Pageants: The question is, why?

Can someone please, please tell me what the deal is with these things?

I can’t be the only one who thinks that six-year-olds plastered in make-up, and hair lacquered beyond belief, is disturbing? Because guys, it is.

All that prancing, wiggling, pouting and winking provocatively just turns my stomach. These children do not look cute; although let’s not be coy here, cuteness is not the intention. They are made up to look sexy. Those red, pouting lips and false eye-lashes are sending a message that is very messed-up and just plain wrong.

Little girls should be innocent until that innocence is taken away, by the world we live in and undeniable biology. They’ve got a whole, long life ahead of them to bow down to the pressures our society exerts on women. If you place these heavy, burdensome pressures on such slight shoulders, they will buckle under the weight, be sure of that.

Pageants teach children that they need to be the prettiest, or have the loveliest clothes to succeed. I guess some would argue that it is not just about looks, that the girls need to have a talent to be successful in a pageant, too. Hmmm….having seen some of these dubious ”talents”, I would have to disagree.

I might not mind pageants so much if they were just a bit of fun (all little girls love dress-up), but man; it’s far from that: it’s out-and-out war! You don’t get on the wrong side of a pageant mum, as they’d take a baseball bat to an opponent’s knees, or put chewing gum in their nearest competition’s hair, if they felt it would help their little Susie to win. And their parenting style is nothing short of brutal: I’ve seen mums that refuse to let their child sit down until they have got a dance move just right (but in the mum’s eyes, it is rarely right); I have also seen little girls with their hair teased, pulled and scraped so hard, that it has reduced them to tears. The price of beauty, huh? Well, this is a price that no child should ever have to pay.

I think you would be foolish to deny that pageant mums are living vicariously through their children: they are not doing it for the kids, whatever they might say. It’s as if their sole purpose in life is to make their child into the beautiful child they never were. And that is so terribly sad.

As mums, surely we need to teach our little girls that it isn’t all about how you look, and I shudder at the horrific repercussions of being raised to think that it is. These children are being set up to fail in the most dramatic fashion; these mums have an insatiable appetite for perfection, and we all know that perfection is never possible; especially in little girls who perhaps, just perhaps, want to be little girls.

So, to the pageant mums who are reading this, and possibly feel victimised or misjudged, let me ask you to do this:  take a long, hard look at your reasons for touting and flaunting your kids in pageants, and if any tiny part of you is doing it for you, then stop. If you are kidding yourself that she loves it, that it’s good for her, or that it teaches her valuable lessons, stop.

Actually, do you know what? Whatever your reasons, for goodness sake, just stop.

 

Here’s a newsflash…

…food that is high in fat makes you, well, FAT.

Nothing annoys or saddens me more than overweight children. Let’s get tough here: allowing your child to become over-weight is at best neglect, and at worst, where children are allowed to become clinically obese, it is child-abuse.

I am sick of hearing pathetic excuses from people about why their child is over-weight (or even worse, denying the fact). I have just read a post on a forum that had me shaking my head in disbelief: a lady was asking advice about how she could get her over-weight child to eat something healthy. She went on to say that her youngest looked ill, and it was probably because he never ate any fruit and vegetables (hey, no shit, Sherlock). She claimed that her kids always refused to eat anything healthy and that she couldn’t deal with the fight that ensued when she dished up something which wasn’t quite to their liking.

Hmm….yes, okay then. Give them food that is crap, just to save you an argument. Sounds good to me.

As parents, we take on a job that will push us to our very limits, try every ounce of patience and generally want to make us pull our hair out. We’ve all experienced picky eaters, refusal to eat and down-right horrific meal-times, but we don’t all lie down and give in to the demands of little people that really do not know any better.

If you want to eat and eat and eat food that is unhealthy, go ahead. But do not force that rubbish on innocent kids. Be the one in control. Be responsible. Be the parent. Most countries in the western world are in crisis, with more people over-weight than ever before. Gone are the days when people sued McDonalds for making them fat. Unless you live in a large, deep hole, you know  what is good for you and what is not. Don’t get me wrong: I am not a crazed salad-wielding, cabbage-crunching lunatic, I let my kids eat a whole host of junk food, but the most important thing is that they also eat healthy food – they eat a balanced diet.

So, parents, if you recognise yourself in any of my words: wise up. Quit making pathetic excuses and do the right thing: teach your kids how to eat sensibly.

You owe it to them.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum

I wrote this post for another blog a while ago, and while I totally agree with every sentiment I wrote, I apologise for sounding a bit shouty!

Hyperemesis, what?

Yeah, I know. A bit of a mouthful, eh?

Hyperemesis Gravidarum (let’s just shorten it to HG, shall we?) is kind of like morning sickness. Well, no, it isn’t kind of like morning sickness at all. Not even BAD morning sickness. It is so far removed from morning sickness that it shouldn’t even be used in the same sentence. Or paragraph. Or at all.

But, because so many people (even so-called medical “professionals”) don’t fully understand it, they like to slide it away into a box, neatly filed under morning sickness. Calling HG morning sickness is like saying that Hitler was a little intolerant at times. Yes, you vomit with both HG and morning sickness, but that is where the similarity ends.

Morning sickness is a natural reaction to hormones present during pregnancy. HG is an abnormal reaction. Morning sickness has usually ended by the 12th week. HG is just getting started then. Morning sickness means that you vomit once or twice, in the morning. HG means that you vomit constantly. All day, every day, until the very end.

In all fairness (I am trying to be fair here, as opposed to smashing the laptop in sheer frustration), I can kind of see why medical professionals fail to recognise the seriousness of the condition because it is kind of similar to morning sickness. But what I will NEVER understand is why so many people simply refuse to listen to women who repeatedly report just how ill they are. Women with HG are not drama-queens, they are not looking for attention and neither are they imagining it. All they want is to feel well and to enjoy the beauty that is carrying a baby inside their body. But they can’t. They have been robbed of that special time and that is a hard thing to accept. Even years after the pregnancy.

Awareness of the condition IS growing, albeit slowly. But women are still forced into terminations because their bodies can’t cope and babies are still dying because their mum’s body is so badly dehydrated and unable to sustain them. This is a serious condition that has far-reaching consequences if not treated properly.

It’s time the medical profession bucked their ideas up, got their heads out of their arses and began to take this seriously. It wasn’t so many years ago that HG was seen as psychosomatic, imagined illness caused by women not really wanting to be pregnant.

So, a few words of advice for anyone that has a friend or partner with HG: firstly, listen to her and believe her. She is NOT exaggerating, she really DOES feel that bad and yes, every single second of the day is nothing less than PURE torture. She needs your help and understanding, because living with HG is sometimes tough, so tough, that there are days when you really don’t want to live a second longer. That’s the truth about HG.

A hatred of noise…..

Well, this is exciting.

The first post, in a brand, spanking new blog!

Where to start? Well, why not with the reason for starting this blog: the realisation that at 46, I am still learning more about myself every day (often hard to accept for the girl who thought she knew everything at 17). I want to share my take on the world, including experiences, opinions and beliefs.

In the last six months, I have made two startling, and life-changing discoveries. The first was that I have something called Misophonia (the second I will save for another post). This is a very little- known condition (so much so that my spell check fails to recognise it), that is often described as a hatred of noise. I wouldn’t put it that simply; to me, it is fairly complex, and doesn’t only involve noise (peripheral movement, such as jiggling legs, is also a trigger for me, and many others). The cause is unknown, but it is classed as a neurological disorder. I am not going to explain it in detail, but here is a website that has more information: http://misophonia.com/symptoms-triggers/. The reactions in Misophonia sufferers are unique, and causes a fight or flight response. With me, it has usually been fight.

My earliest recollection of Misophonia was at around 12 years old, which is a common age for it to begin. I would (and still do, to some extend) become literally enraged by certain noises, such as my family eating crisps or apples (although this is not an exhaustive list). I would lose my temper, scream obscenities, throw things and just generally behave appallingly. It only happened with people very close to me (the external display of anger, that is; the triggers were all around, but I managed to control my reaction). At that young age, I never thought to remove myself from the situation, and would just stay and shout; I would literally shake with rage. My mum’s reaction was just to condescendingly state that it was okay for me to make a noise eating, but not for them; therefore, I always assumed that it was because I was an intolerant, nasty, and aggressive piece of work. Although it has always triggered anger, I never really associated the noise with the anger, if that makes any sense? Of course, I knew the noise had made me angry, but I think I just believed that I was an angry person who just so happened to be annoyed by noises.

However, everything changed a few months ago. By chance, I stumbled upon a link to a Misophonia website, and for the first time, I discovered that not only was there a name for the emotions and reactions I experienced, but that I was not alone. There were thousands (actually, an infinite amount) of people just like me. The realisation hit me extremely hard. At first, I cried at the realisation that other people felt the same way as me, and that I wasn’t evil and intolerant. And then I cried for the 30-odd wasted years I had punished myself; guiltily recalling events over and over again, where I had screamed at my mum, when she had done nothing wrong. And I also cried with absolute, abject relief: this was NOT my fault; this was out of my control; this was down to a neurological disturbance. It was tough to realise, but so liberating at the same time.

So, how does Misophonia affect the 46-year-old adult? Well, before realising there was a name for what I struggled with, it was hard. Do you know what it feels like to scream at someone because they are making a noise eating? To see the look of hurt and confusion in someone’s eyes? It tears at your soul; that’s for sure. Over the years, it has eased somewhat, but looking back; it has always played a huge, omnipotent part in my life. Knowing it is Misophonia helps beyond words; now, I am more able to remove myself from a potentially fraught situation before it spirals out of control, and I am able to tell my family when I am in the early stages of being triggered. Saying it out loud is therapeutic; it’s like saying, “I can feel it approaching, but that’s okay; this is a normal reaction, and I can control it”. Of course, I can only control it to a certain extent, but acknowledging it (and understanding that my reaction doesn’t make me a bad person), really helps.

So, I’m getting there. Not all picket fences and roses, but getting there. I still feel guilty, though. I took my children to the cinema last week, and they had popcorn (just the thought of this is hell for Misophonia sufferers). I mentioned to my nine-year-old a couple of times that he was crunching, and moving the popcorn around loudly, but I felt bad. I didn’t want to spoil his fun, so I stuck my fingers in my ears, thinking he wouldn’t see me. I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder, and he whispered “sorry”. I asked him what he was sorry for, and he said, “that my noise is making you sad”. Wow, that’s hard to hear. It’s hard to know your behaviour is having that kind of effect on your children. I’ve talked to them about Misophonia, and I think that on a basic level, they get it, but kids this age often blame themselves for things, and I don’t ever want them to believe that they are doing something wrong. This is MY problem, and it hurts to land it at their feet.

As well as the obvious relief I feel, recognising I have Misophonia has also brought embarrassment. It is something that many sufferers are not willing to share with others. It kind of sounds silly in your own head to react in such a violent way to noise, so it is understandable that non-sufferers are just not able to grasp it. There has been a fair amount of exposure lately, with several newspaper articles being written. Sadly, a lot of negativity and ridicule have arisen from it. The main reason for this is that most people feel annoyed by crunching, eating with a mouth wide open, sneezing and the like. What they are failing to understand is that Misophonia sufferers do not feel slightly irritated. They feel agitation, anxiety, rage and often fear that at any minute, they could completely lose control. It’s scary and sad to feel like that. Sadly, in today’s society, if you don’t understand something, the easiest thing is to belittle it. That said, I often feel foolish when explaining to others that I have Misophonia. It’s like I am a fraud, trying to make up a disorder to cover my intolerance. Therefore, I guess it is no surprise that other people are unable to accept it.

Hopefully, one day they will truly know what causes it, rather than speculation and guesswork, which is all they have now. Perhaps, they may even find a cure. However, for now, all I feel is gratitude for being able to put a name my reactions, and to understand myself just a bit better; it makes me go a little easier on myself, which is always a bonus!