I’m not sure if this is total TV talk today, but it’s what occurred to me in a very long stream of consciousness moment that seemed, at first, to make sense. Let me take you along.
It started with me thinking about a person with a hyphenated last name then I started wondering if they were born with a hyphenated name or if they took it on when they married. I really don’t care how people come about their last names as it really is none of my business, any more than it is my business what or how they name their children. But I also know that I am in the minority in the crowds in which I run these days. In other words, with the people I hang out with through work, church or choice, I’m one of the few who opted to change my surname to my husband’s when I married.
Which got me thinking about why this young feminist (which is what I was when I got married, now I’m just a middle-aged feminist—at least I’m hoping this is middle age, as I’ve still got a lot to do), made that choice. It was a simple one for me. I hadn’t really published under my old name or had any other really recognizable work. And it didn’t much matter to me whether I had my dad’s name or my husband’s. I knew, though, that I would have children with this guy, so I chose his name so our kids would all have the same last name and we would be an easily identifiable pod.
So this is where my thoughts went, from that hyphenated name, and then I started thinking about why people do and don’t change their names. I mean, if I’d started writing a column with my unmarried name, or a novel, or run for office or become a famous teen star with my old name, then I’d probably have kept it.
Then, of course, my mind leapt to “teen star” and I started thinking, well, if I was Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan, I might start thinking about a little less name recognition right about now.
Which lead me, of course, to start judging the behavior of these young ladies, which then lead me to think about how I lived in my early twenties–without the free reign bought by endless riches, beauty, and a body worthy of showing off. I stopped my judgment of these girls, remembering that they are still girls but wondering why I was able to pull myself back from the ledge these girls seem to want to jump off at full throttle in a Humvee.
And then that train wreck that is my mind took me in a whole ‘nother direction. I mean, what woman has not, at some point, uttered the words ‘I should just shave my head” while trying to fix an unfixable ‘do? But we don’t do it, do we? Something always brings those of us who are not rich, nor powerful, nor stunningly beautiful back to reality when standing in front of that mirror, wondering WHAT to do with our hair. Heck, something stops even the wealthy and the beautiful.
Where does TV fit into this? I’m sure I could make a case for television glorifying this type of behavior, setting our girls up with ideas about who or what they should be or care about. But I won’t, because as much as this horrifyingly self-serving and self-destructive behavior has been on television lately, my girls seem to have their heads on straight about who and what they are.
And it is that clear-headedness that will serve them and help them decide–for themselves–if they should hyphenate or not, shave their heads or not, and also to learn how to be a part of the world without always having to be the center of it.