The most wasted of all days is one without laughter – E.E. Cummings

Category: The Struggle Is Real

Food for Thought

This week, General Mills announced that they will be removing all artificial flavorings and dyes from their cereal lines; goodbye Yellow #6, it’s been real.

Seriously though, I watched a news report about the GM secret lab and how they are working to substitute the artificial dyes and flavorings with natural stuff – instead of using red dye, for example, they are extracting the color out of a fruit like cherries to give the cereal its highly-coveted red color. The whole thing was very Mission Impossible meets Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: two parts amazing to one part ‘duh’, Baker Aker. Why didn’t someone think of this before?!?

I have to give General Mills some major mom-thumbs-up for this move. It was probably a lot of work to make these changes but hopefully those health-conscious moms that care what their kids eat will go to the store in droves to buy the new ‘flavored-by-broccoli’ Trix.

This unexpected change in my world (seriously, we eat a lot of cereal in this house) left me in a thoughtful mood, wondering what else I could do to change my food world for the better. How can I contribute to this ever-growing food consciousness that is sweeping the nation? What can I do to feel better about the products that we are eating? And then it hit me: obviously big food production companies are reading my blog so maybe I should say something in behalf of consumers everywhere to try and convince them to make some changes to our favorite products. So, with that in mind, I present to you. . .

Food Alterations to Carlee’s Adored Modified Products (better known as F.A.T.C.A.M.P.)

Below is a list of suggested alterations to food products that are widely consumed. The good news for all of you major food production companies is that after some intensive research on my part, the changes that I am suggesting are pretty simple and would require only slight modifications to the current product offering and could potentially increase sales. It’s basically a win-win. So without further ado:

Oreos

oreos2The invention of Double Stuf Oreos basically ruined the regular Oreo as we know it; who wants to settle for the ‘regular’ amount of filling when such abundance is available two shelves down and to the right? The issue is that by putting Double Stuf on the packaging, you are instantly giving me a visual of trying to stuff myself into my jeans after eating these cookies. The name just isn’t appealing in the slightest.

So, my proposal is this: rename the Double Stuf Oreos to just ‘Oreos’. Then, in a gesture that will surely increase sales, change the name of the previously ‘regular’ Oreos to Half Stuf Oreos. This accomplishes a couple of things: it acknowledges that the amount of filling in the Double Stuf Oreos is actually the correct amount and how God initially intended them to be made. (Apology accepted). Second, it will make new Half Stuf Oreo buyers feel better about their consumption choice – you can practically market them as a healthy alternative. Welcome to Diet-ville, Oreo; it’s good to see you.

Big Mac

Is there a ‘Small Mac’ somewhere that I am unaware of? I feel like I am pretty astute to the ways of the fast food market and in all of my years, I am yet to encounter a mini version of the Big Mac. Is the adjective (that’s the word ‘Big’ for all of you Math and Science majors) really necessary? Nobody really wants to order anything with the word ‘Big’ in front of it. “I’m already at McDonald’s so I think we are both already keenly aware of my choices today, thank you.”

I propose that we rename the ‘Big Mac’ to the ‘Mac’; or, if an adjective is absolutely necessary, let’s use something flashier like . . . well . . . flashy. Yes, the ‘Flashy Mac’. Think of how much more enjoyable ordering that would be: “I’ll take a large Coke and a Flashy Mac.” Initial research shows that not only will consumers be more confident in their ordering choices but that morale of the McD’s drive-through workers will increase three fold.

Salt and Vinegar

World, I know many of you are wondering what I could possibly do to alter the chip goodness that is Salt and Vinegar. Well, I’ll tell you. MAKE THE RATIO CONSISTENT FOR CRYING OUTLOUD! Nothing ruins my morning . . . I mean my late afternoon . . . like biting into a S&V potato chip and immediately getting the sense that the top layer of my tongue is going to be burned off by what feels like a flesh-eating overload of vinegar. Seriously, it’s that bad. Most regular potato chips taste the same so I don’t know why some companies that make the S&V go so far as to eliminate my taste buds entirely. Is your product tester a masochist? You’ve missed the mark on my taste for the tangy.

I propose that every chip company that makes S&V send a secret spy into the Pringles factory, high-jack a can of their S&V and get to work copying the recipe. Or maybe you could go to your local grocery store and accomplish the same thing but it seems less fun and less ‘we’re trying’ that way. Their flavoring is always consistent, despite what you would assume about flavors and their ability to intensify while in a tight cylinder.

Speaking of that can. . . .

Pringles

I’m wondering if Pringles actually started out as a toddler snack. You know how they have regular granola bars and then “toddler granola bars”? They are inherently the same thing but come in different packaging just to make it fun and encourage the kiddies to eat up. I believe that’s how Pringles started because that chip can was clearly made for a three-year-old’s hand to be able to reach all the way to the bottom. I basically have to dislocate my pinky finger in order to get my claws in there. Do you know how difficult it is to pick up a stack of chips with your middle and third finger without crushing them into oblivion? Of course you do, we’ve all eaten Pringles. It’s a tragedy because Pringles is right, “Once you pop, you can’t stop” . . . until your hand gets stuck in the can and you have to call the fire department to free you and you spend fifteen minutes explaining that you were actually trying to get the Cheeze-Ums out for your daughter and you were really only grabbing two but when your hand got stuck, you panicked and inadvertently grabbed 15 chips . . . anyway, I digress. The point: you’ll stop. I promise.

I propose an expansion of the can. I appreciate the cylinder design because in general, it does keep the chips in better shape than other pre-historic chip containers (don’t even get me started on the balloons that are chip bags) but the cylinder itself is too dang small! Now you are going to fire back at me and say “It’s the right size to cradle the chips – too much larger and it wouldn’t serve its purpose.”   Good point. But to that I say, “Then increase the size of the chips as well.” Duh, Pringles. Duh. My pinky and our local fire department thank you.

You guys, this advocacy stuff is really up my alley. Seriously, I feel so much better having voiced my concerns. Feeling like you’ve made a difference in the health and self-esteem of moms just like me is an important part of what my blog is all about.

Because these changes will likely come to fruition (that’s another big one – it basically means ‘it will happen’ it doesn’t mean that all of the above-mentioned products will change to fruit, don’t worry) and you’ll probably see me on G.M.A. in the next ‘Food Expose’ story, feel free to leave your feedback on the food items that you’d like to be changed and I’ll see if I can slip them into my interview with Robin Roberts. If we’re going to save America, we need to do it together.

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Naturally Beautiful

This morning, GMA ran a story about the power of makeup. I would generally have no input on stories like this because I keep mascara for over a year. (That should tell you all that you need to know about my relationship with Cover Girl.) But I found this story particularly amusing. Here’s why:

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Errr merrrr gerrrrsh.

Apparently women all around the world are posting videos of themselves doing a “half face” makeup transformation to show what they look like with and without makeup; it’s supposed to empower them by letting them see what they could look like if they would spend the time to apply a little gloss.

I love this story for so many reasons. First, to avoid looking shallow, GMA repeated at least 47 times that really, this experiment shows you how beautiful you are without makeup. They wanted to make this point SO much that they did two live demos on air:

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You’ll notice that not only is their makeup done on one half of their face, but their hair is only done on one half of their heads. Way to keep it neutral, GMA. We bloggers like to call that an ‘even playing field.’

Second, GMA called the video clip ‘emotionally honest.’ I feel like that’s a tagline that you should use when discussing actual issues but not this; the vlogger wasn’t emotional in any sense about this, in fact, quite the contrary. (Sidenote for the editing department: when trying to invoke emotional sentiment about how we look and (in turn) how we feel about ourselves, play Aguilera’s ‘You are Beautiful’ as an undertrack. It gets us every time.)

De Jager (the vlogger) talks in her video about how you can just play with makeup for fun and become whoever you want to for a day, the likes of which include a couple of the Kardashian/Jenner brood and J-Lo. (Maybe that was the emotional part? Admitting out loud that you’d want to be one of those people for a day?) Anyway, she is talented as heck and just got seven million people to agree with her and got on morning television. Dry that tear, girl. Dry that tear.

My warning: don’t try this at home. This girl is crazy talented and you probably aren’t. In reality, this is what having half of your face made up really does to your confidence:

(if video doesn’t play, click here)

“Good. Not so good.” It’s a simple point, really.

Near the end of the report, a GMA contributor notes that the purpose of makeup is to “make you look like your best self.” I totally agree with that sentiment and the fact that makeup can be fun (I assume, I wouldn’t know, really.), but that is not what is happening here. Women are using makeup to make them look like a completely different self (see note above about looking like J-Lo for a day), which is a good idea until you are getting ready for your second date and you can’t remember who you were on the first one.

Fellas, beware. Those eyebrows may not even exist. Be sure to take your lady love to a pool this summer, give her a good dunk and pray that you haven’t been duped by a face-painting aficionado.

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They call him Two-Face for a reason, y’all.

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Support Breastfeeding . . . but only after a spray tan.

Before you get out your pitchforks or start burning things in effigy, let me explain.

This week I watched a television report on the latest cover of Elle magazine which shows a supermodel breastfeeding her daughter. She is beautiful; her hair is blowing ever so slightly in the wind provided by a precisely placed fan, she is in a designer gown and her makeup is impeccable. The reporter talked about how Elle was making strides to #normalizebreastfeeding by showing it on its cover. Doesn’t this just feel like feminism is alive and well?

In all fairness to Elle, they are late to the party; this is (I think) the third or fourth story that I’ve seen about breastfeeding being part of a published photoshoot in the last six months or so. They’ve photographed the breastfeeding Hollywood elite in diners, ‘behind the scenes’ and through enough Instagram selfies to create an entire account related to boob food. I even saw Giselle breastfeeding in a bathrobe while getting her hair blown out and makeup done. It’s not new.

Besides the fact that this is no longer news (hear me G.M.A? No. Longer. News.), these ‘reports’ really drive me crazy and if you are the average breastfeeding momma, they should drive you crazy, too. Here’s why:

Showing a supermodel breastfeeding after hours with her glam squad does NOT #normalizebreastfeeding. Not in the slightest. When these stories come on the television or come out on a magazine cover, my mind wanders back to the not-so-distant days when my kids relied on their momma for nutritional support; I’m pretty sure that with my second daughter, I may have gone four months without wearing pants because all I remember doing was sitting in bed and feeding her, over and over again. Did I wash my hair? I don’t know. Because all that exists of that timeframe is a cloud of hazy breast milk and poor hygiene. I certainly didn’t have a glam squad and the only thing ‘designer’ about my attire was that it was certainly one-of-a-kind (and not in a good way).

I think that if we really want to normalize breastfeeding, you’re going to have to scale it down a notch. Once you photograph a supermodel breastfeeding their baby, it’s over for the rest of us; the expectation is set that that’s how it should always look, right? And now I have to tell my husband why my baby weight won’t just come off like that and that it will be a while before he sees my collarbones again. Ugh. We jump on magazines all the time for portraying unrealistic figures and photoshopping thigh chub/arm flubber and I think that this falls into that category.

If you really want to normalize breastfeeding, start showing pictures of the lady with her hair in a top bun and applesauce on her shirt – or what’s left of her shirt anyway because if it’s hardcore, she’s probably cut out flaps or holes for convenience at home. Take pictures of her half asleep while the baby feeds and of the timer next to her toothbrush, showing how long it’s been since the last time she used it. The last time I saw someone in real life looking pleasantly attractive and comfortable with their boob hanging out of their clothing was, well, never (unless you count Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl in which case, I concede.) Why? Because we aren’t supposed to look like supermodels 30 or even 130 days after having a baby. You have the right to look exhausted and a little less than perfect while you have someone relying on you for nutritional support.

Here’s where things take a turn to the controversial; I haven’t been blogging long enough to have a mass exodus of followers so I feel like now is a great time to make my opinion known on this heated topic. Breastfeeding in public: do it. Kids need to eat, you need to run errands, I get it. The basic math says that being able to breastfeed in public should be as easy and convenient as the drive through at Mickey D’s. I’m on board.

My issue is that not everyone (me included) is on board with seeing a full frontal at the Applebees. I know that there are varying levels of comfort with exposing the sistas while breastfeeding but I think it’s a public courtesy to be discrete when others are around.

Arguments have been/can be made in favor of letting it all hang out, my favorite being that breastfeeding is a natural process, part of life. Here are my thoughts:

There are several inappropriate things that I could also apply the “it’s a natural part of life” statement to which is why I think it carries no weight. But in order to avoid talking about pooping in the aisles at Target, I’ll take a more historical tack:

Women have been breastfeeding since the beginning of time. The have continually had to be a food source for their newborn (and in my favorite cases, three-year-old) children. I get that. And if we were in an aboriginal state, I probably wouldn’t bat an eye if I saw a woman breastfeeding – mostly because she likely wouldn’t be wearing a shirt in the first place.

The issue is that we are a civilized culture, one with clothing standards that must be adhered to before we can even purchase gas. Why? Because nudity makes a good portion of the population uncomfortable (unless it is on the computer on questionable websites; from what I read, most Americans are on board with that?). If you don’t believe me, watch a scantily clad woman walk into a funeral and wait for the whispers; there is a time and a place for everything and most people aren’t comfortable seeing excess skin in settings where it is unexpected, like the grocery store.

We have worked to civilize breastfeeding so much that we now have bras that support discretion, shirts that support discretion and thousands of choices in covers that allow a woman to breastfeed without a slightest hint of impropriety (a lot of these are even free online so cost isn’t an excuse). With all of the convenient advances that would allow a woman to breastfeed in public without heightening the awareness and discomfort of those around her, I’m not sure why this is still a debate. If a guy tried to pull a similar normally-covered-by-underwear-but-now-going-to-bare-it stunt, the police would be called.

If you are getting ready to write me a nasty remark about how I don’t support breastfeeding in public, go back and re-read this (particularly the part where I say that I support breastfeeding in public, I wasn’t kidding). I think that business in general need to be more accommodating to women who need to breastfeed. I believe they will come around just like they did when they realized they needed to be more accommodating about Aunt Flow. It will take time, but it will happen. My real point is this:

Elle magazine didn’t distribute their breastfeeding cover across the nation; they only sent it to those people who actually subscribe to the magazine. To the mass market (grocery stores) that carry the magazine, they sent a toned-down version of the cover with a completely clothed model on the front. When asked why, Elle responded with a statement about how they recognize that the average grocery store customer is not necessarily their audience and that they didn’t deem mass distribution as an appropriate channel. Interesting, huh? They want to normalize breastfeeding and make a statement . . . to a small niche of their regular customers that they deem appropriate.

Their statement provides an excellent parallel to what a lot of people feel about breastfeeding in general: do it, we support it, your kids need to eat and you are a good mom for making that sacrifice. That said, not everyone is an appropriate audience to show the process to. Be discrete when you are in public. Wear a cover or a blanket (or a napkin if you aren’t overly endowed).

I know many moms who say, “Well, if you look, you’re the sicko.” And while I appreciate the ‘he who smelt it, dealt it’ mentality, I just don’t think that’s true. We watch people. We have entire television series dedicated to the weird crap that people do that makes us all uncomfortable (truTV. It’s a real thing. Look it up. )I’m not saying that breastfeeding is weird, but asking people not to look while your boob is out and about is like stopping a train with a rubber band.

I once had a woman come to my house for a meeting of sorts and she had to breastfeed. She is a more ‘comfortable’ type and just pulled her boob out and latched her babe on, no more than twelve inches from someone she never met before. I didn’t know her well nor did I love her apparent assumption that because we were all women (child-bearing women, none-the-less), we could look past the boob and just continue on with our discussion. Wrong. I’m sure I looked like the ultimate creeper because I felt like I my eyes were constantly being drawn to the feeding baby, like a moth to a flame. I tried to avoid it. I tried to distract myself by doing other things but it all came back to the boob. When something so unexpected is happening, asking other people to change their comfort levels for the sake of convenience seems a bit arbitrary. I still think back about that day and hope that I didn’t inadvertently yell “boob” right in the middle of our discussion. Again, foggy breastmilk haze, I tell you. The whole thing is hypnotic. . .

I thank you for your attention and for sticking with me through this long and politically-charged blog. May we all find businesses to be more accommodating and people to be the same. My husband and father thank you for your discretion. (And I thank you for not making me explain to them why your boobs don’t look anything like the one they saw on the magazine cover.)

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