One of my workmates has a daughter who is at her early twenties. I have known her since she was in elementary school. She had somewhat plump body and she was a bit tomboy until graduating from senior high school. In 2002 she moved out of town to continue her study. Last year, she was seen again at the office, to visit her mother and she looked very different. She was not plump anymore and looked very feminine with her long hair. So slim was she that my workmates and I suspected that she was an anorexic or bulimic. We felt pity for her. And we were wondering if her mother did not warn her to take care of her health. But then I remembered, this workmate of mine, more than a decade ago, used to complain about her body a lot. She always felt she was plump although I thought she was not.
I assume that the way the mother valued her body has influenced the way the daughter saw her own body. “It is really a big disaster to gain weight, although only a little,” once she said, when attending a workmate’s wedding party. Therefore, she didn’t eat anything but some slices of watermelon.
Some time ago, another workmate saw the mother purging after having meal. It means the mother as well as the daughter suffer from the same thing.
I must say that I was somewhat anorexic when I was at junior high. Some friends (especially a boy I used to have a crush on) said that I would look prettier when slimmer. Therefore in senior high, I used to fast outside Ramadhan month without eating ‘sahur’ (having meal early in the morning before dawn) and successfully decreased my weight. Luckily I didn’t do it so terribly that I suffered from stomach disorder.
Realizing that it was not good for health, I keep telling Angie to love herself, and feel at ease with her body, slim or plump, especially after Angie entered adolescence. I opine that as the mother, I have a big role in helping Angie shape positive attitude toward herself. After that, I also ask her to do the same thing toward her friends. “God never creates ugly things. Human beings give values that are sometimes not necessary. Appreciate everyone the same way.” Still, sometimes she finds a schoolmate who says rude and ugly things toward Angie, and she complains to me.
“Honey, his mother or his father doesn’t teach him to appreciate God’s creature fairly. It even means that inside his heart he feels something wrong or he lacks of something so that he keeps looking for weaknesses in other people, especially physically. He deserves to get pity instead, not you.” I was trying to comfort her.
Meanwhile I still remember at kindergarten, Angie did not like one of her classmates. She kept protesting when her class teacher paired up her with that classmate until this mate felt afraid to Angie. She didn’t tell me about it but her class teacher did. When I asked her why she didn’t like working together that classmate, little Angie said, “She is so slow, not energetic, not lively.” Gosh!!! I never taught her such things, to treat her classmates differently based on their intelligence.
However, after Angie entered adolescence, I did tell her to value people on intelligence more than physical things, especially in looking for a boyfriend. :)
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008
A coin has two sides.
Just like a movie has many interpretations, not only two.
I plan to watch JUNO with my students this Monday. I have watched this movie with another class before, around a month ago, and I think this movie is quite ‘safe’ to be watched by teenagers: there is no vulgar scene, although the story is about a sixteen-year old teenager who gets pregnant outside the wedlock. I opine that the script writer as well as the producer of this movie wanted to give an alternative to teenagers how to face unwanted pregnancy; and to parents a kind of suggestion how about to stand together with the pregnant kid, to be supportive with the kid’s choice, instead of just blaming her without showing any comforting response, without realizing that sometimes female teenagers get pregnant not merely due to their own mistakes—such as accusation to have low moral because having sex out of a wedlock—but can also be engendered by the parents who don’t give enough attention, or too much controlling.
Saved!, Juno, Gilmore Girls
In this article, I want to compare three movies that have similar cases: SAVED!, JUNO, and one serial GILMORE GIRLS. They all have the similar topic: a sixteen-year-old girl who got pregnant outside the wedlock. Nevertheless, the cause of the pregnancy is different. The way to handle the case is different too.
SAVED! was produced in 2003/2004. This movie has very strong Christian teachings as the background. Mary, the leading character, got pregnant because she wanted to “save” his boyfriend who admitted that he was a gay in a telling-secret-under-the-water game. Feeling shocked, and with her head crashed something hard when she was about to go out of the pool, Mary saw a vision of Jesus coming to her, telling her that she was chosen to ‘save’ Dean (from being sinfully homosexual). Being able to make Dean enjoy their lovemaking, Mary thought she was successful to “cure” his ‘psychological/mental disease’. Therefore, she was very disappointed when knowing that Dean’s parents still sent him to Mercy House, a kind of rehabilitation to ‘solve’ any kinds of problems; such as addiction to drugs, homosexuality, until girls getting pregnant outside the wedlock. She felt cheated by Jesus’ vision coming to her.
JUNO was produced in 2007. The cause of Juno to get pregnant was merely she was curious to know what sex was like. ‘Playing’ something she didn’t know with one good friend, Paulie Bleeker rewarded her unwanted pregnancy.
GILMORE GIRLS was produced in 2004/2005. Lorelai Gilmore got pregnant when she was 16 years old merely because she wanted to rebel her controlling parents, especially her mother, who never gave her freedom to be herself. She always felt strangled in her parents’ luxurious house. Meanwhile, her teenage boyfriend, Chris, did that to get rid of his parents’ obligation to continue his study at Yale because he didn’t feel sure to be able to do that.
The solution to face the unwanted pregnancy is different. Mary, at SAVED! kept it secret, trying to hide her pregnancy She even did not tell Dean about it, not to her mother either. With help of her two schoolmates, Cassandra and Roland, she tried her best to hide her swollen belly under some special clothes. In another word, it can be concluded that Mary decided to keep her baby, although at the very beginning she was thinking of abortion.
At Gilmore Girls—as people can easily guess, because this serial focuses on the very intimate, best-friend-like relation between the mother and daughter—Lorelai decided to keep her baby too, but by leaving her parents’ home and doing her best to survive, as well as raising her daughter. She refused Chris’ offer to marry him because she thought both of them were not ready yet to live together in a marriage, moreover she knew very well that Chris was not psychologically and financially mature yet. This would just make the marriage not work well that possibly would just ruin the relationship of three of them—Lorelai, Chris, and Rory, their daughter, especially Rory’s mental development.
At JUNO, a bit similar to SAVED!, Juno was thinking of terminating her pregnancy too. However, then, she got a very brilliant idea, to find a couple of husband and wife who wanted to have a baby very much. She got one. The difference from SAVED was that Juno didn’t try to hide her pregnancy from her parents as well as her schoolmates. Bleeker, the father of the baby-to-be knew too the result of their ‘playing game’.
None of the three movies gave solution to marry the sixteen-year-old girl with the boy with whom they had sex, or with any other guy who was willing to “save” the good name of the family, a typical solution that usually happens in Indonesia.
Solution in Saved!, Juno, Gilmore Girls
SAVED! The failure of Mary to ‘cure’ Dean to me means that the producer as well as the script writer wants to tell the viewers that some people indeed were born to be homosexual, not because of the influence of wrong socialization. Before Dean told Mary about his secret—being a gay—he was involved in a Christian community, dedicated his life following Jesus’ steps. Any celestial religion will consider homosexuals sinful therefore they must be ‘saved’. In fact, Dean eventually had to give in his innate call.
Mary—who was involved in the same Christian community as Dean—was excited to be ‘chosen’ to help cure her boyfriend with the Jesus vision inside the pool. However, after she ‘sacrificed’ by having sex with Dean, Dean was still a gay. Furthermore, she seemed to be ‘punished’ by God to have sex outside the wedlock with the unwanted pregnancy. This ‘accident’ made her lose her strong belief that people would always find solution in religious teachings blindly, without using their common sense. Eventually, her mother accepted the fact that Mary got a baby; she did not need to send Mary to Mercy House because Mary was not a problematic teenager only because she was pregnant outside the wedlock. Mary needed the support of her mother to live her life much more strongly than to be sent to that kind of rehabilitation center which in fact did not really help the ‘victims’.
JUNO. Juno had decided to give away her baby to a couple when she told her parents about her pregnancy. Feeling shocked, but trying to hide it, the parents showed a strong support to Juno’s decision. The father—worried if Juno would be cheated because she was just a kid—accompanied Juno when meeting the couple who would adopt her baby. The mother protected Juno’s mental condition when people accused her a problematic teenager with her unwanted pregnancy. Juno expected that she would continue her life ‘normally’ (read just like any other teenagers who didn’t get similar accidents) after she delivered her baby.
GILMORE GIRLS. Lorelai decided to run away from home, to deliver her baby, and to raise her using her own way—having intimate relationship with the baby, open communication, without ‘you’ve-got-to-listen-to-me-coz-I’m-your-mother’ trait toward Rory, a way to raise up a baby Lorelai believed would work much better than just controlling. By doing so, she believed that Rory would not end up getting unwanted pregnancy at a very young age.
Especially the two movies above—Saved! and Juno—some people around me opined that the movies even encouraged teenagers to ‘play’ with sex because when they accidentally got pregnant, their parents would even support them and didn’t punish them anything, not even to scold them. (This reminded me of one article in a local newspaper stating that in the movie of BERBAGI SUAMI—LOVE FOR SHARE in English—Nia Dinata wanted to encourage men to be polygamous.)
I have never invited my students to watch SAVED! so that I don’t get any input yet from my teenage students. However, in JUNO, my teenage students could see the complicated things Juno had to undergo, the insecurity a teenage girl had to face in their daily life when getting unwanted pregnancy. This obviously will NOT encourage them to get similar problem, moreover if their parents punish them for embarrassing their ‘good name’ by getting pregnant outside the wedlock.
A movie indeed can be interpreted from different points of views. When showing a movie about teenagers’ life, we as parents/teachers are supposed to accompany the teenagers and then have a live and open discussion to come up to a beneficial interpretation for both sides.
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