Monday, May 2, 2011

Born that Way

Every night as soon as the kids are in bed, the dishes are done and things are at least somewhat readied for the morning frenzy, I lay down on the couch and watch tv. This week, I caught up on Glee. I started watching Glee because the show is loosely based on a choir program that I was tangentially associated with. Before you get all excited, when I say tangentially, I really mean tangentially. The connection is so loose and so tenuous that it almost isn’t really there. But that loose connection made me interested enough to watch the show once, and after just one episode, I was hooked.

The last episode I saw was "Born This Way." In this episode, each character was confronted with something he or she didn’t like about him or herself and challenged to accept it. I thought this was an awesome story line applicable both to the high school students the show is supposed to be about and the adults to whom I believe the show to be actually marketed. My favorite storyline was that of Rachel and Quinn. As the result of a random accident, Rachel is presented with an opportunity to have a nose job and make herself look a little less Jewish and a little more like Quinn. Quinn, at the same time, is secretly hiding her own nose job and chubby past. As each girl goes through her own struggle of figuring out and accepting who they are, they sing a mash-up of “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story and “Unpretty” by TLC.

The mash-up of the two songs was brilliant. The juxtaposition of extreme feelings coupled with the undercurrent of self doubt and confusion lead to one of the most honest moments I’ve seen in a television program in a long time. In one mash-up, Glee managed to capture the essence of high school: at times you feel like you need to change yourself to fit in; at other times you feel like Maria and “pity any girl who isn’t me tonight.” But neither situation represents true happiness. True happiness comes from simply accepting who you are.

I wish that I could save the Rachel/Quinn part of the episode for Sweet Pea when she is older. I’m certain my DVR will be Glee-free by then (there probably won’t even be dvrs) but I’m pretty certain the lesson will be just as relevant then as it is now. Somehow, despite schools’ best efforts to identify and prevent bullying and spread messages of acceptance, I don’t think that Sweet Pea will be able to avoid the struggle that junior high brings. I just pray that I am able to guide her through that time, and instill in her enough self-respect and confidence that at the end of the struggle she realizes that that she doesn’t need to change, she already is beautiful. She was born that way.


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