I still remember Pat, a boy who stood 5'8" and had a mustache in 7th grade. If you were building a bully in a laboratory, these would be key ingredients.
I was the new, awkward kid, my family having just moved to the area. While my Junior High School was filled with rich kids, I wasn't one of them. I wore hand-me-downs and had dermatitis that formed a bright red mustache on my face. Maybe that's what attracted my mustachioed bully.
One day, I sat in English class hoping nobody would notice me. The room was quiet when I felt Pat's hand on my back. His fingers curved under my bra strap, pulled it out, and popped it. Luckily I was wearing my sister's old bra and the elastic gave, creating more of dull thud than a snap.
Pat, refusing to give up, said, "Hey, Donna, what size bra do you wear?" I heard girls in the room giggling, relieved that the bully had focused on someone other than them.
"I don't know, Pat, what size jock strap do you wear?" I responded. There was total silence, and my English teacher started class. He also gave me an "A" for the day.
I wonder if most young girls today have that kind of self-esteem. I think some do, but many are too busy trying to be someone else.
A young woman on "The Bachelor" admits that her sole desire is to look like a Kardashian. Already attractive, this poor young woman wears eyelashes that are twice her body weight.
Watching her cry is terrifying - I can't even feel emotion because I'm trying to see if her tears will make it through those lashes. It's like watching for the emergence of your car at a carwash as it battles its way through those blue rubber strips.
And now, feminism meets "Fifty Shades of Grey." Young girls are learning that being dominated and degraded is H-O-T. Whips and chains have become the new candy and flowers.
I realize that young women want to create their own set of strengths and are grossed out by my braless generation. Many of them hate the word feminism, and feel they can use their sexuality as power.
In the long-run, this plan is similar to my "I don't need a diet; I'll just eat carefully" plan. It doesn't work.
Why? Because eventually intelligence and skill wins the day, and there's always someone younger and prettier. As a 54 year-old woman, I had a man almost run me over yesterday because he was looking at a much younger woman on the sidewalk.
There are just some strategies that we shouldn't invest our time and energy in. We deserve better.
Here's a cautionary fairy tale I've written to explain my concern:
Once upon a time, there was a pretty young girl who was her parents' pride and joy. She wanted to grow up and be an adventurer like Pippi Longstocking, and travel the world. She braided her hair and stared in the mirror, hands on hips, ready for an adventure. Her parents took her to Disneyland and let her wear her braids, because they wanted her to be happy.
By the age of 7, she decided that she wanted to fight fires and pal around with Smokey the Bear. She would save all of the forests. Her parents bought her a fireman's hat because they wanted her to be happy.
By the age of 10, she got on the internet and learned that pretty girls got all the boys, drove Escalades, and sat around swimming pools looking gorgeous. She would stand in front of the mirror and look at everything that needed to be prettier. Her mother took her to a salon to get a new, "sexy" haircut, because she wanted her to be happy.
By the age of 11 she was wearing mascara and lipstick, making herself look like a lot like the character Brook Shields played in the 1978 movie '"Pretty Baby." .
By the age of 13, she was calling her friends "hoes" and texting sultry pictures of herself to her boyfriend who looked at them while he sat in the dermatologist office. Her parents didn't know about this one.
By the age of 14 she had surgery on her tiny breasts, which were still chanting "I think I can, I think I can." Her parents paid for the surgery, because they didn't want her to have self-esteem issues.
When she turned 16, she read a book about a woman who was dominated by a man, and she dreamed about the day when a man holding a blindfold and rope would take her to a room that looked like something from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." She no longer listened to her parents.
By the age of 19, she wished that she could be 16 again because she was starting to get wrinkles around her eyes. Therefore, she bought stiletto heels and tried to make her breasts a little bigger and zipped her top a little lower. She tried hard to be happy.
In her 20s, she met a rich man and married him, even though he wasn't as attentive as she hoped. She hung out with friends, since her husband was rarely around. She had children, and then went on diets consisting of one leaf of lettuce a day so she could stay skinny.
In her late 30s, her prince charming left her for someone in her 20s, and she got Botox and stopped smiling, because it would cause wrinkles. Her prince charming took most of the money she relied on, and she moved back in with her parents, which didn't make them very happy.
I think that all women should get together and remember that strength comes from the inside out, not the other way around. I'm sure there are fifty shades of grey, but we deserve color. We deserve a better fairy tale.