Friday, February 27, 2009

True Beauty

One of my guilty pleasures is occasionally watching America's Next Top Model. Generally, I get irritated by the shallowness of the contestants, but I have found something interesting by watching that particular show. One of the things that comes out is how important personality and basic life skills mean success for these young women. Good looks certainly play a part, but it seems to come down to some important life skills, like being able to relate to people and holding it together during interviews, etc. that helps the contestants do better in the competition.

So I was intrigued when I heard about a new show on this winter called True Beauty. They gathered up 10 beautiful people from all over the country and had them go through challenges to see who would emerge as the most beautiful person. The twist to the show was that the contestants were being judged not only on their outer beauty, but on their inner beauty (and the contestants didn't realize this twist). Their actions were followed by hidden cameras, and their unkind words and actions were, ultimately, what got them eliminated from the show.

The finale summed up what they were looking for in a beautiful contestant. They listed these qualities as the ones that showed true beauty:


...and there were a couple of others that I'm not remembering, but they were along those lines.

In a way, I almost felt bad for the contestants getting kicked off because they were eliminated not because of outer beauty but because they were lousy people on the inside. Ouch.

But I found the whole concept illuminating. What does our culture say about beauty? What makes someone beautiful on the inside? Do these qualities sum it up? Are there others? What do you think?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Ridiculous Law

Everyone: please make your voice be heard against this act mandating that every product for children adhere to ridiculously strict standards. Books, toys, clothing, and all other items for children must be tested and checked in such a way that it will severely limit entrepreneurship. Check out more information here from Carol Baicker-McKee, a children's illustrator/author says on her blog post about this:

"The CPSIA, enacted with good intentions of protecting children 12 and under from lead and pthalate exposure, will instead cause ripples of harm throughout the lives of children and adults. It is a prime example of regulation run amok."

Write to your representatives today.

Monday, February 09, 2009

A Favorite Children's Book Series

Unlike some authors, I was not a total bookworm as a young child. Until I was a teenager, I didn't LOVE books the way that I do now. Now, I'm always reading at least a couple books at a time, non-fiction, biography, fiction, mystery, thriller, whatever. As a young child, I read a lot. My mom took me to the library very often. But it wasn't until I was a teenager that I found that human connection, that link to the human condition in books. That's when I fell in love with books.

But I've always liked stories and I've always loved word play. One series of books I couldn't get enough of as a child was the Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish. Amelia's problem was that she always took things literally. Here's the pitch from Harper Collins' website: "Everyone loves Amelia Bedelia, the literal-minded housekeeper! When she makes a sponge cake, she puts in real sponges. When she weeds the garden, she replants the weeds. And when she pitches a tent, she throws it into the woods!"

Once children learn the literal meanings of words, then they can start to appreciate the key to a good joke: the play on words where a single word can mean more than one thing and twists things around in a funny way. This was, as I think back on it, what I think I liked best about Amelia Bedelia, and why I love to write today. I love the sound of words, the play of words, goofing around with language. I've decided to check out the Amelia Bedelia books from the library again to experience the fun again.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Remnant Trust at IPFW

An exhibit showing currently at IPFW is well-worth seeing for everyone in the Fort Wayne area. It's called the Remnant Trust and features historical documents of great significance. On display are such documents as: The Emancipation Proclamation, The Declaration of Independence, the Magna Carta, early editions of landmark works, like Leaves of Grass. A section is devoted to religious works: Wycliffe's translation of the Bible, Thomas Acquinas' Summa Theologicae, the Hebrew Bible, the Koran.

The wonderful thing about this particular exhibit is that viewers are allowed to read, touch, and handle the documents. I loved seeing the illuminations on the Thomas Acquinas book. One of the docents pointed out the worm holes on one of the volumes in the Science, Culture, and Society section.

The exhibit is free to the public, but check the website for gallery hours. It's located on the campus of IPFW, in Helmke Library. K-12 school groups are encouraged to attend, and with prior arrangements made, can have a guided tour of the exhibit.