Caturday: ‘Spanish Harlem Mona Lisa’ editionPosted: May 5, 2012
Good morning, newsjunkies — and welcome to May 5th!
A little history blurb to start your morning off… via CNN, Cinco de Mayo a Mexican import? No, it’s as American as July 4, prof says:
In his interview with CNN, Hayes-Bautista stated: “Now it’s become this big commercial holiday and a wonderful opportunity to get services and products in front of the Latino market and it even got its own postage in 1996 and in 2005 President Bush even had a Cinco de Mayo celebration at the White House.
“But if you ask why is anyone celebrating, no one knows. And then you get some people who say it shouldn’t be celebrated at all because it’s a foreign holiday — and yet it’s as American a holiday as the Fourth of July,” he said.
“No one has seemed to link it to the Civil War,” he added about what he called groundbreaking research.
UCLA history professor Stephen Aron said Hayes-Bautista’s finding is significant.
“For the general public (and even for many historians), the California origins of the Cinco de Mayo holiday come as quite a surprise (since the holiday is so generally presumed to be a Mexican holiday that was only recently imported into the United States),” Aron said in an e-mail to CNN. “That Hayes-Bautista’s book ties these origins to the American Civil War is also of great significance.”
While conducting research as director of UCLA’s Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture, David Hayes-Bautista — a UCLA professor of medicine — scoured Spanish-languish papers in California and Oregon during the 1800s, which led him to the connection between the Civil War and the Cinco de Mayo battle:
“I’m seeing how in the minds of the Spanish-reading public in California that they were basically looking at one war with two fronts, one against the Confederacy in the east and the other against the French in the south,” Hayes-Bautista said in an interview with CNN.
Very neat stuff, I must say! Check it out.
I plan to add Hayes-Bautista’s book, El Cinco de Mayo: An American Tradition, to my reading list. (You can read Chapter One at the link, which is on the UC Press website, or on your kindle via Amazon.)
Another fantastic read this morning, via Buzzfeed’s Amy Odell — Are Teenagers Better At Solving The Thin Model Problem Than “Vogue” Editors?:
Extremely thin girls have been the ideal in fashion for years — and this may be the most pushback against the super thin movement we’ve seen in a decade. So if you really are sick of it, Vogue editors, actually do something about it. Stop talking about it, stop drawing up toothless guidelines that fit into tidy press releases, and just change it. Don’t call in the tiny clothing samples for shoots. Don’t hire girls who are so thin you wonder if they have eating disorders. Don’t only shoot Adele from the neck up. And don’t talk about it. Don’t write it down. Just do it.
Like 14-year-old Julia Bluhm, from Maine, did yesterday, when she led a protest outside of Seventeen magazine’s New York office to try get the editors to feature one spread a month that features girls with a realistic appearance, who aren’t photoshopped. (She gained entré to the Seventeen editor’s office to discuss her concerns, but the magazine would not say if they would start meeting Bluhm’s painfully reasonable demands.) She did it. She up and went to New York one day, with her friends, with her 24,000 signature-strong petition in support of her cause, and just did what she needed to do.
A little self-disclosure here: I battled anorexia up close and personal during my entire adolescence through my twenties. I am a survivor of that battle. It’s a mental and emotional war that has to be refought in different ways, even after one is fortunate enough to regain physical health. I have been hesitant to share this part of my life with the Sky Dancing community up until now, even though I consider y’all my family of sorts. However, I think you can gather from my blogging on gender politics et al. that the cause of supporting women and girls so that they can lift themselves up is one that is very near and dear to me and comes from the bottom of my heart.
I see a huge void in the media–an entire audience spanning multiple generations that is not being spoken to in any comprehensive, consistent, cohesive way–at least not by any major magazine. My (very very pipe)dream job after getting a postgrad degree (either in psych or nutrition, or possibly both! yes I hope to be in school forever, that is the goal –heh!) is to become founder and editor of my own magazine for girls and women–Mona Mag, as it is tentatively titled. (Emphasis on PIPE dream.)
And with that–a baby step from my pseudonym! You can call me ‘Spanish Harlem Mona Lisa‘…or Mona the Wonk for short ;)
It’s been a long road full of baby steps. At age 14, I was too busy–starving my body, mind, and spirit to near-death–to organize a protest. The media diet I was fed as a child can be summed up by saying… during those days, Monica (my namesake) and Rachel on Friends got thinner and thinner as the actresses who portrayed them broke a glass ceiling in women’s pay.
All this to say… I salute the young Julia Bluhm for muckraking it up right outside Seventeen‘s door. What a bright young shero star she sounds like!
And before I wrap this up… one final link for you to check out this morning, from earlier in the week, about the DC couple who recently launched the website ‘A Might Girl‘:
A better approach for those of us concerned about the messages all things princess send our girls may be the one taken by D.C. residents Carolyn Danckaert and Aaron Smith.
The couple has just launched a new Web site called “A Mighty Girl.” It’s a repository of books and movies with girl empowerment themes.
“A major impetus for us in creating the site was the frustration we’ve experienced when seeking out presents for our four nieces over the past 12 years,” Danckaert said.
For Princess Week, they created a special page for “independent princesses.” It highlights classic and new works “with a non-traditional interpretation of what it means to be a princess,” Danckaert said.
Some of the books on the site include “The Apple-Pip Princess,” by Jane Ray (Candlewick, 2008) about a budding environmentalist, “The Invisible Princess,” by Faith Ringgold (Knopf, 1998) about an African American girl during slavery and “Princess Pigsty,” by Cornelia Funke (The Chicken House, 2007 ) about a princess who is banished from castle life to live with pigs and finds herself much happier.
Now, I don’t hate the concept of a Princess Week entirely–but I do LOVE and much prefer A Mighty Girl’s version of it :)
The Wapo link continues:
It’s true that women are reaching new educational and professional heights, and are also embracing more equality-minded attitudes. Still, the traditional gender messages are often strictly enforced when it comes to children.
Disney’s “Princess Week” is one example. There is ample evidence during the rest of the year, too.
Remember the introduction of girl-themed Legos with which girls are encouraged to build not a rocket ship, but a beauty salon? Remember the viral video [sic dead link; youtube removed] from this past holiday season of a little girl ranting that boys had superheroes but she had only pink frou-frou toys to choose from?
Ok, let me interject here real quick to say–if you missed that video during the holidays, you must watch it RIGHT NOW.
Back to the blog piece:
“We’ve always been dismayed by the extreme gender segregation that you see in mainstream toy stores and by the content of the toys designated as ‘girls’ toys,’” Danckaert said.
“We searched online for sites with girl empowerment product recommendations and didn’t find anything very comprehensive, although there did seem to be a lot of other people looking for these types of toys and book.”
So she and Smith, both of whom have backgrounds in advocacy work and technology, decided to create their own online store.
Ah, two advocates after my own heart.
Alright, well that’s it for me… your turn in the comments, Sky Dancers. Let’s hear what’s on your Cinco de Mayo read+rant list!