So, last week I sat down to do a round-up post of cool Valentine stuff I saw on Pinterest– paper hearts, pink and red greeting cards, a cake topper featuring Fabio on horseback (What? Who? Me? Never.)…you know. The usual.
But then I saw this thing. It bugged me.
This pin, this photo, was a photo of a newborn baby swaddled in a wedding dress. Like a full grown adult wedding dress. Not so much wearing the dress as quasi-enfolded and peeping over the boob part. You get the idea. The caption said, “Take a picture of your daughter in your wedding gown so you can show it at her wedding.”
- The law clearly indicates that babies can be dressed as animals, never as adults. Baby as monkey – okay. Baby as busdriver – not okay. Baby as bride – still not okay. Baby as train engineers – maybe, it’s barely borderline, but only if the kid can tug in the air and say “Toot! Toot!”
- Does this person who put the baby in the dress not realize how much pressure that puts on a kid? That little girl will spend her whole life thinking that she is/was/is expected to get married one day. It is not only expected, it is assumed. From birth. I mean, what if that baby grows up and never gets married? What if she gets married but doesn’t have a horse-n-pony show wedding situation? What if she finds love and a life partner but never has want (or legal ability) to march down the aisle? What if her concepts of love fall outside the parameters of some assumption set down by her mother years before she ever even hit the dating scene?
Yeah. Don’t be laying that kind of horsecrap on your kid. Let babies be babies. (Or better – let babies be bears!)
Look, I’m not knocking love and marriage or the riding off into the sunset with the guy/gal of your dreams. Been there – done that. It has some benefits. I might even do it again someday. Because I think, if I, or you, can find some love in this lifetime, in any capacity, we’d be stupid to not do whatever we can do to cultivate it. Because it’s pretty cool stuff. And I like that. What I don’t like is this concept that everyone, even tiny babies, are weighted down by expectations. Can’t we encourage kids to grow up and be happy, independent of the good opinion of others? Are we still raising women to think that their true purpose in life will only be fulfilled only after they fill out a bridal gown? A marriage is a relationship and relationships are complicated. Don’t put that crap on little girls. That is not okay. Soooo not okay.
I can’t really get mad at the person who created that photo (or the 147 other people who pinned it) because, statistically speaking, assuming she is American, there is a 72% chance that baby in the photo will grow up and one day marry someone. And, if she does, there is also a 50% percent chance she will divorce that someone (fyi: 50% on first marriage, 67% for the second, 74% for her third). So, while it may be cute to swaddle her in a big poufy white gown, drowning in sequins and future expectations, technically, it would be more realistic to nestle that baby in frenzied pile of self-help books, off-brand chocolate, and four-figure attorney bills (PEOPLE, NOW THERE IS YOUR PHOTO OPPORTUNITY). Not that I would wish any of those scenarios on any baby, but, you know, that’s the problem with expectations. Self-prophecy has a way of biting all of us in the ass.
Damn, that was a long intro. Where was I? Oh yes, Valentines day.
In my irritation of that photo I thought, Where do people get these ideas? I mean, very, very few of the people I know are the children of happy marriages. Some divorce, some live in apathy, but not a lot of examples of “happy” endings (I use quotation marks generously). Where is everyone getting this romantic concept of, well, romance?
|Romance vs. Reality|
Oh yeah. Hollywood.
As someone who watches entirely far too much TV and movies, I thought it would be easy to come up with a few examples of Hollywood storylines that do not tie off with happy endings. I couldn’t. The fact that I couldn’t come up with a single movie that didn’t end in assumed marriage (or death) was far, far more disturbing than the creepy baby in the bridal gown.
So what did I do? I went on Facebook and asked some folks if they could think of any, and thank goodness, they have much better memories than me. Ha!
So. This being Valentines and all, if you are looking for a romantic movie that does not perpetuate some bullcrap concept of love=happiness=marriage=life purpose, these are a few suggestions….
Is there anybody that doesn’t like Cassablanca? It’s got Morocco and monkeys. A smoky casino. Wartime crisis. Ingrid Bergman in all her Swedish glory. And even Humphrey Bogard, who sorta looks like a Simpson’s character come to life, is easy on the eyes. It’s a classic for a reason. Everyone knows the ending so I’ll spare you the rehash, but it leaves you wanting more (is that not amore in a nutshell?) Yeah. This has Valentine written all over it.
Groundhog Day 1993
Okay, this will seem an odd pick since we just passed Groundhog Day, but this movie holds up any time of the year. It’s about a guy, Bill Murray, who repeats one day over and over again, attempting to alter each step, manipulating it to his advantage, only to realize…well, I won’t spoil it. It’s a love story but it’s not at all Romantic. The takeaway message is Get Your Act Together (because no one else is going to do it for you) – a message we all need to hear once in a while. The films is light, not a heavy hitter, however, I once saw Roger Ebert give a lecture and he said Groundhog Day was “The best film ever written.” So I went back and watched it again, and yeah, he might have been right.
Gone with the Wind 1939
Disclaimer: I may or may not have dressed up as Scarlett O’Hara for Halloween. Twice. It was a big puffy white dress with a hoop skirt and when people asked me about the costume and didn’t know who Scarlett O’Hara was (which was everyone – we were six) I would just say “a bride.” So that stuff above about the ‘don’t dress kids as brides’ is slightly hypocritical on my part. But Whatever. This is Gone with the Fucking Wind. Let me give you the rundown: romance — death; romance — war; romance — death.; romance— she gets dropped on her ass for being a total shrew. Oh yes, and Clark Gable, that fine piece of man (even with the Hestor the Molester moustache), steals almost every scene. Throw in some sprinklings of slavery, raging pre-feminism, civil war, and setting stuff on fire, and you have the makings of one of the best films of all time. It’s hella long so you need to start at no later than 6pm, okay? Okay.
500 Days of Summer 2009
This movie is the memoir of a failed relationship between Zooey Deschanel’s bangs and a guy who plays a greeting card writer (HELLO: PERFECT FOR VALENTINES ). The fact that it’s a nonlinear narrative (and painfully hipster) can be occasionally annoying, but the sincerity of the story makes up for everything. It’s hard to not relate to one (or both) characters at some time throughout the film. The ending is left open which is exactly how, in my opinion, a good romance movie should end – full of possibility.
Sliding Doors 1998
You can tell I like this one because I recommended it last year when I wrote a list of romantic movies to enjoy on Valentines Day (didn’t see this 180 coming, did you!). Sliding Doors stars Gwyneth Paltrow in two identities living in parallel universes. It’s like, did you ever wonder what would have happened had you said Yes to that guy? Or that job? Or that thing you missed out on because you slept in? Yeah. If you have ever wondered if you are living your destiny, this is the movie for you.
Want to read a list of more traditional romantic movies? Click here to see what I wrote last year.
Want to read a much larger list of great non-traditional love story movies, click here to read the complete list on Facebook. You guys always have great suggestions, so I would always love to hear more (not that I will be using them tonight, House of Cards Season 2 was released 3am Eastern today – a special Valentine from Netflix to all of us!)