Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It's a Curl Thing...

There are many fictional characters that I feel a strong connection to.

Among them:

Lisa Simpson (we are both idealistic vegetarians. And she wears pearls. And she eats Jackie-O's, I played the saxophone briefly in the fifth grade. Not many people know that)

Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility. (we are both extremely sensitive and passionate. And then Kate Winslet played her in the movie, who is number 1 on my "British Actresses I want to be Best Friends" list)

"Ugly" Betty Suarez (when this show first came on, my mom watched and called me up and asked if I was writing the scripts for this show because Betty was JUST LIKE ME. I tuned in, and instantly agreed. Like me, she's klutzy and awkward and insecure, as well as smart and goodhearted and well-meaning)

And then there's Frieda from the Peanuts comic strip.

Frieda didn't have much of a personality or a significance in the Peanuts strip, but she DID have naturally curly hair.

And she made it a point to point out her naturally curly hair every time she was allowed to speak.

I also have naturally curly hair.

I have no idea where it came from. My sister has stick-straight, glossy hair and when we shared a bathroom, our hair products cabinet was quite diverse. My mom's father had thick, wavy hair, and I'm guessing I got SOME of this from him, but the rest of it, I have no idea.

You really cannot judge how hard a girl has had it until you have walked a mile in her ringlets.

When I was in middle school, I was clueless as of how to care for my naturally curly hair and took to washing it every day and BRUSHING IT (today, I do not even OWN a brush.)

There were two boys on my schoolbus that took to screaming out "Ch-ch-ch-CHIA!" every day when I got off at my stop. They soon had half of the bus shouting at me and laughing.

To this day, I can remember the first and last names of those two boys, and if I ever passed them in the street, I would definitely cringe. I used to dread riding the schoolbus every day, and would be crying by the time I walked through my door. "Kids can be cruel", "Boys will be boys"...hearing those things doesn't help.

As I got older, I learned to embrace all of this hair. I learned to take care of it, and found that beneath all that chia hair were bouncy, happy curls just begging to be freed. I started testing out multitudes of conditioners, cremes, and gels. I stopped shampooing so frequently. I can honestly say that I have never, for a second, wanted straight hair. This hair is ME. It is my signature. This is how it comes out of my head. Why would I mess with nature?

My mother hasn't exactly been a fan of my curly hair. When I went through an extremely frustrating jobhunt, my mom insisted that nobody would hire somebody with long, curly hair. Only girls with short, straight bobs got jobs. (That makes sense...New York City IS a terribly whitebread city, after all...hmmm...)

My curly hair, she claims, is also part of the reason that I haven't been the luckiest in love. (It has nothing to do with the fact that I only meet gay men.) She says men look at me and can't get past my hair...(the same hair I get stopped in the street and compilmented on? THAT hair? And yes, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts and Keri Russell obviously can't get boyfriends OR jobs, right?!)

But I love this hair! It's MY hair. It's ME. It's MY personality. I wouldn't be the same Diana with straight hair. (Plus, when you have curly hair, you get compared to just about every famous curly-haired woman in the world...I have been told that I looked like Mariah Carey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brittany Murphy and Julianna Margulies all in the same year. Odd.)

Frieda once stated that, "I can do anything because I have naturally curly hair!" and "People always expect more from you when you have naturally curly hair."

Thank you, Frieda.

Diana Rissetto

Taking Angie's Side

Over the past couple of years, I have argued with many people about Angelina Jolie.

Now, many people who know me probably know of my slightly prudish and old-fashioned values. (I should have been born in 1925.) They probably think that when I say that I get into arguments about Angelina Jolie that it means I am saying things like: "That shameless hushy!" (an expression I am quite fond of...sometimes it's just the perfect description for somebody.)
"That Jennifer Aniston is such a nice girl and that Jolie floozie breezes in and ruins everything for her!"

Not so.

Not so.

In fact, when I get into arguments about Angelina Jolie, I take her side.

I don't think I have ever seen a single one of her movies...(wait, actually, I did...I had to write a paper on her movie Taking Lives when I was in college. Don't ask. Yes, I guess you can say my school was a bit of a soupy one.) I am not exactly a fan of her work (as I have never seen much of it, but I tend to miss a lot of movies), but I am a fan of her humanitarian work.

I think I started defending Angelina Jolie when I was watching TV with a friend and we first heard that she had adopted her second child, a little girl from Ethiopia. My immediate reaction was, "That is wonderful! Good for her!!!" My friend rolled her eyes and said, "It's not fair...because she's so rich and famous, she probably got the kid really easily, but other people have to wait years for a baby." I said, "But she's adopting a child from Africa...healthy white infants are in high demand, children in Africa aren't." My friend replied, "I bet she was put higher on the waiting list, though." This was when I wanted to pretty much shake my friend. "THERE IS NO WAITING LIST TO ADOPT ETHIOPIAN AIDS ORPHANS!!!!!!" Sure, Angelina has plenty of money to just fly to Africa whenever she wants, which certainly puts her at an advantage...but do you honestly think people are going crazy trying to adopt Ethiopian AIDS orphans???

I have found that many people share similar views of Angelina, claiming that she SHOULD be adopting American children in need because we have enough of them here. (For those who say that...I would love to know just how many American children THEY have adopted themselves.) A child is a child is a child. Does it matter what country it comes from? In the end, a child who didn't have a home or a family before now has one. That really should be all that matters. Anybody who sees the situation otherwise has some serious issues.

Also, do we judge people who go to extremes in order to have their own biological children? If you are going to judge Angelina for not adopting American, let's judge the couples who transport embryos and buy eggs and do whatever else so they can have their "own" child. (Sidenote: I am not judging these people.)

Others claim that Angelina is having nannies raise her children. (Honestly? Does it really matter? Yes, the child is MUCH BETTER OFF in an orphanage sleeping in a crib with five other babies and not getting any attention than it would be with an attentive nanny.)

Madonna met similar criticism when she adopted a baby from Africa. When she appeared on Oprah, Oprah asked her if she had any final words for the viewers, and Madonna said that she challenged ANYBODY to go over to Africa and see how many starving and sick children there were and NOT want to "rescue" one. I agree with her. I would most likely come home with ten. In fact, when I read The Kite Runner , I was ready to go to the Middle East and bring home a bunch of babies.

And then there are those who feel that Angelina and Madonna aren't doing any good at all...they are only rescuing a few children, when there are millions. This reminds me of a poster that my high school psychologist had hanging in her office. (I used to have to go see her reguarily when my father died. I knew that office well.)

It is such times that I am reminded of The Starfish Story - A man was throwing starfish stranded on the beach to the water. Another person who saw the man doing this remarked the futility of this task as there must be millions of starfish stranded on shore. As the man picked up another starfish and threw it back to the ocean, he said "Well, it made a difference to that one."

And, of course, of this quote from the Tablet, now forever attached to Oskar Schindler:

He Who Saves One Life, Saves the World Entire.

Diana Rissetto