The First Day of School

August 25, 2008 at 10:49 pm Leave a comment

So my first day teaching again after a few years is on Friday.  When I was teaching high school, my special treat to myself was a first day of school outfit.  Yep, just like when I was a kid.  I can clearly remember what I wore my first and second year teaching (year one:  Liz Claiborne navy blue knee-length dress, A-line, stopped at my knee, short sleeves, with white crisscross lines on it; year two: Old Navy ankle length straight shift dress, sleeveless, black with white crisscross lines on it– didn’t realize that coincidence until right now- with a white, short sleeve cotton blouse worn open over it).  No clue what I wore in the years after that.   Thinking about first day of school outfits reminds me of this little heartbreaking and hysterical story from my first day of high school (Jenny Wright and Ureka, if you are reading this, you might already be laughing):  my parents couldn’t afford to take me back to school shopping and so my sweet sister (thanks, So) volunteered to take me to the mall to buy me an outfit (from her earnings as a waitress at Applebee’s) for my first day of school.  She bought me these fabulous Esprit dark green, cream and brown plaid long pants (they really were fabulous.  We shared them between the two of us for the next eight years.) and a cream short sleeve shirt.  Anyway, my friend Jenny’s step mom volunteered to drive us to school on our first day and so off we went to high school.  In front of the high school, Jenny hopped out of the front seat and then collapsed the front seat so that I could climb out the back seat.  Except my foot caught on the seat belt and I went face first into the sidewalk in front of our high school– notebooks that had been in my hands flying in every direction.  Jenny, the good friend that she was, quickly helped me up and walked into the school with me, not the least bit embarrassed by me (Thanks, Jenny!).  Looking back, that moment is quintessentially my life– comedy and true friendship, good-humor and scrappiness, faith and hope all piled together. 

I start teaching again this Friday, and I have no idea what I will wear, but I do know that I will do something tragically comic or comically tragic, and it will be the very thing that makes everything go just the way it should for that day and the rest of the semester.  I am looking forward to being back in the classroom and discussing this incredibly important issue– body image in all of its many facets with wonderful young people who are already amazing and are on the cusp of doing so many more miraculous things.  I look forward to sharing what I learn in that classroom with you here just as much as I look forwad to sharing with them what I learn from you here.  Now, I gots to go dig around in my closet.  

** The picture is from my teaching years– chaperoning prom!

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In a Bookstore Near You

What does it mean to be beautiful in America? For years, pop culture has insisted that beautiful women are tall, thin, and blonde. So what do you do if your mirror reflects olive skin, raven hair, and a short build? Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image, and Growing Up Latina offers a provocative account of the struggles and triumphs of Latina forced to reconcile these conflicting realities. Rosie Molinary combines her own experience with the voices of hundreds of Latinas who grew up in the US navigating issues of gender, image, and sexuality. This empathetic ethnography exemplifies the ways in which our experiences are both profoundly individualistic and comfortingly universal.
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