Cheryl Lemus earned her PhD from Northern Illinois University in 2011. Her dissertation, “‘The Maternity Racket’: Medicine, Consumerism, and the American Modern Pregnancy, 1876-1960,” examines the rise of the modern pregnancy in 20th-century America. She is mainly interested in gender and women’s history, the history of medicine in America, and the rise of consumer culture.
As I write this blog post, I am recovering from an intense Thanksgiving weekend. Over the course of four days, I cooked, attended a Doctor Who convention, put up the rest of our Christmas decorations, and shopped. I am not ashamed to admit that as of 11:59 p.m. on Halloween, I hit the Christmas station on Pandora. Although I usually wait until Thanksgiving to decorate the tree, I actually put it up a week early this year. And this was not the first time I was in a store very early on Thanksgiving because there was a deal that I could not pass up. I am a liberal feminist, and yes, I am one of those people who loves most everything about the holiday. I cook, I shop, I share past traditions, and damn it, my tree looks awesome. This feminist loves Christmas. Kirk Cameron would be proud.
Well, it’s that time of year again! The temperatures are dropping, the days are shortening, the leaves are beginning to turn, and the calendar is indicating that backpacks, pens and pencils, and school projects will become part of daily routines. For some of us, there also might be trips to the retailers (or clicks online) to shop for new back-to-school clothing.
This past May, I paid someone to let me touch them and take pictures with them while my family watched. Now before you freak out, I should clarify that my family and I traveled to the Motor City Comic Con in mid-May. I’ll be honest; I am a late comer to the comic convention world. It’s a subculture that I am only beginning to understand. While I’m there, I feel like I am looking through glass, observing the behaviors, expectations, and ideals that hang in the air as fans, writers, retailers, and celebrities converge in a generic space converted into a place of worship, commerce, and fun. As a historian and feminist, I find myself asking questions and thinking about how comic conventions sit in a larger historical context of sex, gender, class, race, and culture. Yet, at the same time, the fan in me screams, “Screw that, I’m about to take a picture with Matt Smith and Karen Gillan!” My scholarly training and fan excitement have blended into a persona that has accepted that I will geek over the site of the 11th Doctor, but even so, I cannot help wonder why I am handing over my credit card to have a few brief moments with a designated VIP, or better yet, what am I expecting in this transaction?
I have a scar just under my chin that I received as a young girl when I fell into a small bush with very sharp edged branches. The wound was very deep, and it bled like a broken faucet. Of course, I screamed and cried. My mother probably should have taken me to the emergency room, but she belonged to the generation that believed you only visited the hospital if you were dying. A bleeding chin did not meet the criteria, so I covered the cut with Aloe Vera and wore a lot of band aids. The cut took a long time to heal, and as I watched the redness fade, I was happy that the scar was just below my chin because no one could see it unless they looked closely. Even as a young girl, I understood that scars were unfeminine.
Winter has declared war on most of the Midwest. The Polar Vortex directly and indirectly wreaked havoc on most U.S. citizens last week. Grocery stores ran short on staples! Schools canceled school! Travelers found themselves stranded! Cars did not start!
A few months ago, I decided to stop dyeing my hair. There were a couple of reasons behind this decision. In March, I started my new job as assistant professor of history for an online university, which means I work from home. One of the advantages of this position is that I don’t have to get dressed. Working in yoga apparel and/or PJs is oddly liberating, although I have to remind myself to wash my face and brush my teeth. There is a freedom in forgoing a professional wardrobe, but I began to wonder if I still needed to color my hair, which I’ve done in one way (Sun In) or another (Clairol #108) since I was 13. Now that I work from home, the box of dye is sitting in the bathroom. I think laziness is driving my decision more than wanting to make some sort of statement about embracing middle age.
Congratulations on the birth of your beautiful and healthy baby boy, George Alexander Louis! It really is a joy to wake up after you give birth and realize that you are a mother. However, it also a bit disconcerting to walk to the bathroom afterward (or waddle, like I did), and look at the mirror, and say “Holy crap I look like hell!” Yeah birth is awesome, and it sucks all at the same time because your body goes through this change afterward that no one ever tells you about, not even your mother or friends who have gone through the same experience.
Update: As the discussions about reproductive rights continue to heat up, we here at Nursing Clio are going to share some of our past blog pieces that have touched upon these issues. I am sure we will have more to say in the upcoming months, but for now, enjoy and share! Well today’s the day… Read more →
Sick of hearing about Paula Deen? Yeah, I know, it’s been a little overwhelming. Not only have we found out that Deen admitted to using the “n-word” in the past, that her ignorance about race still exists, and that she has subsequently been dropped by several sponsors, but we also have endured many, many responses to these events in the last few weeks. Well, I hate to break the bad news, but I am going to give you another commentary. One with a very different viewpoint, however, so please bear with me. The case against Deen and Bubba Hiers (her brother) is not that complicated, but the responses to Deen’s deposition raise issues of privacy (“we can say what we want in private”), reflect double standards regarding race (“well, African Americans call each other by that name, why can’t we use it?”), suggest the belief that time erases all sins (“she’s of a certain time period” or “well, she said it so long ago, it does not matter anymore”), and even elicit offerings of olive branches (an excellent example of this is here). But as much as this episode in the continual series “Celebrities are not Gods” demonstrates that racism is alive and well in America, I must remind everyone that Lisa T. Jackson is not just suing Deen and Hiers for racial discrimination, but also for sexual discrimination and harassment. These charges have gotten lost in the shuffle. Why?
When you look at old photographs of yourself, there are many that deserve to be burned and others that inspire a giggle or two. The constant shifts in fashion have meant that you may have stashed away some unflattering pictures that include neon colors, ugly prom and bridesmaid dresses, polyester, big hair, shaved heads, and velour jogging suits. A lot of these pictures spur laughter and some just leave you puzzled and wondering, “why in hell was I wearing that?!?” Then there are those you may be hiding for one reason or another: if you are blinking and look like you’re drunk or you just woke up after a night of partying and your best friend decided to capture your messed up hair, smeared lipstick, and bloodshot eyes as a Kodak moment. Those are not too pleasant, but after a while, although you might not show them readily, you chuckle when you look at them. However, there are pictures that never see the light of day. These pictures can be of anything, but I venture to guess that many of the photographs you bury remain hidden because you believe you look fat.