Monday, September 19, 2016

In Defense of Danielle (Sort Of) and Some Other Thoughts on 90 Day Fiance

To say the internet has been unkind of 90 Day Fiance's Danielle (of Danielle and Mohamed fame) would be an understatement. So I'm going to share my perspective on the situation, following last night's 90 Day Fiance: Happily Ever After? episode.

You know when something happens and you just don't understand why? It happens to all of us. There are large scale things (global disasters) and small scale things, like a friend being upset with you, but you have no clue as to what happened and why. These things occur, and not always with a clear explanation. Okay, so, we've all been perplexed before, but we either accept that things are confusing or we understand that we don't have all of the answers.

So how does this tie in with Danielle? I legitimately don't think she understands why things went south with Mohamed. While it's clear as day to us television viewers, I really don't believe that she sees it. As an outside observer, we see the following:

  • Mohamed's obvious lack of interest in Danielle from the start
  • The warning signs Mohamed displayed with each passing episode
  • A man who clearly wanted a life that wasn't what he'd get in small town America
  • Danielle not being truthful with Mohamed about finances and other things
  • A recipe for disaster

What concerned me the most about the Happily Ever After? episode is Danielle still wanting to find and work things out with Mohamed because she loves him. That, tied with a lack of self awareness, is problematic. First and foremost, the love issue - even if she does love Mohamed, he doesn't love her. Even if he truly did love her at first and want to try a true relationship, that is clearly no longer the case. He walked out and wants to move to another state, for goodness sake. He's not willing to try. No amount of love on Danielle's part can fix Mohamed's indifference, and (mildly) in his defense, Danielle did lie to him about finances and her stability. Money can break many relationships, let alone those with the stress of a K-1 visa.

So, my defense of Danielle is this - I truly don't think she understands what happened, and I truly don't think she knows better than to want Mohamed back, thinking she can recreate her happily ever after. I think there's really the "If only he'd talk to me, then we could make it work!" mentality in her mind, whereas the sad reality is that nothing is going to save this relationship.

Oh yeah, and there's also a strong lack of accountability, like blaming Mohamed for their cable being turned off. Sure, the bills were put in his name, but as a person not living in the household, I see no reason why Mohamed would pay the bills. So is he out to ruin the family? No. He's out to save himself.

This relationship draws strong parallels to relationship between this season's Nicole and Azan. I don't mean their physical characteristics, I mean the codependency and insecurity displayed by Nicole. Nicole, like Danielle, clearly suffers from low self esteem, and seems to have a hard time seeing beyond herself. The difference is that Nicole is young, and I think she may look back at this and have a different perspective, whereas I think Nicole's is locked where it is.

In the most recent episode, Nicole displayed some warning signs that show that she needs a therapist more than a foreign romance:

  • She announced, giddily, on camera, that she and Azan had sex. He looked horrified, as he's from a conservative nation and that's not something that he was comfortable announcing on camera.
  • When Azan mentioned healthy eating and exercise, Nicole looked like she'd burst into tears as she said, "You'd want me to change?" We all have things that our partners may like us to change - giving vegetables and exercise a chance isn't so bad. She did, after all, blatantly state that she doesn't like vegetables, and vegetables are important for the sake of your health.
  • Nicole seemed to do no research on Morocco before going, and blamed Azan for pushing her away in public when public displays of affection are not widely accepted in Moroccan culture (at least per the show's explanation).
  • She left her daughter for five weeks - FIVE WEEKS - to chase a foreign romance. Is that really okay?
 As for the others, Chantel clearly wants to be with Pedro but his motives are questionable, and the lies they're telling aren't helping. Anfisa isn't very convincing that she's not just into Jorge for the money, and I think Matt and Alla are legit, however strange their background circumstances may be. But we will see!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Quote from Entertainment Weekly from Kenya Barris - I Respectfully Disagree

There is a quote from Entertainment Weekly spoken by Kenya Barris, the creator of the show black-ish, which I truly enjoy and think is fantastic. I have a lot of respect for Barris' work and creativity, but there's a quote from him in the Sept. 16/23, 2016 edition of EW that I think requires more thought. Now, I realize that God and religion are deeply personal for people, and the opinion I share will not be shared by everyone. And that's okay! I am sharing my personal outlook on it, and I recognize that others may not share my view.

There's an upcoming episode of black-ish in which teenage Zoey tells her dad, Dre, that she may not believe in a higher power. Barris pulled this from his own experience when his daughter shared her potential lack of belief. The quotes from the magazine are as follows:

The genesis of the episode came from a conversation Barris had with his own daughter during a routine car ride when she shared her doubts about her faith.

"What I realized [about my daughter] was the idea came from a sense of entitlement that [my wife and I] gave her. For me growing up, you had to have something above you to give you hope. She didn't need that. Her hope was us."

I think this statement sets a dangerous precedent about kids questioning their beliefs. Sure, parents want to pass their beliefs down to their kids. But is it really okay to shut down your kid's feelings because you don't agree with them? And believe that because you gave your child a good life, they have no right to question their belief system?

I understand what Barris is saying - he needed faith to get him through tough times, whereas his daughter has her parents to lean on for her needs. But why is it okay to deny her feelings as a sense of entitlement?  Many people believe in a higher power, many do not. It's totally okay for Barris' daughter to seek her own answers to faith. Perhaps Barris could have considered some different options:

- My daughter has all she needs, so she doesn't need faith. (His takeaway.)
- My daughter may genuinely not share my opinion. Let me talk to her about why I believe in a higher power, and see where we agree and disagree. She may consider some things I've never thought about.
- My daughter may not share my beliefs, and she's a teenager. She's going through a lot. Maybe she can speak to a counselor to discuss her feelings. She's entitled to her opinions, whether or not I agree. She's entitled to her own belief system.

The danger of Barris' wording is that it's not okay for his daughter to not believe in a divine spirit - but it really is! In the way that it's okay for Barris to believe, his daughter has the exact same choice. And sweeping her feelings under the rug as entitled and wrong isn't going to help her with her critical thinking skills or to have confidence in herself and her opinions. Being a non-believer is NOT the sign of an entitled person; it's the sign of someone who has a viewpoint that works for them. You don't have to be entitled in order to not believe, likewise, you don't have to live any particular type of life to be a believer.

My point is this - and I firmly stand by it - if you live your life in a moral and ethical way, you can believe anything that you want. In reality, we may believe what WE believe, but that's our own personal opinion, and we should be open to discussion with those who have different belief systems. Do we truly know what's right? I don't think so, otherwise there wouldn't be so many differing opinions in the world. We can only go with what we think is right, live our lives in a positive way, and love and respect others for who they are, regardless of whether or not we agree with their views.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A Super Disturbing Statement on This Week's Toddlers & Tiaras

Pageant culture is tough, and not all kids are cut out for pageants. On top of that, some moms probably plan to put their daughters in pageants before they're even born, regardless of the child's ability. That being said, one mom's statement took things too far, and way beyond the point of responsible choices.

The below quote is brought to you by Deb, mom of Jayliana, who should be thanking her lucky stars that she was born with pageant talent. The quote was in regards to moms not being happy with where their kids place in a pageant.

Get more practice. Get a better looking kid. Have another baby or something with a different man. I don't know, do what you gotta do to get a cute kid.

What the...WHAT? I'm sure if you asked her, she'd say she was kidding or being sarcastic when she stated this, but does anyone else see how this statement is problematic? What kind of message is this sending? Sorry, kid, you're just not good enough because you're ugly, and looks are all that matters?

Not all Olympians have Olympic bound kids, and I would hope the Olympian parents wouldn't reject the kids because they prefer academics over sports. Your dreams are not your children's dreams. And that's totally okay.

I get it - some people reproduce in order to pass on their genetic lineage, so a less than picture perfect child can be devastating for some. But finding a new father for a replacement child, well, that's know what? I'm done. You can let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

Just so you know, I don't think that Deb meant this statement literally - I think it was meant to be a commentary on how serious some pageant moms are, as she was also commenting on how some mothers take losses personally. I believe Deb likely has a biting wit and strong sense of humor and may have been commenting on how some parents take pageants way too seriously. But the statement itself, taken in a context of its's harsh!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Toddlers and Tiaras, Season 7 Episode 2 Recap

Toddlers and Tiaras episode 2 picked up where episode 1 ended, with Selyse missing her turn on stage. Fortunately, Tonya Bailey is awesome and let Selyse go on beause it's not her fault that she had bad preparation. Unfortunately, Selyse walked right offstage in the middle of her beauty routine. Kim, Selyse's mom, blamed the lack of preparation on coach Jaimie.

Lilly was next to compete. Her stage presence was incredible! It's amazing how poised she is for such a young child. Kallyn followed, but questioned what she was doing onstage (she asked her mom "what?" and paused) but she picked back up. Jacquelynne followed. Her personality was very strong.

Outfit of choice, which featured jungle wear, was next. And wow, people went all out for this! However, Kim didn't have a song picked out for her daughter. She wanted to wing it. That's risky! Both Megan (Kallyn's mom) and Jaimie realize that Kim's blaming Jaimie for everything, but she's really unprepared. I'm not sure if there ended up being music, but judge Barbie Eason was unimpressed with Selyse's makeup, anyway.

Kallyn struggled with getting her hair and makeup done, but mom Megan did a great job keeping her in line.

Lilly was hyper before outfit of choice. She did great, despite that the wrong version of her song played. Kallyn followed and froze up on stage. Judge Chloe Brown said that could mess up her score. Jacquelynne did great, and it was refreshing to see a kid in a conservative, kid-appropriate outfit.

The Winners

If you don't get a divisional title, you've pulled a higher title.

Taking the 3 year old outfit of choice category was Isabella.
The divisional supreme queen was Selyse.

For the four year olds, outfit of choice went to Aniston.
The divisional supreme queen was Taliana.

For the fives and sixes, outfit of choice was won by Kaylee.
Jacquelynne won best dressed, as I understood it, but I guess maybe I heard wrong because her mom said she bumped for a higher title.

0-3 Mini Supreme went to Hailey.
4 - 8 Personality Supreme went to Lilly. Her mom was not thrilled.
4 - 8 Beauty Photo Supreme was awarded to Jacquelynne. Mom Sylvia was disappointed because she'd rather her daughter win for her onstage work.
Kallyn won the Face of 2016, which is highest in her age group. Lilly's mom Amber did not take this well, insisting it was a mistake.
Abby took the 9 and up Ultimate Grand Supreme.
Mega Ultimate Grand Supreme went to Landry.

Lilly cried because she wanted to win the car, and she said it's all her fault. This concerned me because she was blaming herself as if she was a failure, which was completely untrue.

Kim continued to blame Jaimie for everything, so when she ran into Cambrie, she told her she wanted to switch teams. Cambrie said they'd schedule a consultation. Jaimie and team were not amused.

It looks like we'll see this drama get heavier on next week's episode. And, on top of that, it sounds like the pageant director of next week's pageant is Jaimie's mom!