remind myself of the difference, I actually get caught up in the feelings of failure.

I am not a religious person, but I do believe that things happen for a reason.  Moving to LA was not something we would have EVER done if the right situation hadn’t come up.  And if you asked me 1 year ago if that particular situation was “the right one” I would have told you without hesitation “NO.”  I might have even told you, in a moment of extreme drama, that those circumstances ruined my life.  But that would have been a lie, and the reality is that those circumstances led me to where I am today.  And today I am on a path to something I NEVER would have found back in Chicago.  I miss home SO MUCH.  I can see our lovely little Andersonville apartment in my mind and hear the hum of the radiator and my eyes fill up with tears because I miss it so much- even 1.5 years later!

BUT, if I am doing the hard work of “meeting myself where I am,” I am embracing that self, and letting her cry when she misses Chicago.  I am giving her space when she wants to rage against the frustration of not knowing where the path is going and why.  And, most of all, I am not EVER judging her when she changes her mind- about anything- because that is her prerogative.

And it’s yours too.

So make a plan to meet your “self” at a cozy cafe and hug it all out.  Everything feels better after a good hug, right?  Right.

Where I was

Where I am now

August 28, 2011. Tags: , , , , . Hollywood, Home, LA. 2 comments.

I Found the Most Raddest Doctor on the Planet

And her name is Deborah Gleisner.

And she is a Naturopathic Doctor.

And I love her.

What is a Naturopathic Doctor?  Besides, awesome, she (or he) is a doctor with an integrative approach to healthcare that takes the whole body into consideration to promote healing, disease prevention and overall wellness.  She gave me a binder with information and that is a condensed version of what it says.

The bullet points on page one say this about their practice:

  • First Do No Harm
  • Support the Body’s Inherent Ability to Heal
  • Identify and Treat the Cause
  • The Doctor as Teacher
  • Treat the Whole Person
  • Emphasize Prevention

For me, this is GOLD.

Not only is Dr. Gleisner a Naturopathic Doctor, but she is also a Midwife who does home birth, AND she does pediatric care!  So not only can I go to her for my general wellness, but also she can deliver my babies AT HOME, and then treat my babies when they need it!

Our visit was everything I have ever wanted in a visit: an hour of uninterrupted time where we talk about the 7-page questionnaire that I filled out (and actually enjoyed doing so) and then I had my exam.  She made suggestions, filled in gaps of information where I had them, and made me feel comfortable to talk about anything with her.  Now, I should say this: I really care about my health and love being in tune with my body. I also avoid doctors because I don’t like NOT being listened to, and I don’t want to put chemicals in or on my body.  She really listened to what I had to say, explained everything she was doing and why she was doing it, took my worries into consideration, and then talked with me about how we could work together to handle them.

As a part time Vegan, full time Vegetarian, we talked in length about my diet and how it will affect my ability to carry a baby, and be healthy in general.  She drew some blood to check my iron stores, vitamin D and wanted to see if I am anemic.  I got the results back today: my iron stores are low, as is my vitamin D, but I am not anemic- yay!  And her suggestions?  That I eat iron rich foods, get on an iron supplement if I like, and take some vitamin D drops.  She educated me about the difference in supplements, and in her handy binder there is tons of great information on promoting health through food, rest, and activity.

And she emails!

Overall, I feel really taken care of, and that was only the first visit.  I actually look forward to seeing her again, although I hope it’s only under positive circumstances.

If you are in the LA area and are looking for a great doctor, please call her.  She is in Hollywood now, but moving her office to Marina Del Rey sometime soon.

Dr. Deborah Gleisner

dragonflynaturalhealth.com

We drive the same car =)

August 26, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , . Birth, LA. 3 comments.

List #10 (a week late)

Last week was strangely busy, yet unproductive.  I was craving personal contact, and so every time I sat down at my computer, it felt like the enemy- the opposite of the thing I wanted.  So I didn’t get much done, and I certainly didn’t blog.

So, I planned to post both lists 10 and 11 together in one post, but it would be super duper long, and you’d probably get sick of reading.

List #10: My 10 Favorite Spaces and Places (in no particular order)

(this list took me some time because I am really sentimental and I was worried this would make me homesick.  It did, but I got through it)

1.  In bed with my husband  Here are a list of my favorite beds: fancy hotel beds (specifically: the bed at The Conrad Hotel), the first bed we every bought together (a queen Sealy with a pillow top), the bed in Annie’s guest bedroom, and the guest bed at my In Law’s house.  Comfort is really important- more important than space.  We had a full size bed for most of our relationship and I used to joke that we were going to downgrade to a twin so we HAD to snuggle.  Moving up to a Queen changed my mind about that…it’s awesome!

2The Dumich kitchen table  Kate (Dumich) Sollmann has been my best friend since we were 10 years old and her family took me in as one of their own.  Both of my parents worked outside the house, so I spent many days and nights over at the Dumich house, sitting around the kitchen table.  It’s nothing fancy- just a solid wood table with plenty of seating- but it is a lovely, safe place to be.  The kitchen has a half wall that allows you to see into the living room so that everyone can talk and listen.  I always admired the way their family would talk over dinner.  No topic seemed off limits and the debates were always exciting.  I have shared laughter and tears at that table; Kate wrote out all my wedding place cards at that table; together we wrote out all of Amy’s wedding place cards at that table!  It has seen a lot and has been there for me in the same way that family has always been there for me- solid, simple, and not requiring a lot of fuss. 

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Kate working on Amy's placecards (what a good friend!)

3.  “The Middle of Nowhere”  When Buck and I stated dating at ISU, there weren’t a TON of options for fun.  We often had to make our own.  On stormy days, we hoped in his car and drove out to the fields to watch.  One day we found this concrete slab on the side of a remote country road.  We jumped out and watched the sunset and stayed up late talking and watching the stars.  We called it “The Middle of Nowhere” and would return to it when we needed some space.  It scared the crap out of me to be in the middle of a field at night, but I think that’s just the city girl in me who has watched too many slasher movies…

4.  Independent coffee shops  Some favorites: Aroma Coffee and Tea Company, Joey’s Cafe, Groundwork Coffee, Intelligentsia.  Okay, I know that last one is not independent, but I love their brew so much…and their cafe’s are always so cool and clean.

5.  The Ostello della Pace  translates to Peace Hostel in Italian, and I stayed there when I backpacked through Italy in 2003.  Located in Assissi, it’s one of my favorite places on this planet for one really simple reason: it was the first time I was fully living in the moment.  I found myself there after meeting a girl (Kristen from Boston) during my travels and we took a train out.  The hostel is made of stone and brick and has really comfortable, affordable rooms.  Our first night there, a few other travelers showed up (Colin from Canada and another guy from Spain), as well as an Italian scouting troop made up of roughly 20 eight year old kids (both boys and girls).  We all became friends and stayed up until the wee hours singing and dancing around a campfire with the scouting troop.  They sang camp songs in Italian and I had no idea what they were saying, but it was bliss.  There was a song about a “kiss train” and all the little boys kissed my cheeks.  I was 21 and alive in my skin for what felt like the first time.  It was very powerful.

6.  Craft rooms  I love all craft rooms.  They make me feel inspired.  Here is a picture of mine:
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7.  The radiator in the living room at The Paulina Palace #2A.  Buck and I moved up to Chicago after I graduated and found our perfect apartment in Andersonville.  Buck says I have rose colored glasses now that we don’t live there anymore, but I really did love that place.  In the living room, there is a long radiator, and during the summer months when it was off, I would perch on it and read, or just look out the window onto Paulina Street.  When Buck proposed to me, I was sitting on that radiator (until I tackled him on the floor after saying yes!), and when I got the call that I had been hired to my dream job, I was sitting on that radiator.  It wasn’t super comfortable to sit on, but it was always comforting to be there. 

8.  The Start and Finish lines at a marathon The Chicago Marathon.  The Chicago Marathon changed my life so many times.  It is so empowering to finish a marathon, and if you ever think you may want to do one, call me.  I truly believe that anyone can do it (yes, even you who says “but I only run if someone is chasing me!”) and I love talking about it.  The start and finish lines of the Chicago Marathon in particular are amazing.  When you are at the start line in Chicagoit’s still pretty dark out, the city lights are twinkling, they play inspiring music, and then the National Anthem, and you and the 30,000 runners around you share in the excitement of beginning a race.  The finish line has stands filled with people and a balloon arch and you know that once you cross it, there are likely going to be donuts on the other side.  And you are going to eat them.  A LOT of them.  Cuz you earned it. 

9.  The ocean  I have always been inspired by and terrified of the ocean.  When I am feeling overwhelmed, I like to drive out to the beach (it’s nice that I can do that now that I live in California!) and remind myself that the world is very big and my problems do not have to be. 

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10.  CW301  CW stands for Centennial West and 301 is a room in that building, which is located on the campus of Illinois Sate University.  This room housed my first college Acting class (with Kim Pereira), many rehearsals for the Improv Mafia, some Mafia shows, rehearsals for The House of Blue Leaves (one of my favorite roles), and it’s the room I sat outside of listening to Buck rehearse for a play, and where I allowed myself to admit that I loved him.  We weren’t dating yet, you see, and things would be complicated with our group of friends if we did get together.  I would take a walk to the building at night and sit outside on a bench to listen to him in rehearsal and dream about a day when he would tell me he loved me too.  Lucky for me, that day came and we’ve been telling each other that for over 10 years now.

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Mafia misfits in CW301 circa 2005

August 15, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , . 52 lists, 52 weeks, Crafts, Friendship, Home, Husband, LA, sisters. 1 comment.

Beauty CULTure Exhibit

If you are in the LA area, or coming to visit me before November, please check out the Beauty CULTure exhibit going on at the Annenberg Space for Photography.   It’s free and you can park at the Century City mall for free too.

When Angela was in town last week, visiting this space was on her list of things to do.  I love going to museums with Angela because she is super art smart and I learn so much from her.

The space is small enough for you to get through and see everything in thirty minutes or less, but you should stay for the short film they show.

Here’s a little ditty about the exhibit:

Like most, I have struggled with body image issues and disordered eating, and while it’s no longer something that haunts me, I found that this exhibit really brought some STUFF up for me.  I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we went to the exhibit with baby Ilyse.

There is a room off of the exhibit where you can take a photo of your face and do silly photoshop type stuff to it (add crazy hair, change your eyes, etc), and while Angela played around with it, I held Ilyse.  Looking at her perfect skin, her beautiful eyes, her gummy, wonderful smile made me melt, and I just burst into tears wondering how anyone- even her super smart and amazing parents- can protect her from a world that wants girls to believe that they are not beautiful until xyz products are purchased and their waist is xyz small?  I don’t have kids yet, but I can tell you that for a long time I have feared having girls in particular.  Maybe poor body image is contagious…maybe disordered eating is genetic…maybe there isn’t a way to protect them…I just don’t know that I have the ability to do it, and that scares me.

Spending time talking all of this out with Clayton and Angela, I feel certain that Ilyse is going to grow up to be smart and beautiful and funny- just like her folks.  Will she face pressure from society to look a certain way?  Yes.  Will she be able to come home and talk it out with her family?  Yes.  Will that make a difference?  The biggest.

This exhibit shines a light on the issues, but none of it is new information.  What I did like about it is that it gives us an opportunity to see the progression, the repetition, and the sham of the beauty culture in America, and hopefully the conversation continues.

July 19, 2011. Tags: , , , . LA. Leave a comment.