Observed at My Family Reunion:

*A little three year old girl cousin sang karaoke with her mom and aunt to “Hit Me Baby One More Time”. Aunt won a very big beauty contest a number of years ago. We could barely hear little cousin’s voice from her wicker chair hot seat.

*A cousin asked me to watch her kid while she cleaned up in the kitchen. When the child got fussy, I brought him over to his father who was sitting and drinking a beer. Dad said, “Take him to his mommy.” I figured out a way to calm the fuss rather than disturb mommy.

*All the women in our family got up to sing “We Are Family” and we noticed that 2/3 of the entire group was on stage. This was because, I observed, women live longer than men.

*Many people who had not seen each other in a long time shared a lot of hugs and laughter.

*The event was held in a part of the country that values money and beauty much more than where I currently live. Despite my awareness of this fact, my body image was pummeled.

*My uncle and his cousin got on stage to sing a homo social love song (I don’t recall which one— something about not being able to live without one another). This was uncomfortable for me, but apparently hilarious for everyone else.

*A girl cousin I grew up with told me about her experiences in China. She mentioned that the young women she met there lived in dorms. These dorms had scales in the dining area so the ladies could weigh themselves before and after meals. She said the women she met had very poor body image. I have been unable to verify the scales claim.

*I bonded with the people in my family (especially women), and I let them know that I love them.

Lots of other things happened as well. I am conflicted because despite the problematic events speckled throughout the weekend, I really enjoyed feeling like a part of something. I liked contributing to my family. In any case, these are my honest feelings and I am working them out.

Thank you for reading.

About smash
Women's liberationist.

6 Responses to Observed at My Family Reunion:

  1. Mary Sunshine says:

    Thank you for writing. 🙂 I love vignettes of women’s lives.

  2. smash says:

    Thank you for reading, Mary Sunshine! I appreciate it.

  3. Holly says:

    “The event was held in a part of the country that values money and beauty much more than where I currently live. Despite my awareness of this fact, my body image was pummeled.”
    what a coincidence – i am currently at a family reunion in orange county, and yup, same. 1-800-GET-THIN billboards, etc, the works. i’ll be so glad to get back to my hippie bubble…

  4. KatieS says:

    When I read that comment, it reminded me of one reason I only rarely watch television, movies, etc. I can immediately tell that my body image is affected, even though I am aware of it.

    Even though my family is different, your post reminded me of some of the things I like about getting together with my family. The women stand out much more than the men do as we age. Older women are a work of art. The older women in my family have been beacons for me in many ways. I can see the ways that they resisted the patriarchy and celebrate that!

  5. smash says:

    Holly & KatieS, it’s so hard to maintain a good body image in the land of the sharks. I’ve been home about a week, and I’m still working on this. I work hard on maintaining this, and it’s discouraging how easily it comes undone in certain circumstances. Holly, what a coincidence indeed!

    KatieS, you are so right about the women in the family. They shine! The women in my family are very, very strong but they are also very p-compliant, unfortunately. But then their spouses die, and they change a bit.

    My (beloved) grandpa passed away this past year, and was notably absent from this celebration. Things were different without the head patriarch– they seemed much freer.

    My grandma took care of grandpa for ~15 years until he died. Now she’s able to do zumba dancing, and have frequent meet ups with her nursing friends, and do all sorts of things she wasn’t able to do before when he took up so much of her time and energy. Death brings change, and the death of a spouse can be a boon in disguise (this is not meant to discount the mourning of a lost loved one).

    Thanks to all for your comments!

  6. I love your blog, Smash!

    As a teenager, it was very hard for me to watch MTV, which was all the rage, of course, because I *immediately* felt so bad about my body.

    I’ve read that in the U.S., even in the period of the Great Depression, restaurants had scales for women to weigh themselves, as you describe in present day China. It’s hard for me to believe that even back then women were so weight obsessed.

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