A couple weeks ago I was in the kitchen making dinner while Liv was sitting at the table.  Why I’m not sure, since there was zero indication food was nearing ready.  Of course nothing like an unset table, clean dishes in the dishwasher begging to go back to their homes as if they had been on vacation, or a Mom rushing about the fridge, stove, sink triangle could have possibly indicated otherwise to a 15 year old. 

20 minutes later after competing with her iPod for communication, dinner was on the table.  I prayed, she grunted, we ate, rinse, repeat.

But for some reason, she did not pull her typical Anne Frank on me and instead pulled up a stool and sat at the bar while I cleaned up.  Let’s not go crazy people, she was in the room…I was not about to push my authoritative luck by asking her to dry.

She turned on the TV (puke).  A new show called Missing was on some channel; no, I never have any idea which one unless it’s Modern Family or HGTV anything (1290).  It was the premiere of Missing, with Ashley Judd as the lead character.  I’ve always thought Ash was super cool.  I call her Ash because obviously we non-famous people know intimate details of actor’s lives by reading their bios in the likes of STAR, US Weekly, OK! Magazine and my personal favorite, National Enquirer.

The plot is about a stay at home Mom who is married to some CIA guy who blows up in the second scene while he’s out of the country with their only son.  Their son had gone back into the hotel to retrieve his teddy bear when BOOM!…Dad’s car ignites.  Ash is understandably a mess; she meets their son at the airport back in the States and 10 years pass.  She’s out jogging with girlfriends daily, her son is about ready to enroll in college, and they have a quaint little home which Ashley can afford on her new gig as a floral arranger and some understood life insurance money. 

I’m watching this as my hands are pruning up in the scalding Dawn water, I haven’t showered since the squeezed in elliptical session 3 hours earlier, and my kid’s eyes are going to roll right out of her head at any moment.  Yet, what is Ash doing on my screen?  Why she’s conversing (and gasp! laughing!) with her kid as they are running together at a fast clip on their perfectly manicured trail system, her pony-tail is maintaining its form and health beautifully, and once she showers off her almost-broke-a-sweat, she drives her completely clean vehicle to her dream job where she begins to position Blue Orchids in glass blown vases for happy customers who never complain.

I hate her.

Actually no, I don’t.  I am making fun of the show, yes, but now it’s interesting to me because I’m laughing at the premise.  We learn that Ash met her husband in the CIA (or whatever acronym of scary they were employed) and she too is trained and dangerous just like her dead husband.  We find this out because (shocker) her son goes missing.  It’s all very involved and I’m thinking…well, as soon as they find him isn’t the show cancelled?  Kaput?  Finito?

Hold your horses.  The husband is alive!

Ok, at this point I really don’t care.  My pots and pans are finally clean, Liv has stayed in close proximity to me for more than 15 minutes without brute force, and I’m tired from real life.

The next morning I read a review of the show and was immediately intrigued to learn that Ashley Judd had been ridiculed for having a “puffy face.”  I reread that line about 4 times.  She was eloquently described through the use of nouns misused as adjectives such as “cow” and “pig.”  Really?  Um, ugly she ain’t.  Ah, but the critics messed with the wrong chick.  Super cool has a little something to say about this…

Ashley is a Harvard scholar, she serves as a global ambassador for YouthAIDS, and has testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  Oh, and I think her Mom is Naomi Judd and her sister is Wynonna.  I could have that backwards in that country music is not my favorite genre (no, Tom Petty is most certainly NOT country, he’s iconic…listen to The Waiting or American Girl sometime).

Anyway, the girl is well read.  She’s multi-lingual and exceptionally well-spoken in any language.  She came back swinging in The Daily Beast with an essay she dubbed “The Conversation” and used the opportunity to influence women and men alike in the on-going damaging and self-destructive link between our outer presence and inner self-worth.  She said the following:

“The Conversation about women happens everywhere, publicly and privately.  We are described and detailed, our faces and bodies analyzed and picked apart, our worth ascertained and ascribed based on the reduction of personhood to simple physical objectification.”

Tell ’em, Ash.

This scholar from the University of Kentucky with a post-graduate degree from Harvard understands that we minimize ourselves by allowing other people’s appraisals of our outer shell define our inner core.  She discusses how her psyche has evolved as she matured, saying, “I do not want to give my power, my self-esteem, or my autonomy to any person, place, or thing outside myself.” 

Oh how I love her.

Here’s an enlightened human being who has learned to rid herself of what she calls “otheration” —  tying our inner self-worth to others’ criticisms and bullying.  Ash correctly attests in her essay that this is often a woman-on-woman crime.  No question.  Women frequently disassemble and criticize other women’s appearances as sport, much like men do in their sizing up of the titles on business cards.  In fact if we’re honest, we all do quite a bang up job of clinging to the false hope that a layer of war paint or a fancy ride will mask our secret feelings of unworthiness.

The truth is that we actually undermine our own integrity and dignity when we define ourselves and others by this stupid outer presence thing

Without question, we’ve got it all wrong.  The real skinny is that our presence is how we make people feel.

Somehow Ashley made the conversation I didn’t have in the kitchen with Liv all better.  The show still kind of sucks, but her character does not.  She reminded me that having a brain far surpasses any superficial outer presence.  Development of a peaceful, purposeful inner core is what matters.  We are all works in progress.  And I for one, like it that way.  Stagnant anything is horrid. 

All this and Ashley Judd is a huge basketball fan!  Yeah, that woman isn’t missing a thing.

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