Sisters under the skin…

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It may of course be my age and stage in life, but frankly I don’t care for the Kardashians, the TOWIE babes or any other half-witted, self-promoting bimbos. I may have boobs, but I do have brains, and no – my face isn’t at chest level nor is it surgically enhanced!

It seems to me that these days, superficial is super-cool, plastic (as in surgery and friend-fakery) is fantastic.  If you don’t have 40.5m followers on Twitter, you aren’t working hard enough. If you can’t influence on Facebook you are simply not worth friending.  Not writing your own cook-bake-make blog …while hand-knitting nappies for your test-tube triplets?  Shame on you, woman!  Worst of all, social media has given ordinary women such an inferiority complex, we have actually begun to buy the crap promulgated by popular culture. We actually think it’s ok to be a size zero, or to deprive ourselves of coffee, sex or ice-cream…all in pursuit of some photo-edited ideal that simply isn’t reality.

Instead of supporting each other, I see countless examples of women being disparaging about other women.  And no, the Kardashians are media freaks and do not count – they are only nice to themselves and Kanye!  Eating disorders are at an all time high. It’s estimated that 10% of young women will suffer this.  And the phenomena of on-line bullying is a worrying trend. Not content to bash you in the playground, girl-on-girl violence has evolved to the digital age. We’ll get you in cyberspace…For goodness sake, our’s is the era that has spawned the term ‘frenemy’…as in, people you loathe but are friends with? I rest my case!

As a grown up (sometimes) I’ve experienced first-hand how mean, petty and bitchy women can be. At one time, I used to be the only single woman at the dinner table…or not. Sometimes I was not invited, because being single clearly I must be on the hunt for a husband/promotion/shoes and therefore a huge threat.  Really? Shoes and promotion, I earned and paid for myself several times over.  Husband?  Well…I wouldn’t want to steal your bald, fat wallet! 

However, I’ve also seen how wonderful, supportive and giving women can be. Instead of competition, collaboration. Instead of combat, caring.  Women friends who hear your sobs and will be your solace, women friends who will cheer your success with champagne, women friends who leave money behind or buy you dinner, so you don’t need to worry about spending, women friends who will send you postcards so you don’t feel alone. Perhaps it’s a female destiny to love too much, feel too much or give too much…but it’s done gladly.

So here is a shout out to the women of my generation -my friends and my family. Let’s support each other. Let’s be present enough in each other’s lives to share the good moments, and the bad. Let’s be pleased for each other’s bravery, success or happiness – not envious. Let’s share the love, and magnify the support. Because…whether or not we are related… we are all sisters under the skin.

 

One born every minute…

I’m really beginning to think I live in a time-warp.  Watching the news, I couldn’t help thinking of events some 20 years ago. A corporate scandal involving a newspaper magnate whose surname also began with M, rioting in Northern Ireland and kwashiorkor babies.  Sometimes the more the world turns, the more it remains the same.

It’s heartbreakingly sad to see infants and children arrive at the refuge camps across the horn of Africa – only to die of malnutrition when they get there. It’s heartbreakingly sad to see not one or two children in this predicament, but five or six per family. These small creatures cannot speak for or defend themselves.  Their mothers are no better off.  Illiterate, poor, often victims of rape – for these oppressed women, family planning is not an option. The loss of one child is unbearable, the loss of two or three, when this could be avoided….

It’s a complex situation, and I don’t claim to have the answers.  Still, I can’t help wondering if our charitable contributions are merely adding to a culture of dependency in an environment where climate change and civil war have wreaked havoc.  If there is money to fund the warlords in Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea, why isn’t there enough to provide irrigation schemes or green energy? 

Instead of food aid, would our money would be better served funding education and contraception programmes for the women and children in such peril?  Though laudable, the charity cartels (think Oxfam, Unicef and Save the Children) have sewn up crisis response in sub-saharan Africa.  There is money to be made from suffering.  And if you think I’m being harsh, just check out the profit and loss accounts of these organisations. They have turnover and assets worth millions! Charity doesn’t even begin to describe it.

 I’m undecided whether I will donate to the latest DEC appeal. Are we are simply trying to hold back the flood by putting our fingers in the dyke? Or can our donations truly make a difference? The Dalai Lama said, ‘compassion and love are essential if we are to save humanity’. From a human perspective, it feels like the right thing to do.

You can find out more about famine relief and DEC by clicking here:
http://www.dec.org.uk
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/696803.stm