Posts Tagged ‘ Mom2Summit ’

My Mommy Blogger Bully

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

I once joked that I wanted a stalker. It would symbolize that I really made it “big.” I made the joke during a hiatus from shooting my Food Network show, The Best Of. In the interim, a company hired me to host hundreds of syndicated TV segments about housekeeping and cooking tips. It was a boring studio job and we cranked them out like sausages. It wasn’t creative, but the crew and I really became tight over the years. My audio guy, Bob, became my pretend stalker. He’d lurk behind me on the set; sometimes even follow me to lunch, as only a good stalker should do.

But like most things I’ve done in television, the gig ended and I went back in the world of a has-been-that’s-really-never been. Until now.

I am no longer heavily immersed in the TV world. I am 80% mom, 17% wife, 3% blogger. I’m not even close to the top mommy bloggers in this world, and yet, yet, yet… I have a stalker. Either that or a desperately bored mommy blogger, whose literary gifts are questionable at best. Whatever her story and motive, she has chosen to take time–lots of it– to rip me (both as a human being and as a writer) to pieces. But this seems to be her MO:  bashing individuals. In other words, I don’t just have a stalker. I have a bully too.

What I’ve loved most about the mommy blogging world is the encouragement from other bloggers, whether or not you agree with the specifics of what they write.  At conferences like BlogHer and Mom2Summit, the big guns, like Liz Gumbinner (Mom-101) go out of their way to make us little people feel welcome, loved and supported. It’s not the competitive frenzy you would expect from a bunch of women. In fact, Mom2Summit’s message this year was about women supporting and empowering other women. The main focus from the sponsor, Dove, was on tween and teenage girls and how to make them feel less self-conscious about their looks. One of the saddest statistics presented was that 1 in 5 girls quit doing what they love because of self-esteem specifically related to beauty.

Clearly this woman wasn’t at the conference or if she was, she took the message and ran the other way with it. How do I know this? One of her main points was about my hair. She actually posted a picture of me and made fun of it. Can you imagine doing that? Seriously. Think about it: taking someone’s picture and publicly attacking it? Here is what she says:

7. Okay, but the hair. I can’t let it go. Homegirl has hella money and lives in Los Angeles. There is no reason for her to be using a Flowbee to cut her hair.

Perhaps more perplexing than her hair-bashing is that she is talking like a white suburban teenager who is trying to “be black.” An odd stylistic choice, especially because further down in her blog she accuses me of being a racist. (Don’t worry, you can read it in its entirety. I’ve cut and pasted the whole thing below.)

What’s ironic about the hair is that she is right. I do need a new picture up there. That one was taken on my first outing after having Emmett. It was a month after his birth and the first time I put on makeup. But is it that egregious? No. Her comments though are petty and mean-spirited.

She says she gets “sick schadenfreude” from my writing. In other words, she takes pleasure in my misery. Huh? What? I must have cut off her limbs in another life.

I have an adopted brother and sister. They are black. My mother was a crack addict at the end of her life. I describe them in a recent blog and refer to my family as a “motley crew.” Which we were, if there ever was one. For which she says the following:

Guys. Cornrows? Huge black afro? Are her step-siblings…black?! She was, like, clinically incapable of leaving that detail out or you know, refer to her siblings as siblings and not give the far more exotic title of ”adopted siblings.” See guys, she’s not all milquetoast. Also, let’s all take a sharp inhale for her describing her interracial family as a “motley crew.”

“…After all, I haven’t had such a wince-y read since I saw a student paper that referred to trans women as “shemales” and realized that everything this student knew about transexuals came from porn.”

I put myself out there and can expect people to poke away. But this seems almost like trolling. There’s a big difference between legitimate criticism/disagreement and personal attacks. I can take the former. The latter isn’t so fun.

She lists seven deadly sins of mine–all related to my bio. In it, she mocks my “Fearless” title. As those who read me know, I write about my life with absolute honesty. I’m not afraid to write about my anxiety, my struggle with depression, my upbringing and yes, people who attack me for no apparent reason. So how is ”Fearless” not accurate? I think homegirl needs a dictionary.

I would further argue that it is “Fearless” of me to admit how shitty her post made me feel. I felt demeaned, belittled, ugly and stupid. And I have a very thick skin. I am NOT asking for anyone’s sympathy here. At all. But for those few seconds that I felt shitty, it made me wonder how a 13-year old girl who gets made fun of for her bad haircut or for being fat feels like?  I don’t want to be melodramatic about this, but this woman illustrates perfectly the point we should teach our kids about bullies: they don’t matter. However, it is easier said than done.

Even though I want to, I’m not going to go through and defend every line and the flagrant assumptions she makes about me. I particularly refuse to defend the love of my children and when and why we had them.

I will say she is going to be an extremely disappointed stalker when she finds out I’m just a mommy blogger making less than the cost of 3 Starbucks latte’s for my posts. She assumes I have publicity people working with me and Parents to write my bio, take pictures, edit me, and publicize me. She calls me a rich, white woman. Does she know when I began my reporting career in Rapid City, SD that I qualified for food stamps? That I have become successful by working really hard? Does she have any clue how much I give back? No. She was on a mission to be hateful and hand-picked some of my specific posts to mold them–and me–into her cowardly genre.

Ironically, she actually asks for “donations” on her “ad-free” blog. Why not write about the Newtown parents and donate to the organization Sandy Hook Promise? Or to those who lost their homes in Hurricane Sandy? These are posts I have written about, donated to, and encouraged others to do the same. But asking for donations to her blog? Panhandling for her “wit”? Beyond tacky.

It would be easy to pick on and compare her to having 80s era porn star hair, or mock her bio for portraying herself as a cutting edge, too-cool-for-school writer but then bragging about an award from the Readers’ Digest, that radical, forward-thinking publication, in the next sentence–but that would be too easy. And too mean. So I won’t. Even though I just did. See how that happened? Clever, no? Anyway…

The thing is, in reading some of her posts that aren’t hate mongering, it seems we have the same take on some major parenting issues.  I think she just really wants to hate me. Bizarre, right?

As a sidenote: she lives in Hollywood. She knows enough about me and with all her “Los Angeles” references.  Why didn’t she reach out to go grab a coffee? I’m serious. If she’s that obsessed with me then at least attempt to get to know me before bashing me behind a computer screen. I think she would have been pleasantly surprised and perhaps dropped her diatribe mission.

She did learn something once from her computer screen. After bashing sorority girls in a post, a commenter wrote: “Indiscriminately bagging on sorority girls is lazy writing.”

I would add, “Indiscriminately bagging on individual bloggers is lazy writing.” It’s also mean-spirited, obnoxious and pointless.

One person did comment on her post about me and the general purpose of her blog. She wrote:

“I really liked your article about attachment parenting and came here via the bloggess, but now I’m wondering are a lot of your pieces about taking down other people? I’m not really into anti sites.”

That right there should tell her a lot. Sadly, it probably won’t. But on the off-chance any of this resonates with her, here’s a link to the National Bullying Prevention Center. If nothing else, her children might need it.

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Here is her blog folks, in all its glory:

I am a little bit in love with Jill Cordes, she of the “Fearless Feisty Mama” blog on Parents.com who made a“project” out of teaching her nanny about the world according to rich, white lady. It seems like I might not be the only one since I get a surprising amount of search traffic with her name, most notably with the search “jill cordes nipple.” I’d love to hear anyone’s theories of what that might be about.

There is so much that’s amazing about Jill Cordes. I mean, her bio:

Jill

Wow. Okay, so like, some things about that bio:

  1. How the hell does she think teenaged Fia and Emmet are going to feel when it first occurs to them to Google their mom and they learn that their mother never wanted them and she only became a mom because she got hammered on a little vacay with the mister?
  2. Is that bio supposed to make her sound wild and loosey-goosey? Because I’m all for wild and loosey-goosey and maybe I’m just grouchy about such things after being told my whole life that I was a “camping trip accident,” but I think it crosses the taste line.
  3. Why does she describe her children primarily in terms of their conception? Is this bio not an introduction? Would you ever in a million years introduce yourself to someone by saying where and under what degree of insobriety you conceived your children?
  4. Oh, hey. Kate Gosselin called and she wants her… No. I can’t go finish that joke. It’s too hacky. ZING! Ugh. Sorry.
  5. Can you imagine in a thousand million years if someone other than a rich white woman had that bio? Jill Cordes would have to make a “project” out of her.
  6. I would never just click around the internet and poke at moms’ bios on their blogs, but this is Jill Cordes’s bio on her parents.com blog. It’s written in third person, possibly by someone other than herself. The lady is surely getting paid by Parents and thus has an editor. Furthermore, she’s a “television personality” and must have PR people. This is not just some random “mommy blog” bio. People signed off on that. Admittedly, the whole bio is less…weird than this snippet, but someone okayed that as the bit to appear on her blog’s main page.
  7. Okay, but the hair. I can’t let it go. Homegirl has hella money and lives in Los Angeles. There is no reason for her to be using a Flowbee to cut her hair.

In her defense, there’s another fellow who blogs under her “Fearless Fesity Mama” banner and his bio includes the following sentence: “He has written the fiction book ‘The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt’ and is working on releasing a parenting humor book.” There’s a lot going on in that sentence, but let’s just stick with the phrase “fiction book.” Is that not a novel? Isn’t that what we call those things? Perhaps a novella?

There are a lot of mysterious things about “Fearless Feisty Mama.” Like, does Parents.com not have someone to install a spam filter? And does it ever bother Jill that she so often writes about her anxieties and fears but the word “fearless” is right there in the title? Or that about a quarter of the posts are written by a dude even though there’s “mama” in the title?

The reason I keep reading is the sick schadenfreude I enjoy when she reports that her hypnotist/healer tells her:

Would you rather be right…or be a mom? Because your kids are going to f-ck up a lot, and if you are wound this tight, you’re going to have some f-cked up kids.

She’s vulnerable enough to let us in on that moment and I credit her for that, but I think this one passage about going to church when she was a kid conveys what I find so frustrating about her:

My parents would pull up in a big cargo van that my mom used for her plant business. They’d open the side door and we four kids would come tumbling out. My adopted brother Carter would bounce in with his huge black Afro and my sister Tanya would follow with her neatly woven cornrows. Kelly, my biological brother, and I would lead the way.

“Come on you guys, we are going to be late!” I’d say, glad to be the older sibling/ring leader. We were a motley crew, no doubt.

Guys. Cornrows? Huge black afro? Are her step-siblings…black?! She was, like, clinically incapable of leaving that detail out or you know, refer to her siblings as siblings and not give the far more exotic title of ”adopted siblings.” See guys, she’s not all milquetoast. Also, let’s all take a sharp inhale for her describing her interracial family as a “motley crew.”

It’s this kind of tone deafness that keeps bringing me back to her blog. I kind of want to sneak into her house, kidnap her and then take her to a freshman social studies class. After all, I haven’t had such a wince-y read since I saw a student paper that referred to trans women as “shemales” and realized that everything this student knew about transexuals came from porn. Jill Cordes has an interesting background and could probably write a heckova memoir about her bipolar, crack-addicted now-deceased mother, but she just sorta fumbles right when I want her to…I don’t know how to complete a football metaphor…uh, run with the ball?

Also, there’s this troubling bit about changing her last name:

So why I am changing it? Because I feel like a partial outsider when we travel as a family. My kids and Phil all have the name Johnston. I am the odd-woman out. [...] However, I have to confess another hesitation in doing this. It’s the vain side of me. I don’t like the way “Jill Johnston” sounds. My initials would be JJ. It feels campy.

Fuck her. JJ sounds awesome.

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Photo of Nelson Muntz courtesy of simpsons.wikia.com 

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Mom 2.0 Summit: Why Women Need Women

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

I had such a carefree, fun time at Mom2.0Summit. I have been entwined in a real estate issue (if anyone has bought or sold a house, you know what I’m going through) that is testing my absolute limit of what I can handle. So when Parents asked me to go on their behalf a few weeks ago, I jumped on it.

I realized how important it was for me to connect with other moms and to recharge my batteries. The conference is for mom bloggers, but what is cool is it’s such a supportive bunch of women. We all want readers and we all have something to say. Or at least we think we do. Ha! It could make for a competitive situation.  Instead, it’s the opposite. It’s about women supporting women and encouraging each other.  Which was appropriate considering who the main sponsor was…

Now you know I don’t endorse or do much commercial stuff on my blog. But I was able to attend the conference thanks to Dove. I gotta say the company has an amazing campaign. It’s all about empowering girls. Lisa Ling has joined on with their new initiative “Make Girls Unstoppable” (see my interview with her here). Did you know 6 out of 10 girls give up what they love to do–be it gymnastics, art, raising their hand in class, etc, because they don’t like the way they look? The company is making a commitment to reach 15 million girls by 2015 with self-esteem programming.  I think that’s pretty damn cool.

While at the conference I sat down with Jess Weiner, a social media strategist. She’s also Dove’s global self-esteem ambassador. Her focus is on women and girls. I wanted to know in this day and age if it’s even harder for girls to have a positive image of themselves than when we were growing up.

“Well, I wasn’t documenting myself with Instagram when I was a girl but if I was, would I feel the same anxiety girls have about their beauty? Probably. I had it anyway but I didn’t have Facebook or Twitter or Instagram to feed me everyone else’s reaction to it. Now with technology and the click of a mouse girls are completely viral and global and while that is amazing on so many levels, it adds to the pressure of the images they have everyday. So I’m not sure if it’s gotten worse, but it’s gotten different.”

Separately, Dove recently did these sketch ads where an artist asks women to describe themselves. The artist sits behind a canvas and never physically sees them. Instead, he asks them to describe themselves and he sketches from that.  It’s incredible (and frankly depressing) to see how women view themselves. It’s not pretty. But it should be. We need to feel better about ourselves and our looks. Be less critical. More confident. And pass that on to our girls.

So I guess in thinking about it, Mom2.0Summit didn’t only give me a break from my regular mom world, but it also inspired me. Even on a micro level for the kind of girl I want Fia to be and the issues to be aware of. Plus, it was good to get out of my comfort zone. Not to mention 3 straight nights of uninterrupted sleep. I can’t wait for the next one.

Me with Jess Weiner

 

 

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Mom2Summit: My Interview With Lisa Ling

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

She has traveled the world reporting on social injustices–with an emphasis on the plight of women and girls. She has brought awareness to the underground world of human sex trafficking. She has been a fierce advocate to toughen the laws and prosecute those who prey on the weak and vulnerable. For more than two decades, Lisa Ling has been a fighter for those who don’t have a voice. She is journalism at its best.

Now this life-changing woman has given life–to a baby girl, Jett Ling Song. How has that impacted her world? Her perspective? Her career as host of Our America with Lisa Ling on OWN–The Oprah Winfrey Network?

I sat down with her at Mom2Summit, where we had a mom-to-mom conversation.

Me: I ran marathons, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, and motherhood, more than anything, totally kicked my ass. You’re only 8 weeks in, so you’re still in the fog a bit. But you have done so many things and traveled the world. How has the adjustment to motherhood been for you?

Lisa: I’m just going to say this: So far, it’s easy because we’ve had a really easy baby. She only cries when she’s hungry and has a dirty diaper. But every single person keeps saying, “Just wait, it will change.” And it’s just changed. She now, for the last couple of days, has been almost inconsolable, just crying all the time, hungry all the time, so I’ve definitely been deprived of sleep. I’m definitely someone who doesn’t need a lot of sleep…but that part, lack of sleep, has been really really difficult. And just to figure out what the needs are of this little life. On the one hand it’s been hugely gratifying but it’s definitely not an easy process.

Me: We’ve all been there. How are you handling work right now? Are you taking some time off?

Lisa:  I gave birth in March, I’m not traveling until June. But I already started to work again. Two weeks after, my mind got really numb and I just really needed adult engagement.  I got an opportunity to work on a show in LA, to shoot part of a documentary, and I just had to go for it (laughs).”

Me: Wow, 2 weeks out, that’s pretty amazing!

Lisa: Well, it started at 2 weeks but I didn’t actually start shooting until about 4 weeks out. And I had to pump in people’s homes…but we are lucky in that we have had someone helping us. And I think that’s something people need to convey because you see all these celebrity moms out there and the perception is they can do it all, but they have sooo much help. And it’s kind of an unfair image to project for many women, because it is really hard and if you have help, you should indicate you have help. Because it’s not fair to put all these false thoughts in people’s heads.

Me: Yeah, I get it. I had a night nurse for 3 weeks and kept her for 7 months. I had to have sleep to function with baby #2.

Lisa: For me, having help is the benefit of waiting. Fifteen yeas ago I would not have been able to afford help.

Me: So she is 8 weeks, which means what? She’s rolling over?

Lisa: Not quite even rolling. Just starting to smile and laugh out loud. But there’s something miraculous that I have to brag about. On her first day of life she was laying on my chest and her head popped up and she looked at me. The nurse said, “I can’t believe what I just saw. That this baby held her head up.” And from that day on, she has been holding her head up.

Me: I saw your ultrasound on Anderson Cooper. Is she living up to her reputation as an active baby?

Lisa: Not really.  She sleeps nonstop, but she is obviously very strong.

Me: How has your husband Paul adjusted?

Lisa: Paul has been wonderful in that there is not much that he can do. But he really does make an effort. As soon as he comes home from work he is the first to volunteer to change the diapers for the rest of the night.  I have to acknowledge him for that, but the truth of the matter is there is not a whole lot he can do.

…I will say my husband in 8 weeks is a different person. He’s never been an overtly affectionate person. But the way he is, the way he just looks at her…he will kneel next to her crib for an hour just staring at her. The look in his eyes is something I’ve never seen before.

Me: I know my husband found parenthood just as profound as I did.

You have an eco-friendly home. How eco-friendly are you as a mom?

Lisa: I wish I could say I was doing cloth diapers, but she just sh-ts too much. Let’s put it this way: you know the first day after you have a baby, they want you to have one poop and one pee in one feeding? My daughter had five poops. She was quite the overachiever.  With the amount of diapers I go through there is no way I could do cloth. We have converted to all eco-friendly products, so we’re making an effort but we’re not overzealous about it.

Me: I think the first day with Fia we went through 23 diapers. I also found that I was pretty crazy about not using too many paper towels before my kids came, but I swear that has gone out the window.  I use so many. You will probably find the same thing when she starts eating. Because then they can really start to make a mess.

Lisa: This is going to be the best thing for me because I am notoriously OCD. Notorious. In some ways it is helping to make me heal (laughs), so to speak.

Me: Are you a clean freak?

Lisa: I am. We have a lot of glass in our house and when my niece runs towards the windows, I am like “Noooo!  Stop!”

[pause--here is where I tell her about how my hypnotherapy helped cure my cleaning obsession.]

Me: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve had so far?

Lisa: Sleep when your baby is sleeping.

Me: Are you following it?

Lisa: I’m trying to. I’ve never been a huge napper but now I find I need it. Especially because I’m running on fumes.

Me: Any bad advice? (she thinks for a bit…)

Lisa: Chinese people like to bundle their babies up (into like four layers). My baby is sweating like a beast. But I find my baby stops crying when I take off some of the layers. So that is the bad advice I got from the Chinese aunties.

Me: How was your birth? Did you go into labor?

Lisa: I had a planned C-section and I cried the entire day before I had the baby.

Me: How come?

Lisa: I was just terrified. Because life as I knew it was going to be different forever. I have always been kind of a control freak and this was something that was so completely out of my control. I was inconsolable.

Sidenote: I get it. I had 9 months of therapy because I was so worried I’d love Wayne Sanchez more than my kid. But as we moms know, it just doesn’t happen that way.

Me: I found that in the beginning, as much as I loved my baby, there was this major adjustment to the mundane and tediousness of the day.  I remember just trying to hang in there with it but not sure where my purpose was. How was the adjustment for you? You mentioned wanting to work a little bit after 2 weeks.

Lisa: I felt very cloistered in my home and needed to flex my mind and get engaged and have a little more adult conversation. I felt like I was getting a little numb. I love being with my baby, I absolutely love it. But I also love to have adult stimulation and that’s really important to me. I think I’m a better mom as a result because I have enriched myself. And that’s not for everyone. Not everyone needs that.

Me: Did you feel guilty leaving?

Lisa: No, not really because I really do feel like I’ll be better for her.

Me: What made you decide to have a baby?

Lisa: Being together with my husband. I hadn’t wanted to have a kid until I met my partner. We’ve had a couple miscarriages, but I’d always felt if we weren’t successful biologically, we’d adopt. Certainly life has changed in such a positive way. But for those women who are struggling [with whether to have a kid] an important message needs to be conveyed that if you decide that having kids isn’t for you, that’s okay too.

Me: Tell me about your involvement with Dove.

Note to everyone: Dove is the title sponsor of the conference and announced their latest campaign, which Lisa helped kick off at Mom2Summit, “Let’s Make Girls Unstoppable.” (#girlsunstoppable). 

Lisa: I’ve always been a huge proponent and fan of their campaigns. I would love to see more brands follow suit.

The idea of trying to make girls feel unstoppable is a message that needs to be projected and promoted. Too often girls feel insecure about their looks. I mean 6 out of 10 girls stop doing what they love most because of what they look like. And if you think of the images that are so pervasive and the kinds of women girls are growing up revering, it’s a little daunting.

And now, as a mother of a daughter, it does scare me. I applaud Dove for wanting to instill a sense of self esteem in girls across this country and to actually put their money where their mouth is, and to give it numbers…to try and inject self esteem in 15 million girls by 2015. When they asked me to be part of it I was so in.

 Me: Great. It does have a powerful message. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk. Now go home and kiss that baby.

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