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Sunday, June 27, 2010

MTV's "Teen Mom," Why This Momma Loooves That Show

by Tanya Yvonne author of the forthcoming book “Violet Eyes”
Sure “16 and Pregnant,” is good but it is the “Teen Mom” spinoff that I make sure to never miss. It reminds me of a time when shows like “The Real World” were real. When the lives of its cast members sparked discussion about topics that many teens grapple with, yet were reluctant or unsure how to start a discourse regarding them. Like cast member Pedro Zamora’s battle with AIDS. And Tami Roman’s difficult decision to have an abortion. Though only a teen when the seasons in which Pedro and Tami were featured, I vividly recall their stories. But it is only since becoming a mother that I think back to how I then reacted to the episodes that dealt with such difficult subject matters.   

By talking with my mother. I don’t remember why my mother started watching the show with my sister and I, but I do recall the chats we had about key episodes. I felt comfortable asking questions about the possible effects an abortion procedure would have on Tami’s body. Mainly because I didn’t have to worry about my mom asking me a bunch of questions about why I wanted to know or thinking I was “in trouble.”

Being a teen at the time I had taken sex education classes that covered the risks that came with sexual activity.  Risks that included the possibly of an unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, like HIV.  Yet it wasn’t the sex ed classes, nor the awkward, formal safe sex talks with my mother that made any of those consequences real for me.  It was the many snapshots of a stranger’s life that had made all of those warnings real to the teenage me.  Which explains why I looove the show, “Teen Mom.”

Nowadays there are countless ways that our offspring can avoid talking with us parents or simply go about tuning us out.  Thanks to such wonderful things as text messaging, Facebook, You Tube, email and similar technologies.  “Teen Mom” presents a rare opportunity for parents of teenagers, especially teenage girls, to have an informal discussion about sex.  So the next time you catch your teen(s) watching the show why not just end viewing the program with them?  That is what my mother did and it worked.  She got the chance to give me the information that she felt I needed, and the teenage me got her moment to ask all those embarrassing questions:)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Betty White Factor

In our youth obsessed culture an 88-year-old Betty White is showing that along with wisdom, age can also bring out one’s it-factor. The Betty White factor, the idea that we get better as we age, could not have come at a better time for me. While most people think of July as the month in which we celebrate our nation’s independence, I think of it as the time when I edge closer to the other side of that proverbial hill. Yes July is my birthday month. And lately I find myself pausing in the mirror searching for new wrinkles. It is not like I can avoid thinking about such things. Online, the television, newspapers, magazines, standing in a store checkout line, no matter where I happen to be there are screaming words and images that convey that the older version of me is something to be feared. Not according to the Betty White factor. 
Thinking back to the 18-year-old Tanya and I can’t help but to shudder just recalling the former hairstyles not to mention some life choices. Sure the skin was tighter and wrinkle free but the lack of knowledge. If I could go back and chat with the 18-year-old me I assure you the phrases: just don’t, bad idea, ignore his call, and stupid move would come up often.  Age has given me skin that is not as firm or smooth as it once was, but it has also given me something else. Experience and a confidence that only women of a certain age can understand:) A combo that helped to push me to aggressively pursue my writing when everyone else was shouting, GO TEACH. I hope the Betty White factor is not just another trend for she has truly inspired me.
I will no longer dread the fast approaching birthday or the following ones for that matter. Instead of counting wrinkles I will look forward to the day when I will look in the mirror and see that older version of myself. A smarter, it-factor version of a bygone girl that was once quite shy. And it appears that I am not alone in my thinking. I believe Hollywood has discovered something that we women have known all along.  That we can still be leading ladies even after we hit 25. Meryl Streep in, “It’s Complicated,” Betty White and her cast mates are all over the age of 45 as well as the cast of the recent “Sex and the City 2" movie. Sure heads will always turn whenever a new Megan Fox type (supposed younger version of Angelina Jolie) bursts on to the scene, but it is the post 30 it-factor version of that type that will have figured out how to keep those heads from turning away.