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Sunday Observations

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I went to a Farmer’s Market this morning, because, 4 days in, the only way I can be persuaded to eat another Turkey Sandwich is to have artisianal locally made bread to dress it up.  Otherwise I’d be feeding it to my cats.

Before I moved to LA, I didn’t know about Farmer’s Markets, where local people sell their veggies and fruits and stinky soap crap from little tents each week.  It’s great.   As I peruse the rows of fresh, green radishes and kale and fresh-grown sprouts, I imagine a world where I would buy those healthy veggies and fruits and prepare homemade dishes that were nourishing and life-extending.  But then I just buy some fatty croissants and bread and eat out for dinner.

The one I went to this morning is in a rich-ish part of town.  The anti-Beverly Hills  if you would.  It’s an irritating part of town, but one where, if I were honest, I would live in a heartbeat if we could afford it.   It’s the kind of rich LA crowd who act like they’re “regular” and “hip” and wear sloppy sweaters and jeans even though the sweaters are really cashmere and the denims are +250 dollars with artfully worn holes to seem “humble.”  Even on the men.  It’s kind of surreal.   With their plastic framed glasses and scruffy beards, the Dads are clinging to a coolness they believe they’re maintaining from their single years, but you can tell there’s an air of “what happened” on their faces.  Or maybe I’m projecting.

This morning it was a flood of Hummer Baby carriages and Priuses, hip parents wrangling babies dressed in perfectly coordinated outfits, being pushed around in contraptions so elaborate that they should only be classified as a “service vehicle.”  If they barely fit on the sidewalk, 2 or 3 babies wide, shouldn’t they be driven in the bike lane?!

Anyway, this whole post was inspired not so much by the parents, as by the kids.  I was shocked that almost every little girl I saw this morning was dressed in a pink princess outfit or derivative thereof.  It was surreal.   I mean, if you’re a progressive, liberal well-off parent, why would you encourage sexual stereotyping like that?!  And these weren’t little girls throwing on pretty pieces mish-mashed together, these were obviously expensive, pink taffeta-ribbon-filled dresses bought at the store with a parent.  I even saw some tiny high heels on a 5 year old.  Scary stuff.

If I hadn’t seen so much concentrated in one area, I wouldn’t have noticed.   I know the whole “provocative kids clothes” thing has been big lately, but what about the “precious-fication” of girls?  It’s like a backlash against women’s lib.  Soon, we are going to have an army of 12 year olds that only care about manicures and hair extensions because Hannah Montana or whoever else Disney manufactured kid actor is showing them that that’s what they should care about, and no one’s discouraging otherwise.   Is it just genetic that girls want to look “pretty”, whatever age?   Is the chick-lit heroine really what we want the next gen of women to be?

  • It’s kind of sad that it comes down to people in general not understanding how much they are boxed in.
    Most people in society in general do things because they are told to. Not necessarily directly but most of the time indirectly.
    “Don’t you want to be popular?”
    “Don’t you want to be liked?”
    When you attached words like cool, hip, IT, IN, all the ___ will be __, All the parents are doing it, all the kids are doing it and so on and so forth – it because the lure to bait the sheep because unfortunately as much as people want to NOT be considered as such – most ARE sheep. They feel secure and no one wants to be unpopular – whatever group they are popular with.
    That is why people stay hiding in their comfort box.
    That is why semi-punks and whatever the alternative type is of the year (goth, emo, grunge, scene or whatever) will go for the piercings and the dyed hair and the rebel look.
    The prep and traditional popular group will always go to the pep rallies.
    Even geeks and nerds have their own sort of popularity.
    How many times have you caught yourself talking to another person and you say “You really have never seen Star Wars?” like it was some absurdity.
    Unfortunately this never dies and won’t ever go away. People will usually do what the crowd expects them to.
    There are exceptions – but that is a rare thing.
    Don’t live inside OR outside of a box – don’t have a box and teach others to get rid of the box too.

  • I finally found a new solution to turkey sandwiches after Thanksgiving – Turkey Pot Pie. Mmmm.

    And no, we don’t want the next generation to be that. Only I have to make some argument for genetics, having an eight year old who loves to give Mommy “makeovers.” 😉

  • Mmmm…. I love turkey sandwiches. Usually with sliced sausage and stuffing or cranberry jelly. *drool*

    My family may seem a little odd, but we always get an extra turkey because otherwise we’d run out of turkey sandwiches by Boxing Day (that’s the day after Christmas; there’s no Thanksgiving here, as Brits we’d probably rather have a Complaining).

    This predilection for the feminine stereotype must surely be placed at the feet of the media. Children’s television (and the targeted advertising that accompanies it) is rife with stereotypes of this nature. I’d also venture that it’s responsible for the throwaway instant culture rapidly spreading its foul tendrils around the globe. Don’t get me started. Seriously.

  • at least they are not wearing some ultra short miniskirts that goes up their @$%es…. i mean.. they probably will when they are 13.

    it IS scary stuff to be seen.
    i myself like to sit at a coffeeshop and just look at the passers by…. with this piece of rock going at 107000Km/h around a glowing star. some interesting things are bound to happen

    great descrip and interesting observation.

    the veggies are organic right?

  • “I was shocked that almost every little girl I saw this morning was dressed in a pink princess outfit or derivative thereof. It was surreal. I mean, if you’re a progressive, liberal well-off parent, why would you encourage sexual stereotyping like that?!”

    You obviously don’t have a little girl yourself 🙂 I’m the liberal parent of a child in the same age group, and while we don’t live in LA, its probably the same everywhere. As far as I can tell by observing my daughter and their friends, they all go through a princess phase and there’s nothing you can do about it.

    Your assumption is parents pick out all of a child’s clothing and they happily wear it is way off. Each child has a personality, and by the age of three to five they start wanting to pick out their own clothes. As a parent you have a choice, pick out each outfit and punish the child until they wear it, or give them a little latitude to be people and have some amount of control over their lives. Does it really matter if they want to wear something that clashes?

    As another example, some parents might fight and force a child to wear warm clothes on a cold day. The problem is they’ll be having that fight every day its cold, and the child will fight to wear less clothing than is appropriate just to rebel and make the parents go crazy. If, instead, you let the child wear a t-shirt and no coat when its 45 degrees outside they’ll be freezing, and learn its no fun to be cold, and decide that they *want* to be comfortable and will dress appropriately from then on.

    As it turned out my daughter grew out of the desire to wear frilly dresses, and now won’t wear dresses at all, preferring pants instead. But next year it’ll probably be something else, which is fine by us as long as its age appropriate.

  • Soma

    it seems i can not register a new anything
    on the forums. the result is always “this
    email has now been banned”…

    each attempt made with unique names and
    subsequent unique email address.

    looks like i have to peddle viagra in order to
    get verified……………………………………….

  • Omer

    I’ve been around my share of kids, several of my friends have kids, plus my mom is a pediatrician and I worked in her office off and on throughout high school.

    Most little girls dress up like princesses because they WANT to, plain and simple. I can’t explain why but I’m pretty positive there is no conspiracy at work.

  • Omer

    Also, which Farmer’s Market? Larchmont, Brentwood, Santa Monica? I needs me a good one that I haven’t been to yet (the question is if I can drag my ass out of bed before 11 on a Sunday).

  • J.K.

    I have absolutely no problem with parents endorsing their daughters to look pretty any more than I have a problem with them endorsing their sons to look handsome.

    I think it’s erroneous to assume that the children are being taught to define their sense of self-worth based solely on their appearance. I’m sure these same parents want their little girls to do well in school and make friends. That alone may not seem enlightened until you realize that just fifty years ago, the main objective of sending a daughter to college was to land a good husband for her.

    I also suspect that the number of little girls dressed as a princess on the weekend that “Enchanted” is #1 at the box office may not be a coincidence. (BTW, if you haven’t seen it… you must.)

  • J.K.

    PeakFreak,

    I respect your position, but I disagree with it.

    People are inherently tribal. On meeting others, they want to convey information, much of which can be defined by the social group they identify with. It’s a way of saying “you don’t know me, but this is who I am, until we adjust the details of that image on a personal level.” I’m all for living in a box.

    Now, I’ll concede that some people let that define them against their better judgment… they subjugate their wants to the will of the group. Eh. They’ll either grow out of it or they won’t, I don’t worry. But I don’t think the act of a person conscious of social division is to necessarily break free from it… I think it’s more likely (and more reasonable) that awareness should simply bring into focus the decisions that adhere to, or deviate from, one’s chosen social circle.

  • Erica

    Don’t you just love it when parents get all ‘Haha, you don’t have a kid and therefore know nothing about anything’? Ugh. Dude, I don’t have to put my hand in the fire to know that it’ll hurt me.

  • Carl

    PeakFreak & JK:

    You’re right. Humans are social animals. The current dominant evolutionary theory says that we evolved large brains to handle complex social interaction. Too bad we don’t use them more beneficially. It’s like the kids who are bad at school math, but great at manipulating sports statistics: the capability is there, but it’s not used properly.

    Felicia
    There are inherently feminine and masculine traits: the male and female brains really are different. Transgendered people demonstrate that such differences are not exclusively tied to the presence or absence of the Y chromosome. Societies and cultures have evolved different strategies for exploiting these differences; some more beneficial than others. I live in a tremendously cosmopolitan city: Dunedin is primarily a college town and one of it’s industries is to sell an education at an English speaking institution to foreign students. One of the things that I’ve noticed (and delighted in) is that there are certain universally feminine traits that seem to span all cultures….in their own way, they all do something to accentuate their femininity.

    That having been said, I’ll return now to the human animal’s seemingly endless ability to fritter away its inherent talents. The cultural phenomena of Paris Hilton and Brittney Spears are emblematic of how screwed up the Female Image is in American culture. Felicia, you can be proud of yourself, because you represent a counter-example….take a bow. 🙂

  • I suppose it is all about the environment people are raised in.
    I have to say I may be conflicted and even a tad hypocritical about the whole thing. I will proudly stand up for womens liberation as a very good thing, and then theres part of me that thinks modern women have lost the air of femininity and I mourn that. I think we as a society are in danger of becoming a congealed sexless mess where everyone is trying to be equal and not celebrating their differences. It almost seems that women want to be more like men, and they want men to be more like women, and as men who have been raised to respect women, we are somehow fine with that.
    Do I want women to return to being second class citizens? Hell no. I don’t want any woman to be considered my property. I don’t believe in slavery so why should I believe in that? I just wish women would find it comfortable to be women, and let men be men. It’s wishful thinking, and obviously a generalisation. Do I want women to have equal pay etc? Of course. I want them to be equals that shouldn’t have to try and be more like men to get that equality.
    Not every little girl likes pink and unicorns, but what is wrong with that if they do?
    Obviously the concern is that parents are forcing such things on them, or perhaps the manufacturers of certain products. The real acid test is in their first school years when children are 5-8 years old. You could have raised a little girl to feel totally equal and avoid so called girly things, and then all of a sudden you ask her what she wants for a Birthday present and she wants a Barbie. Peer pressure may be a result, or she could be seeing how much fun other little girls have playing with the toy or suchlike. Who would you be to deny your child that? Even if you yourself cannot stand the concept.
    Personally I don’t think that the colour of our clothes or stroller when we are a toddler has much of an impact on what we do or think in later life. No what really imprints on you is how your parents act around you. Is your mother allowed her independence as a human being around you? If so then you will likely grow up to be an independently minded young woman, and it wont matter if you wore pink as a 2 or 3 year old. As I said before your friends at school influence you as well, and you either accept or rebel against the ideas thrown at you.
    The true legacy of the womens liberation movement is a very positive one. It gives women a choice. I can mourn the loss of femininity in the world all I want, but I would NEVER take a womans choice to not be “girly” away. I have my opinion, and so do other men, but more importantly so do women, and it is just a valid opinion as my own.

  • 1) Larchmont Farmer’s market, Sundays, excellent selections.
    2) Many great observations, especially from Michael as a parent. I guess if my kid wanted a pink frilly dress I’d give it to her. It was just the coincidence of at least 20 kids at once that caused me to generalize. I DO think the comment about children’s TV is interesting. Having watched a bunch of Nickelodeon and Disney stuff lately (for RESEARCH!) it’s crazy how made-up the girls are. I can’t help but say in the “old days” they were…scrappier, or something. Punky Brewster anyone?

    3) Soma, I’ll ask edgar to unban you. I’m sure it was an accident 🙂

  • Soma

    Felicia:

    i sorta asked him to ban me..

    it was for my own good..

    here i tried to sneak back in and the gate was
    just too high.

    i would just end up talking about hellgate and loot
    all day anyway..

  • Soma

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TS6LEUR879w&NR=1

    *cry

    my tears make a soft thudding sound on cheesecake..

  • Omer

    Sounded like Larchmont or Brentwood farmers markets to a T. And yeah, it’s a good one.

    You say it grudgingly but I’m saying it right now, I’m saving for a house in that area. It will either take a very very very long time or a real estate crash of massive proportions, but that’s what I’m gunning for. 🙂

    One thing I thought was pretty funny was that I’ve seen Zack De La Rocha and Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine in that shopping area on separate occasions (not together) more than once. Last time was Morello at the big pizzeria there. Considering the frequency I can only guess that they live around there. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just bizarre seeing that particular lead singer (with the music and the politics and everything) walk into a store that sells “wickery” things.

  • LOL I know Omer! That’s why I posted the post in the first place! The crowd is so “alterna-chic 30’s” but there’s bric a brac everywhere!! I guess we all turn into our parents at one point, no matter how hard we fight it 🙁

    The neighborhood is lovely, but it’s borderline for me, kinda like the westside, it seems a touch too white bready. Walking to Peet’s coffee in the morning would be fantastic tho. And the houses are scrumptious. I have an old house obsession. My dream house would be an old craftsman 2 blocks north of Main street in Santa Monica. Scratch that. 2 Blocks SOUTH of Santa Monica. I mean, if it’s a dream house, might as well go crazy and live right on the ocean!

  • Omer

    I mainly like Hancock Park because it is central and the lots are very big compared to the Miracle Mile and Fairfax District (the other two neighborhoods I’d consider buying a house in). I hate waking up and I need a place very centrally located to buy me as much sleep time as possible (cause lord knows where they’ll have me drive for work).

    Have you seen the craftsman houses up in Pasadena? GOOD stuff, some of the best I’ve ever seen.

  • I use to watch Punky Brewster all the time – her weirdness had my heart when i was a child.

  • Courtney

    Oddly enough, I watched it too..

    Did a double take when I saw the grown up version of Soleil Moon Frye…

  • we all must grow up sometime.

  • Virginia

    I’d challenge those mothers to even find girl clothes that weren’t some variation of pink, purple, or glitter. I recently did a research paper for a linguistics course on children’s advertising, and even without words, there is a distinct gender socialization going on for them. Kinda sad, really.

  • Kate

    Thanks for this post, Felicia. I think there’s a difference between being sexy and being feminine. As a middle-schooler, I threw fits about not being allowed to wear miniskirts and make-up, with my parents making the argument that I couldn’t understand the signals I was sending with my attire choices, and that with the trappings of adult femininity came a whole bunch of responsibilities that I couldn’t deal with yet. Now that I’m a heck of a lot older, I appreciate their firmness. I see little girls in full kit and think, they just can’t possibly appreciate what they are playing at.

    I’m totally with you–let our girls express their desires to be girls (if they want to–and not persecute the ones who don’t want to), to be feminine, wear sh*tloads of pink–fine. But they should be allowed to live without the adult responsibilities and awareness of their gendered roles as they develop an intellectual, independent personality. The fact that they are women and that this will define them socially will be shoved on them soon enough, and most likely before they are really ready for it (I remember my own awareness of this coming when I was 13 and went jogging in my working class neighborhood, where fully grown men whistled and hooted at me–and I never went out jogging there again. Now, when I see a 13 year-old girl, I think, what was _wrong_ with those guys?–13 year-olds are _little_).

    As to not finding girls clothes that aren’t pink and purple, I call bs. My mom dressed me in mostly boys clothes (Lees cords from Sears, oh yeah) so my little brother could wear them later and I turned out fine and feminine. Also, whenever I wander by the Target kids section, I see tons of cute clothes for girls that are green, brown, red, that are perfectly normal looking to me.

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