Parable

There was once a popular, admittedly imperfect blogger. She was well-educated, with a graduate degree from a select private university and a bachelor’s degree from a well-known State University. She often engaged difficult topics, and provided thoughtful, detailed descriptions about why she would engage specific subjects and topics. She was trying to make it as a freelance writer, and had several online curricula vitae publicly available at a few different social networking and career search websites. Her CV listed her educational profile, including the school names. She is actively involved in the State School’s alumni association, but in no way employed by the State School.

Someone in the PR department of her undergraduate school found her blog, and took issue with some of her posts, either the way they were written, or the material the blogger engaged. Little research would be needed to connect these blog posts and this blogger to the school in name. Several days later, the blogger received a letter stating:


 

“Dear Ms. Blogger, It has come to our attention that you are trying to make a living as an imperfect, but courageous writer. We wish our alumni could pursue any career they want in whatever manner they wish without risk of The State University being embarrassed by their efforts. Regrettably, we are somewhat alarmed by the prospect of being identified as the school at which you were educated. We prefer to be identified and associated only with alumni who have successful established careers, and no grammatical errors or potentially embarrassing issues addressed in their published works. We want you to become a writer whose works we would be proud to be associated with, and would like to offer some instruction towards that mutual goal. We advise you to remedy the following concerns.
First, you need to be in control of who and what sort of advertisements are visible on your blog. There must be no alcohol-related ads, and no allergy-related ads, and nothing related to guns, mental illness, or violence as these are particularly sensitive topics for our campus. We would advise you to make use of the PR editor we will provide to proofread every future article or post. If our staff is uncomfortable with the nature of the post, we will make suggestions about how you can remedy the issues of concern, and you can either adopt these suggestions, or will post an addendum at the bottom of the article stating: “I, Ms. Blogger, published this post without the express approval of my alma mater, The State University. All comments and opinions and subjects expressed in this post should be read with the knowledge that they are the express opinions of Ms. Blogger and not the opinions of The State University.”
You are, of course, welcome to pursue your writing career in whatever manner you wish, if you write under a pseudonym, rather than your name, which could be associated with The State University.
We ask that if you choose not to comply with the above recommendations you will remove The State University from your publicly visible curricula vitae, and may result in the withdrawal or suspension of the degree bestowed upon you by The State University.

Respectfully,
Jane Editor,
Director of Public Relations, The State University.”


 

How should Ms. Blogger respond?

Who is right? In what way?

What is the cost of doing relationship this way?

What issues arise in the context of this narrative?

What is your reaction to reading this narrative?

Please post comments below, as I hope for this to be a lively dialogue.

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There’s something about leggings…

This morning, I took an unexpectedly delightful trip down the Great Leggings Debate rabbit hole. I might have swapped sides a few months ago, but 2 weeks ago was the clincher. One of my moms asked for Christmas gift ideas for our family. I knew this request was coming, and thanks to the notes app, I was going to be ready. (I was ready, but still inexplicably neglected to answer the request for an exceptionally long period of time! (Sorry MS!)) I had created a wishlist a long time ago, and whenever a valid, approved, viable wish arose, I’d plop it on the list. Here’s mine:

 Image I actually put leggings on my Christmas list. It’s funny! This is something I want, but have not yet bought for myself = good gift! Admittedly, as I placed the word “leggings” on my wishlist, I felt tremendous ambivalence. I felt like a hypocrite. I have internally railed against the resurrection of leggings since I saw my aunt (yes, my aunt!), who is decidedly more fashionable than I am, sporting them back in…. 2009. But my railing, I have come to see, both concealed and exposed my bend toward jealousy. I just never thought I could pull it off, and preferred to dodge the self-consciousness I imagined would naturally result from walking about in the equivalent of a leotard-for-your-legs.  

Look, I have never claimed to be fashionable. I spent a year in college wearing almost entirely men’s clothing. I decided it was less painful to purchase men’s pants with their clear demarcation of one’s dimensions and proportions (W:34, L:30) than to attempt to navigate the ambiguity of women’s sizes. My body changed that year. I didn’t gain the freshman 15. I gained the sophomore 30… okay 40. It was traumatic to navigate women’s clothing, with one store’s 10 fitting like a 8 or 12 in another, and boutique sizing that allows big spenders to delude themselves into thinking they fit into a size (ideal # here). Ugh!

Add to my jealousy a pinch of slut-shaming thrown in for good measure, and you get a grown woman with strong ideas about the inappropriateness of dressing in leggings outside of the gym or home. There was some taboo rule I ingested sometime during the hyper-religious phase of my spiritual development, that layered feelings of guilt and shame upon anything that came within 100 thoughts of being alluring, evocative or sexual. I can’t blame the religious people in my life entirely, they were actually pretty cool about things. I just had this confluence of trauma, religion, and a deep discomfort with ambiguous or gray areas of the moral code. I now chalk this up to a necessary developmental milestone of spiritual development. (More on that (perhaps) another time.)

But jealousy and slut-shaming are antithetical to many of my feminist and Christian ideals (see Luke 7:36-50), so yes, I have come around. Last year, I ventured into the legging-wearing club for what I believed would be a temporary trip, and with pregnancy offering a good excuse. Post-pregnancy, and now again in what I have come to know as my normal shape, I miss feeling free to wear super-comfy stretchy pants and call it good. Well, that can be easily remedied.  I will not covet your ability to pull it off, or assume you wanted everyone see every curve (or dimple) of your lycra-covered tush. I will celebrate that you have the self-confidence and freedom to rock those leggings without shame. And I will join the fashion ranks of legging-wearing-feminists, a few years late, and complimented with a long shirt, skirt, or otherwise fanny-covering overlay.