Wednesday, May 18, 2011

To Be Like Theodore

Many people think they have me pegged.

Considering the topics I'm delving in, it could give the erroneous impression that I'm one of those girly-girls whose favorite color is pink, who enjoyed shopping at 8, who begged their mothers to wear lipgloss at fourteen.

They are way off.

My most despised hue as a child was pink (I still avoid it).  It was my dream to be a tomboy, but I fall like a ton of bricks (splat) and can't throw. My out-of-school uniform until I was 15 was a ratty sweatshirt I had stolen from my brother and a Biz skirt. I refused to wear makeup at his wedding the same year, despite my mother's begging/threats. I didn't like to shop until 18. I never wore makeup on weekdays until a year ago - at age 24. 24!

Yes, I am slow.

I came to the conclusion that I don't want to be typical, and I thought my only other option at that time was to eschew fashion in any form. My sister-in-law changed that by showing me by example how to look chic yet unique (not necessarily trendy), and I developed my own sense of style.

I was thinking how everyone nowadays wants to be able to classify their fellow humans. People are no longer permitted to be different. If  one does one thing, then they must obviously do the other. No personal quirks are allowed; they must be categorized and labeled like insects in an entomologist's drawer. 

I was watching an interview of Edmund Morris, who wrote a trilogy on Teddy Roosevelt. 
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/19/President_Theodore_Roosevelt,_1904.jpg
Teddy was an eccentric, a moralist, an elitist,  an intellectual, a Republican, the trust-buster, a regulator of big business, a man of society, a voracious hunter, the first conservationist - a man of many facets and talents, even seeming contradictions. 

Morris says that he would not have been elected nowadays; presidents must have monochromatic lives (lawyers who become professional politicians) who do not diverge away from their party's mission. Any sort of interesting dimensions are shmecked out and demonized.

I'm not saying that I am not guilty of that sort of prejudgment and classification. But then again, I am sure I have been prejudged and classified. All that matters is that we don't act on it, that we can meet people with our shotgun opinions shoved to the side, clearing the mind for open and welcoming thoughts.

6 comments:

Primum Non Nocere said...

The Morris trilogy happens to be excellent. Well worth reading! Nice post!

%Shocked% said...

Interesting post! Because of sefirah, I started listening to talk-show hosts during the hours that I drive. What it sounded like to me is that the left (liberals) find/exaggerate dirt on the right (conservative) politicians, feed it to the media (controlled by the left) and BAM, there goes the candidate. Mccain wasn't a lawyer and I don't think he lost the election because of that. Obama WAS a lawyer, albeit not for very long, but I don't think that was the reason why he won. I mean, being the first African-American* president is definitely an "interesting dimension" no? Even aside from the race issue, there was a ton of "interesting" stuff about him...yet, he won.

I don't agree with Morris about that part, but as to your point that we should praise ipseity instead of denounce it as we (Jews more so than others, but this post appears to be all-inclusive so I won't continue with this train of thought..) do, I completely agree with you. It's the need for conformity that everyone wants for some reason that has brought so much pain and suffering (and general stupidity!) to the world.

*Is "Black" considered politically incorrect nowadays? I keep on hearing different opinions on the matter.

Ish Yehudi said...

Fantastic post, I think we need to recognize that individuals don't just fit into systems, we should take each person as they are.

Still, the systems and patterns exist for a reason, mostly protective purposes.

Sefardi Gal said...

Frumanista, don't listen to such judgements. I think you're amazing! I also like clothing and make-up, so what? A Jewish woman should always strive to look put together.

And btw, pre-age 24, did you wear make up on dates? :)

Princess Lea said...

PNN - thanks.

Shocked - I think "black" is now the accepted term. Is it possible that "African American" is now offensive?

Ish Yehudi - I don't think the patterns and the systems are the best option. I just spent the last week in a community where the people are beyond American expectations and standards. It was lovely. They have quirks, too, but people are not so bound.

I think protection is available as welcoming all types of Jews of all creeds and types. When my mother first came to the USA, she went to the local BY that accepted everyone - and I mean EVERYONE. There was no worries about bad influences. With tolerance there is no fear.

SG - Aw, I'm blushing. As for wearing makeup on dates, my father kept screaming at me to put on more. Then I started wearing the "good stuff" for dates, occasions, and Shabbos. Then I just started slathering it on full time. It is incredibly addictive.

%Shocked% said...

Really? Dang, I could've sworn it was the opposite... I give up...