Save the Hero

I’ve always been a big believer in picking oneself up after a tough time, brushing oneself off and moving forward. 

It’s why I keep applying at newspapers. It’s why I ask for feedback about articles. It’s why I thank people for criticism and try to grow. Even if life knocks me on my ass, I can come out of it stronger. 

Sometimes that includes when I literally fall on my ass. 

For those of you that are new to the party, I love me some crossfit. I’ve been training and preparing for the 2017 Crossfit Open. It’ll start this week and I’ll get to push myself and really focus on getting stronger. I’ll also get to know my fellow gym members. It’s gonna be great. 


But sometimes I get cocky. I think I’m more bad ass than I am and then bad things happen. This past week, we were practicing our chest to bar pull ups. I was feeling so bad ass, finally having mastered my beat swings. I was improving and I decided that I must be ready and instead of going up, I fell down,  flat on my ass. Instead of achieving my first pull up, I sustained a bruised and slightly fractured tailbone (but I DID scale that WOD AND FINISH IT. Yup, finished the workout with a mangled back. Be proud). Fortunately, my gym peeps are super cool, so my ego wasn’t fractured as well as my tailbone. Everyone was really quick to ask me how I was, even checking in the next day. I missed the brutal birthday WOD & was so disappointed, but I can’t lift when I can’t stand. Or sit. Or function. Doctor said sit out for six weeks,  & no standing for long periods of time, but I heard “with lots of yoga, you’ll be training again on Tuesday!” I’ve worked too hard to get Open ready, I am not missing it because of a (literal) pain in the ass.


Life doesn’t stop because you have an ouchie. I can’t take time off from work. I have to get everything ready for my transfer to my new mall, conviently located much closer to my house. I can’t stop training because I’m a little sore. I can’t not take the kids to the WWE Live event I bought them tickets for on my one day off this month because I’m sore. That’s not how life works. You gotta keep doing your thing, even if you feel like a pile of shit. 

I also learned that I am literally the only person who loves the Vaudevillians.

Part of self improvement means you’re gonna get knocked down a peg a time or two. You’re gonna have a shitty run. You’re gonna have a crap workout. Or, you’re going to literally fall on your ass. But you can always tell the people who are gonna succeed; they get back up. I could have just sat out the WOD, gone home, and decided that even though I’ve been doing it for two years, crossfit is too hard. But I thought about all of my fitness role models. Trish Stratus didn’t let a herniated disc in her back stop her from living an active life. She used yoga and homeopathy to get better. Nikki Bella didn’t let a broken neck stop her, she recovered, adjusted her style,  and got back in the ring. No one succeeds by staying down. So I got up, dusted myself off, and plugged along. 


You don’t just throw in the towel because you tried something once and it didn’t work. You get up and try again. If JK Rowling got rejected 12 times before a publisher accepted Harry Potter, then I can pitch a story to another newspaper, I can attempt that pull up. I can put together the project my boss tasked me with. I can continue to apply for media jobs and learn from each experience until I accomplish the goal. 

So, while I may not break any records, I’ll be going into the Crossfit Open, broken ass and all. I may feel like shit, but I’ll feel accomplished, not to mention I’ll have all of my rad Crossfit CCA peeps kicking ass with me. And I’ll continue to work on my various projects, and towards helping my new staff at my shiny new location, because life doesn’t stop, no matter how much you’re hurting. All you can do is press forward and reach your physical and professional goals. 

Attention 

Looks like we’ve got another edition of “what really grinds my gears.”

Tonight, why the continued use of slut shaming in WWE concerns female fans like me. 

Before I get started, let me explain that this isn’t a shot on male fans who defend the angle. Male fans have a different perspective than female fans about certain things & we are going to identify a different way. I remember laughing when Chris Jericho called Stephanie McMahon THAT name as a kid because I didn’t understand what women go through every day. They don’t either. This is about informing, not attacking. 


My daughters love WWE programming, but most notably the women. They own piles of merchandise, they waited in the snow for five hours hoping to meet Sasha Banks and Bayley. My youngest has a countdown to the next live event where she hopes to meet her idol Nikki Bella. But one of their favourite personalities is Lana. Yes, Lana. Two years ago, they squeaked with delight, pledging allegiance to mother Russia if it meant she would take selfies with them. They cheered for Lana through her husband Rusev’s match. Lana was the best thing ever to them. When I asked why, it was because Lana was strong, unafraid, when she spoke, people listened & she wasn’t just another girl, she was Rusev’s equal & he treated her that way.  Lana was amazing. 


For little girls, Lana represented more than just a Russian woman that was hot. She was an eloquent speaker, Rusev listened to her, respected her, and everyone cared what she had to say. Men had Paul Heyman, women had Lana. Even during that disastrous love triangle storyline, my girls would plead with Lana to get back in her business suits and tear everyone apart.

“Mommy! Take a picture of Lana!”

Recently, WWE started a storyline where resident loudmouth Enzo Amore flashed Lana. Instead of apologizing, he flirted with her. Then, he spent weeks telling her husband Rusev that Lana wants him, fantasizes about him because he’s just soooooo manly. The story played out where Lana decided to show Enzo how it felt to feel ashamed, helpless, victimized. She offered him a chance to come to her hotel room, stripped him down, and Rusev beat him up, which of course in wrestling land meant Big Cass, Enzo’s partner needed to settle things by having a match, not like, calling the cops. 

Last night when I got home from work, the PPV event Roadblock had already started and I asked my girls what I missed. They proceeded to tell me it was awful, the New Day lost! But my nine year old also said “Enzo called Lana a bunch of bad names and I don’t like him anymore.”

When I read an excerpt of what he said, I was floored. 


How is he the good guy? Is it just because the character of Lana is Russian and Rusev is Bulgarian?! How does any man saying that to another human make him the guy to cheer?!

I understand for male fans, it’s hard to understand, but for female fans, we deal with Enzo Amore’s three times a month. I recently just wrote about how a man harassed me for WEEKS because I said no. When I decline a date, I get “well you weren’t that hot anyway,” “you led me on by saying you liked video games and wrestling,” “I bet you’re a cheap hoe.” This is the behaviour that Enzo Amore is exhibiting. He was told no and he proceeded to tell Lana for weeks that she didn’t mean no, she wants him. When she set up what many women have fantasized about, flipping the script on their harasser, she was the villain. Rusev is defending his wife from a creep, how is he the villain? He seems like a great guy, trying to protect his wife. But in WWE land, he’s a jerk and Enzo is just trying to have fun.  Okay.  


This sort of thing needs to stop. I’m all for TV and people getting it’s make believe, but it’s obvious that WWE doesn’t know how to write for women. Women don’t see Enzo as a funny guy. To us, he’s every guy at the bar that stalked us to our car (after calling us fat & a slut to get high fives from his friends) because we said no. Girls are watching and being shown this behaviour is okay. That if a woman says no, she’s the bad guy. Women fans deserve better. 

In WWE land, women are consistently marginalized when they are accomplished. Big Cass’s real life girlfriend (& former manager) Carmella was recently written as a catty girl jealous of Nikki Bella. Carmella was written to say a promo where she credited all of Nikki’s success to her boyfriend John Cena. And male fans nodded in approval. Yes, this is what happened. My seven year old screamed at our TV to stop because Nikki worked so hard to come back and girls shouldn’t say this about other girls. But this is considered status quo. 
Yes, Nikki got her revenge, by beating Carmella and proving that she is the better athlete (to the delight of my seven year old), but the damage is done. Places like Reddit belittle Nikki, talking about how she keeps her job by opening her legs. No mention of how she worked for months to come back to a full time schedule after a debilitating neck injury that could have left her paralyzed. More attention is paid to her two second hip wiggle. Nikki’s marketability as a role model is questioned. My youngest will tell you Nikki is strong and brave and athletic and she & her sister Brie could best everyone because they outsmarted them. No mention of a hip wiggle. But lots of mention of Nikki’s determination, bravery, kindness, athleticism. Maybe we need to listen to kids. 

You can have great storytelling without women bringing each other down. Sasha Banks & Charlotte Flair have done it for months. They just wanted to be the best. Carmella & Nikki could have done the same without the tired mean girl is jealous schtick. Rusev could have been praised by the announce team for being a stand up guy, defending his wife from inappropriate behaviour and condemning the frat boy antics. But alas, WWE went another way. However, I do hope male fans understand that while to them, it’s a funny storyline, for female fans, it’s a daily reality for us, that our success will always be marginalized to build up a man, or that when we say no to creeps, we are somehow in the wrong. Maybe, WWE will listen to the fans (and Lana herself, who has been very vocal on Twitter that she finds this distasteful) and we will see Rusev and Lana be celebrated for standing up to the bullies. But more likely, we’ll see a new shirt emblazoned with one of the catch lines designed to humiliate her. 

We’ve Come so Far

It’s the International Day of the Girl & as the mom of three awesome girls who will someday change the world, I wanted to take a moment to give mad props to women all over the world who are kicking ass and taking names & spin kicking glass ceilings. 

As a woman who never had it easy growing up, and wanted more than to be Stepford Wife and mom, I find that the most important thing we can do for each other is build each other up. I have no time for catty bitches. I have no time for women who tear down other women (although I was told I was a bad feminist for THIS TWEET, so I apologize to Maryse Mizanin for clearly ruining her life). Women were meant to build each other up, so I wanted to take a moment to give kudos to 10 women who are breaking down barriers, starting conversations & changing history. 


1. Sophie Gregoire Trudeau. The wife of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has done so much for women, from advocating for better mental health, promoting body image, healthy living, and working to support every woman in her country, from the newest baby girl to the elderly woman watching TV from her home. Ms. Gregoire Trudeau doesn’t sit behind her man; she raises a family, she champions causes that mean something to her, she promotes Canadian designers. She is visible and vocal and wants to see Canada succeed. 


2. Clara Hughes. In addition to being one of the very few athletes to win medals at both the summer and winter Olympic Games, Ms. Hughes has championed erasing the stigma of mental illness, helping form Bell Let’s Talk Day, where the Canadian Telecom giant helps raise funds for Canadian Mental Health initiatives. Hughes speaks at universities and other events about her struggles with depression, encouraging others to seek help as well. 


3. Kesha. This year, Kesha took on the world when she sued her label and her producer Dr Luke to escape her contract. Citing physical and sexual abuse, Kesha stood up for herself, started an uncomfortable conversation about assault in the workplace, with many other musicians, including Kelly Clarkson & Taylor Swift supporting the singer. Despite a public smear campaign & control tactics, Kesha didn’t back down & fought for herself. 


4. Sasha Banks. Don’t call her Diva. Sasha dreamed of being the greatest wrestler (male or female) alive & she is doing it. From main eventing to breaking down glass ceilings as one of the first two women in history to compete in the Hell in a Cell structure, Sasha is showing that women can go just as hard as the men. Last night, WWE’s top hero Roman Reigns was in the ring & fans screamed “WE WANT SASHA” at the top of their lungs. Women are no longer the sideshow, they are the whole show. 


5. Trish Stratus. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one of the women who put some cracks in that glass ceiling that Sasha Banks is breaking. Trish Stratus changed the perception of women in wrestling; beautiful, brave, strong, determined. After retirement, she built a fitness empire (which has helped me with my own weight loss) & transitioned into motherhood with son Max & baby Stratus 2 on the way in 2017. But she has become an icon for healthy living & positive mindset in Canada. 


6. Taylor Swift. In addition to being the most successful artist probably on Earth right now (& the only woman to win Album of the Year at the Grammy’s twice), she demonstrates the value of women building up others. Whether it’s giving Kesha $250 thousand for her legal fees, to helping with Louisiana flood relief, Taylor’s generosity and kindness is a value that cannot be taught, but perhaps more could emulate. She handled Kim Kardashian West’s attempts to humiliate her with class, another trait that more people need to possess. Taylor reminds us that the more successful a woman is, the more humanity tries to break her. But she rises above with class and dignity.


7. Michelle Obama. The First Lady of the United States has demonstrated more class and poise under the strain of abusive slurs and hate than any other woman in history. But here she is, championing causes to help her fellow Americans be active, healthy. There she is, supporting her country after another mass shooting. Crossing party lines to give George Bush sr. a hug to thank him for championing the National Museum of African American History and Culture. But more importantly, she gave all of us the mom advice that will resonate for generations to come; “When they go low, we go high.” Thank you Mrs. Obama, for being a beacon of light in a sometimes very dark time in history. 


8. Jana Kramer. Jana Kramer is once again opening the conversation to the uncomfortable subject of domestic violence and its aftermath, which helped me be more honest about my own poor relationship choices & how I’m hoping I’ve turned it around this time with the new person I’m seeing. Her real talk about how the scars on our self esteem last long after the blows stop & we allow ourselves to be mistreated by other men until we finally stand up for ourselves and it’s okay to be a single mom. It’s okay to admit that we struggle. What matters is we get back up. Thanks Ms. Kramer for getting back up. 


9. Nikki Bella. Nikki Bella may not have broken the glass ceiling, but she chipped it a few times. The longest reigning Divas Champion fought through injuries and disrespect to help usher in a new era for women in sport. In addition, she and her sister Brie have become motivational speakers, seeking to empower women & build them up. Upon her return from a broken neck, Bella even said she didn’t care if she ever won another match, as long as she was building up the latest group of women. It’s that kind of encouraging attitude that makes me okay with my seven year old daughter believing that Nikki Bella is truly Fearless, and calling Nikki her hero. 


10. Hilary Clinton. I saved the biggest and most bad ass for last. In a little under a month, Hillary Clinton could be the President of the United freaking States! What?! That’s right; a woman, leading the free world. And she’s not leading in polls because she’s a woman; she’s leading because she’s the best possible candidate in the eyes of American voters. Her policies, her platform, that’s what’s resonating with voters. Her calm demeanour while her opponent attacks her personally, her marriage, her daughter. Despite all of this abuse, Mrs. Clinton stands tall and discusses her plan for America, because all that should matter is her ability to run the country. Mrs. Clinton has been dragged through the mud far more than any other candidate in history, but when you go through Hell, keep on going. She kept on going and when I wake up on November 9/16, I may get to show my daughters that the ultimate glass ceiling has been shattered when Hilary Clinton is named the 45th President of the United States of America. 

While you may not agree with my choices, because of politics or whatever, these are 10 women who are standing up for themselves, for other women, for their countries. These are the kinds of women we should look to; the women who are making history. The women who want to help others make history. The women who defend each other, their beliefs. I hope to be the kind of women who builds up other women, who encourages my own daughters to be anything they want. And thanks to the women above, they have a better chance to become whomever they want, because they’ve opened doors…or kicked them down. 

And finally, here are women in my own life who inspire me every single day. They build up other women, stand up for each other, support me, fight for their goals & demonstrate class in the darkest of moments. I aspire to be more like these women every day. 

You Want It Darker

AKA confessions of a former catty bitch. 

I was once a catty bitch. I mocked celebrity clothing choices, I criticized women wrestlers who were hired as models, I compared myself to other women. I talked about girls behind their back in high school, etc. But I was an insecure, jealous, girl. I was jealous of the popular girls in high school & in the workplace. I was completely jealous of Gwen Stefani’s seemingly perfect life. In 2011, I was jealous of Brie & Nikki Bella’s looks and success. It wasn’t until I grew up (figuratively) and found myself that I realized that I made these statements because I was jealous and insecure about myself. I was projecting my feelings of self loathing onto them. Now, I can look at Gwen Stefani and see a talented singer. I can look at Brie & Nikki Bella and see hard ass work & women who empower other women. I can respect women who wear what they want. You want to rock those booty shorts? Work! I love seeing other women get up and do their thing & kicking ass at life. But there is one thing that I cannot stand, and that is an unreformed catty bitch. 

Look at these women.

Recently, my daughter lost her Snapchat privileges. Not because of the reason you would think. It was because I found out that she was insulting other girls by calling them bitches. I want to raise strong women. Strong women don’t call their friends bitches. They don’t belittle each other. They work to build each other up. I won’t allow my daughters to treat their fellow human beings like crap, so until she could learn to speak with respect, she didn’t need social media. 

But I see an influx of memes on social media where women criticize other women. They mock each other for wearing makeup, their shorts, their clothes, their marital status, their looks, etc. And every time I see a woman call down another woman, I have only one question;

Like, come on ladies. We have to work twice as hard for half of the recognition and THIS is how you want to treat each other? With this kind of childish name calling?

Holy shit shut up

I mean, we live in a world where we are smashing through glass ceilings. Women can be the CEO of Fortune 500 companies. The most successful athlete in history is Serena Williams, a woman. We are watching a powerful, bad ass woman running for the presidency of the United States and we are still ridiculing each other for who we date, what we wear, whether or not we drank too much at the party & if we are telling the truth about domestic violence. Why are we continuing to belittle each other?


Why are we still having these conversations? It’s 20 freaking 16. So we really want to teach the next generation of women to be catty bitches? I know I don’t. Sorry, but I remember the girl fights in high school, the petty drama & how much I do not want to be part of that anymore, nor do I want my daughters to perpetuate it. And one thing I’ve learned from being a reformed catty bitch is that I’ve been so much more successful now that I’ve stopped worrying about what other women are wearing & doing. Now that I’m not trying to tear down other women, I’m focusing on how I can improve, not how to be better than that bitch. And by competing only with myself, I’m becoming better than I ever was. 


The biggest thing that women need to learn is by tearing each other down, we are giving men permission to tear us down. We all sit aghast at the things Donald Trump says about women, but then belittle a coworker in the next breath. By calling a woman a bitch or a slut, or questioning her qualifications to lead a country based on her pantsuit and not her resume, you are basically giving disgusting creatures like Trump the power to say the same thing about all women. When women tear each other apart, we are giving men permission to mistreat us, belittle our abilities, make vulgar and misogynistic statements about us. Every time we call a woman a slut, we are no better than people like Donald Trump. 

But mostly, you’re telling the world that you are insecure, petty, jealous & intimidated by the success of others. Why would you want to project that? When you belittle other women, you show people how small and petty you really are. Why not take that energy and put it into making you successful instead of putting down others all of the time? It just seems like a more constructive use of time. 

You would have so much more fun if you built your friends up

We have the power to be better, treat each other better, and empower each other. Why waste your time and energy bullying each other about things that don’t matter? Every time you put down a woman for her clothes, her hair, her choices & her makeup, whether she chooses a hijab or not, whether she chooses a traditional family or to reject societal norms, you are doing the equivalent of getting angry about someone putting the peppers you don’t like on the sandwich you aren’t going to eat. It’s not your sandwich. Instead of getting mad or calling them down, just eat your own damn sandwich and let the woman enjoy her peppers. 


If more women chose to build each other up, we would have more women leaders, more women heroes and more women making history. If we unite, there would be no glass ceilings, as we would have kicked them down decades ago. So, in a world where in five weeks we will (hopefully) see a strong, bad ass, intelligent woman elected the leader of the free world, let’s make a commitment to stand together to end the stereotype that all women hate each other and show future generations that women can empower each other, no matter what we are wearing, thinking, or doing. 

She Sets the City on Fire

As a WWE fan and a woman who prides herself on being a feminist, I often give WWE a bag of Hell when they get it wrong & turn their strong, powerful female characters into stereotypical catty bitches determined to undercut each other. Today, I’m going to give them props for getting it right.


Months ago, I lamented about the plight of Becky Lynch, WWE’s last true heroine. The Lass Kicker was betrayed by friends, humiliated & often left sobbing, while her fans sobbed with her. Many nights, my nine year old, decked out in her little goggles & Becky shirt, would ask why everyone would beat up Becky. Why did everything bad happen to Becky, why always Becky?


But the character of Becky Lynch didn’t become jaded or bitter. In fact, she would cut passionate promos about how she would finally win the big one & she’d do it the right way, with honour & integrity. Becky would tell her fans that all the struggles would be worth it & she would win the big one in a way that she could be proud of.

Fans waited for months and months, but last night, they finally got their wish. Becky Lynch finally won the big one & became the first ever WWE Smackdown Women’s Champion. The woman who was once molested by Ric Flair and tossed out of the ring sobbing like garbage FINALLY got to stand tall as the victor, making history to the delight of fans everywhere. 


Becky Lynch won & she won with integrity. She didn’t cheat or stab a friend in the back. She didn’t do anything duplicitous. She won with integrity & hard work & even though my two of my three daughters were rooting for different women (they were rooting for Nikki Bella & Alexa Bliss), they all jumped & screamed with joy when Becky Lynch was declared the winner.


But the other takeaway from this night was that some of the women in the match went onto social media to publicly congratulate Lynch. Nikki Bella & Natalya (Becky’s latest onscreen nemesis) took time to congratulate Becky, compliment her work ethic & even while reminding people that they wanted to be champion, they were proud of Becky. And Becky made sure to thank them for their words, and for a moment, everyone had to stand up and notice that all of these women were building up each other. There was no catty sniping, just a bunch of women proud of their body of work & proud of their friend, even in defeat. 

My other two daughters would have been so disappointed if I hadn’t added a pic of their “girls” in this match.

Even the women who may not have publicly congratulated Becky (but I’m sure they did privately) still showcased class & poise. They congratulated all of their opponents for a job well done, for a great match & Trinity “Naomi” Fatu gave a thoughtful statement, reminding her fanbase that long roads lead to beautiful destinations. No undercutting Becky Lynch’s abilities. No claiming that she’s ugly, fat or didn’t deserve to win. Just six women proud of themselves & what they were able to do. 


So congrats to all six of these women for showcasing a different kind of female superstar; classy in defeat, proud of each other & appreciative of opportunities given, or opportunities created. You showcased athleticism in the ring, but showed passionate fans that it’s okay to be happy for someone else, especially when you know they worked hard too. Six women built up other women, with not a single personal attack or childish catty insult. For once, a women’s match really was about who was the best, and the right woman won it the right way, teaching little girls at home that with hard work and integrity, there is nothing you cannot do. 

Big & Loud

This has not been my week. I’ve been sick. I’ve had xrays. It’s actually super shitty. But I will figure this out in a few days & all will be well. 

But I refuse to let dark times cloud my awesome life. My life is the raddest. I’ve lost six pounds this month. My gym dues are paid & I can train. My kids got rad report cards. Oh, and I got some much needed time with some friends this week. It was just what I needed. 

  
But enough about my life. Let’s talk about mindless drivel. Today’s mindless drivel is why the WWE Divas Division continues to piss me off. 

It has not been since 2014 that WWE has had a true babyface Diva in Brie Bella. Brie was beloved by fans, as they hoped she would defeat the evil Stephanie McMahon & avenge her husband Daniel Bryan & sister Nikki (she didn’t. She was defeated & aligned with Nikki to reign as bad girls in Team Bella & now is used to elevate the NXT Divas). 

  
Since then, all of the dominant women have been stereotypes. Bad girl Nikki Bella. Jealous geeky girl AJ Lee. Manipulative Paige. Daddy’s spoiled brat Charlotte Flair. All until the unexpected rise in popularity of Becky Lynch. 

  
Becky Lynch has gone through many phases since her debut, but the core of her main roster character has remained the same; she wants to be a champion of integrity. Someone little girls can look up to. She wants to win the right way. All three of my daughters watched the Royal Rumble with baited breath, to see if Becky would overtake Charlotte Flair & become the Divas Champion. 

She didn’t. 

Instead, Charlotte’s father forced himself on her, she was pinned in dirty fashion, tossed out of the ring like trash by villainess Sasha Banks & left to sob alone. 

  
As a mom & a feminist, I find it horrifying that male “advocates for women’s wrestling” like Jim Ross & Mick Foley are more concerned about whether or not the word Diva is problematic than the actual treatment of the women. An old man forcing himself on a woman is a humourous plot point in 2016. Every woman except Becky Lynch is a stereotype, from mean girl to cat lady. They are booked as catty, jealous bimbos who are self serving & petty. Even my 14 year old daughter, who wanted to be a Diva, no longer wants that. She feels like she would have to become a character that her sisters couldn’t be proud of, or end up humiliated like Becky Lynch. 

  

WWE has an obligation to their female fans to give them a hero. I’m not necessarily about kids role modelling from TV people, my kids look up to me, my strength, tenacity, my work ethic. But little girls deserve to see the heroine win in the story. Celeste Bonin’s Kaitlyn was humiliated by man eating villainess AJ Lee. Brie Bella was felled by her evil twin and then joined her. Paige fought the good fight, but turned bitter. WWE finally has a chance to give little girls a chance for their hero to win, like John Cena or Roman Reigns for boys, as Becky is still fighting the good fight against two evil stereotypes. As the biggest event of the year, Wrestlemania approaches, I hope WWE finally shows that nice girls can finish first, and the big moment can go to the character who wants to show that you can become champion & keep your soul; Becky Lynch. 

  

No Filter

Yesterday was the best day I’ve had in recent memory. 

I have been writing professionally for nine years. During that time the universe has blessed me with some amazing opportunities. But yesterday, I got to bring my daughters with me while I was working. We covered a trade show for female gamers at a comic book store. They weren’t interested in what Mommy does. They bough trinkets for themselves, a Captain America ornament for our tree, played chess & drooled over the Brie & Nikki Bella Pop Vinyls their collection desperately need. 

  
 
We then went out to my full time workplace in the hunt for Xmas decorations @ their behest. I feigned annoyance, but I was secretly delighted that they wanted to meet my coworkers. During the Target Mobile days, they often came to visit me at work & I would live for the days that I could show off my beautiful, witty & funny children. I think they missed that too & enjoyed that brief return to the normalcy we were used to. 

Lately, I’ve been so exhausted & burned out from the commute, the job itself (retail @ Xmas is taxing), and the lack of free time to focus on my girls, the gym & journalism that I’ve just been overwhelmed. I’m starting to feel like I can provide for them or be there for them & I want to be both. So, it was awesome to be able to integrate them into my work life a little bit. 

Sometimes I feel like a bit of a failure as a mom. I’ve been a single mom for five years & I still haven’t found that work/life balance? Then I find myself thinking maybe there isn’t one. Maybe it’s about rolling with punches & changing the dynamic as the needs of the house change & just doing the best that you can. Maybe it’s just about teaching them how to be responsible adults by being one & devoting as much time as you can. Maybe that’s all I can do & by doing that, I’m still the mother I want to be. 

This past year, I’ve scaled down the material items & focused on being present. I’ve made more of a point to enjoy their interests & encourage them to pursue them. Get to know their friends. Sometimes I’m the mean mom who says no to the beloved material item that they think that they need (like the giant plush fox or the aforementioned Pop Vinyls), which used to make me feel guilty, but now I know that I can’t make up for having to work with stuff. I can give them the time that they need to do stuff that they want, even if it’s travel to work on a Sunday to find a wreath that they might like or embracing the power of positivity with the New Day because they just want me to watch TV with them…or throwing a birthday party for the cat. 

  
All weekend, I’ve beaten myself up for everything from Xmas shopping later than usual to taking a Walmart cashier’s comment about expecting my daughter to do the laundry personally & her doing her own laundry meant I failed as a mom. But I’m not failing. I’m doing the best that I can for my family, while still making them the priority & trying to be a role model. Our bills are paid, we have a warm home. They’re doing well in school. And every day we’re learning how to make our family better. So, I think we’re doing okay. 

  
 

Writing’s on the Wall

Parenting a teenager super sucks sometimes. 

I’m fortunate that I’m raising a mature & well rounded teen girl. She’s not concerned with gossip. She doesn’t waste days on social media. She likes boys & fashion & selfies & reality TV, but she’s not caught up in celebrity worship as much as her peers (except for Queen Taylor Swift).  

I’m perfectly fine with my daughter loving Taylor Swift. She’s a good person who loves her friends and her fans. She promotes the concept of women building up other women. She responds to criticism with class and poise. She isn’t afraid to stand up for other artists. Taylor Swift is a fine role model for young women & I applaud her commitment to retaining her true personality despite her growing fame. 

However, my daughter’s new school friend recently teased her (good naturedly) for her obsession with the E! Reality show Total Divas. She adores the Bella Twins (Brie & Nikki) and enjoys their adventures as they climb the mountain to become the most dominant Divas in WWE history (a feat they’ve accomplished as Brie is the only Diva to co-main event a PPV, and Nikki recently held the Divas Championship longer than any Diva in history). But her friends are more concerned with Keeping Up With the Kardashians, most notably, their “style icon and role model,” Kylie Jenner. 

My daughter argues that her reality show is better, because Brie & Nikki Bella have an actual skill, whether their skill is respected by mainstream entertainment fans or not. Brie & Nikki can wrestle; they train to wrestle. Nikki has continued to compete through three separate injuries over the 301 days she was Divas champion. Brie & Nikki travel often, missing weddings, family functions, all in the name of entertainment. Brie most recently missed her first wedding anniversary because she was touring. My daughter often points out that Kylie has no discernible skill, nor do any of her sisters. They don’t have actual jobs, or a talent, or anything that makes them special, so why are we keeping up with them. But I overheard her friends this week telling her that Kylie Jenner is an icon & they should all aspire to be like her, get her signature pout & her relationship with rapper Tyga are “relationship goals.” All of this sort of makes me sad.  

I don’t know Kylie Jenner. I’m sure she’s a very sweet girl. She’s quite pretty. If she is a wild child, it’s probably more due to a lack of adequate supervision from her parents, Kris & Caitlyn Jenner. But there are so many more interesting things for young girls to aspire to be than pretty with a full pout. There is so much more for young women to accomplish than dating a 25 year old man while underage and bikini selfies and launching an app with makeup tips. These girls are 13 and 14 years old. They can grow into women of distinction; they can change the world. Why are they limiting themselves by wanting to be more like a woman with no discernible talent & her only goal is to be pretty & desired by men? Is this how my parents felt when I was all about Madonna?  

Girls, please don’t sell yourself short. If you must look up to someone famous, why not Hailee Stenfeld? This young lady was nominated for an Academy Award at the age of 14. She recently released her single “Love Myself,” which is quickly climbing the Billboard charts. The catchy song is an anthem for self love, reminding people that as long as she sees her worth, she doesn’t need anyone to validate her. What about Malala Yousafzai, who took on the Taliban, survived a gunshot wound & now advocates education for women in underdeveloped countries. Both of these young women are the same age as Miss Jenner & their messages are so much more positive. Love who you are, grow as a woman, seek knowledge. While neither may have Miss Jenner’s perfect pout, they have something so much more: goals & aspirations & a desire to make the world better.   

Somewhere, did we as parents fail our children? We can blame the media for giving the Kardashian-Jenner clan attention, but we are responsible for their infamy. We comment on their articles, we download their games, much like the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Episode, if you ignore them, they will die. We keep them alive with every retweet, click and comment.   

But maybe it’s deeper. Maybe we as moms have failed our children by our own example. Why do our daughters aspire only to be pretty? They don’t learn from celebrities, they learn from us. We can blame Barbie, even Kylie Jenner, but we have to ask what kind of example are we setting? Do we acquiesce to our husbands? Did we abandon our goals? Do we focus too much on our own aesthetic so that out daughters see us fearing aging & obsessed with being “Cougars” because either we are single moms hoping to meet a mate or because we still want to feel sexy? There is nothing wrong with these things on the surface, know there are times I’m too caught up in my appearance, especially my weight & my weight loss journey & I need to be mindful of that for my daughters.  But perhaps we need to use them as talking points, while aspiring to be more; professionally, personally.   Perhaps we as moms need to start setting goals for ourselves to showcase that we as moms are strong, brave, smart and beautiful. Then perhaps our daughters will look up to us, admire us, and not Kylie Jenner. Because your daughter’s role model should be you, not the flavour of the week on TV. Maybe if we kept up with being the best version of ourselves, our kids could keep up with us, and not the Kardashians.   

Fearless 

 I’m going to post an unpopular opinion. I’d apologize for posting my unpopular opinion, but I’ve always kind of said what I wanted and if you don’t like it, too bad.  As much as I love hate mail, you were warned. 

Here it is. 

 

For the next four days, I will be finishing my tenure as a retail associate for a large department store chain. During my time here, I have gotten to listen to people as they check out. Two magazine covers got people’s attention. So I’ll post them & some of the comments I heard: 

 

“Oh she is so brave.”

“Finally, a REAL woman on the cover of a magazine. That’s what a woman is supposed to look like!”

  

“Ugh. One step forward. Two steps back.”

“Soooooo photoshopped.”

“It’s like they want me to hate myself.”

First of all, BOTH of these women look great! (And they were both likely photoshopped) The smiles, the confident poses, the hair! These women look great! 

But why does Jennifer Lopez have to feel guilty for being in shape? And why does Tess Holliday have to have her dress size announced to make you feel good? Why do we have to tear one woman apart to make you feel better about you? Why is “body positivity” “body positivity if you’re fat?”

(Yup. I used the F word. Oh no. It’s a word. It’s a body type. It does not define you)

As someone who worked hard to lose 100lbs, I know I will never be conventionally thin. I currently float between a size 10 & 12 & I’m happy there. But my goal isn’t “thin.” My goal is “strong.” Jennifer Lopez’s taut tummy does not make me feel badly. She looks hot! Tess Holliday doesn’t make me love my body more; she looks great! But they look great because they love themselves, something women struggle with because we are taught to compete with each other. Fat girls tear apart thin girls to feel powerful. Thin girls mock fat girls to hide their own insecurities. Everyone mocks girls who want muscles. And we all credit celebrities with our self worth. 

Jennifer Lopez didn’t make you feel badly about your body; you did. Tess Holliday didn’t make you feel good about your body; you chose to feel acceptance from her appearing on a magazine. But you looked the same yesterday. You probably looked hot then too. But you’ve given your power to them. My fitness inspiration is WWE Divas Champion Nikki Bella. Her commitment to being strong & not necessarily thin in a world where looks are everything is cool to me. But Nikki is not the reason I love my body. I love my body because I can squat over 100lbs. I love how strong I feel. Self love is the sexiest thing on a woman. So is health. I do not weigh myself anymore. I focus on eating well, keeping active & doing what I like to do to keep active. Are there thinner girls at my gym? Yup. And they look great! 

 

No, I did not pick this photo of Nikki because Seth Rollins is in it. okay, yes I did.
 
Women, take your power back. Stop with the “real men love curves” or Fat shaming jabs. Embrace that every woman has a unique body & learn to love your own. 

Let’s all repeat this:

All women are beautiful if they are a good person. I will not belittle another body type or transfer their perception of themselves or what makes them beautiful to feel badly about myself. I will respect differences & appreciate that we are unique. If I don’t like myself, I will commit to changing what I don’t like in a healthy way & not put down others to feel better. I will be a woman who builds up other women.

Because loving yourself & others looks better than a great pair of jeans or a bikini. 

  

Dear Stephanie McMahon: A Letter From One Mom To Another

Dear Stephanie McMahon,

You don’t know me and I don’t know you, but we sort of grew up together. I’m only a couple of years younger than you and I grew up watching WWE programming and loved the entertainment your family brought into my home each week. As a teenager, I loathed your onscreen character for being married to my childhood crush, Triple H (although I promise I got over it haha) and much like you, I have three daughters of my own. You’ve gone from being the bane of my teenage existence to becoming a role model for women like me; you’re a hardworking mom who strives to be a role model. You don’t make excuses; you find time to keep in shape, run a company and still be there for your daughters. You inspire women like me every single day. I’m actually a huge fan of you and your work ethic.

The WWE Network is the most popular channel in my home, but it’s not for me; it’s for my three daughters, who are 13, eight and five. My eldest daughter’s goal in life is to become the youngest WWE Divas Champion in history and is already training for her goal. She runs 5Km with me three days a week, joins as many sports teams a possible and carries her replica title around as practice for when she wins the real thing, skipping like her idol, AJ Lee. The highlight of my eight year old daughter’s life was when she met WWE Diva Paige in our hometown in Ontario, Canada last year. Paige told her they were best friends and to this day, my daughter swears that she and Paige are best friends and begs to stay up late every week to see Paige wrestle and is waiting with baited breath for Paige to get her Wrestlemania moment @ Wrestlemania XXXI. My youngest loves the Bella Twins and sported her “Fearless Nikki” shirt on her birthday so she could be “Fearless Five.” They were excited beyond belief this past Summerslam, when you and Brie Bella co-headlined the second largest event of the year. They pleaded for Brie Mode and Fearless Nikki shirts so they could watch Divas kick butt just like the guys. They were so happy and as a longtime fan of WWE programming, I thought we were finally going to see a change, where women would get equal time to the men on programming and no longer would little girls all over the world wait all night to see the Divas just for them to be trucked out for three minutes and then leave…

..until last night.

from wwe.com
from wwe.com

Paige and fellow Diva Emma sat in the ring for several minutes while Raw aired a promo for male Superstar Sting. A promo that was long and unnecessary and could have aired at any point in the show. The Divas were given less than 10 seconds to wrestle and maybe three minutes to perform before they were shipped backstage. Ironically enough, you made a statement in a backstage segment questioning if male superstar Seth Rollins would defy you simply because you’re a woman. You make a bold, femminist statement and then have your Divas compete in less than 30 seconds with a promo in between. You stand up for powerful women, but your company disrespects their female athletes less than two hours later by saying that a video package for a male superstar is more important than their time.

I’m not talking as a disgruntled fan; I’m a mom just like you. My daughters adore the Divas, only watch WWE programming for the Divas (and Daniel Bryan. They really love Daniel Bryan) and each week they wait for hours for their beloved Divas just to see them for less than two minutes in storylines that insult their intelligence. The Bella Twins hate Paige because she looks different, AJ Lee hates the Total Divas because she wants to be on the show and wasn’t invited? Why can’t they have a storyline that is deep and meaningful? Trish Stratus and Lita had a rivalry that eclipsed their male counterparts, why can’t the current women? While I appreciate that Paige has sent a strong message about being true to oneself, why can’t women have storylines that make them strong, powerful women, and not high school bullies or jealous vixens?

I guess the part that confuses me is that you are such a strong woman and you take such pride in representing women in such a strong capacity. Why wouldn’t you want the Divas to be a reflection of your work ethic? My daughters as well as daughters all over the world look up to these women, they deserve more than two minute matches and storylines that demean them. When you became an active member of the creative team, moms like myself had such hope that you would show the world that the women were just as strong as the men. Total Divas is a successful franchise and brings new viewers to WWE. Why wouldn’t you capitalize on that and allow the viewers of Total Divas to see just how strong and athletic these Divas can be? We can’t see that in two minutes. The Divas work so hard. They deserve so much more. And you know how strong and talented they are, that’s why you chose to wrestle them yourself. Brie and Nikki Bella were talented enough to work a match with you, sell a pay per view event with you, and make history as the first women’s match to co-headline a PPV with you, but they’re not good enough for twenty minutes of airtime for Nikki to defend her title or cut a promo? That feels so hypocritical and I know that’s not how you would want fans to see you.

from wwe.com
from wwe.com

On behalf of every fan, I’m asking you to please let the Divas have airtime. Monday Night Raw is three hours long, surely you can give thirty minutes to the Divas. Every time you don’t, you cheapen the goals of little girls all over the world just like my teenage daughter, who want nothing more than to hold that title. You cheapen the hard work of women like AJ Lee, Paige and Nikki Bella, who work so hard and train so hard while working long hours and travel long days to hold that title and devalue Brie Bella, your handpicked opponent. You make them appear unworthy and beneath the men, and I know a woman like you, who conquered a man’s world would never want that for women.

I hope you’ll listen to the fans and #GiveDivasAChance, so my daughters will never have to say “Please let us stay up for the Divas, they’ll only be on for a minute!” ever again.

Sincerely,

MHC, A Mom Of Disappointed Divas Fans