Calm down. I have no Playboy plans. I am the girl who sleeps in very sexy flannel PJs and practically wears a cover-up in the pool. Should my rookie novel LIFE AFTER YES be an earth-shattering success and should I suddenly sprout into a come-hither supermodel and should Heff come a-calling, I would giggle profoundly, think about his naughty offer for all of three seconds, and then politely decline. And then I would write a very braggy blog post about all this.
So why am I sitting here contemplating this far-fetched hypothetical? Well. Because last night I crawled into bed early (yes, in the aforementioned flannels; pink paisley and super-hot literally and metaphorically) and tuned into a DVRed episode of Real Housewives of New York City. In this particular episode, one of the “real housewives” (ha) Kelly Bensimon takes her young daughters to dinner to tell them her plans to pose in Playboy. Her precocious girls giggle and make fun of their mom and everything is peachy.
And I know this is not just a silly reality show, but perhaps among the silliest of reality shows, but still. Here I am thinking seriously about a few things.
Is it okay for a parent to pose nude, to display sexuality? Now, as we’ve established, I would never in a million years agree to pose nude. This has little, if anything, to do with my status as a mother. This is just not for me. I am pretty modest. A pinch prude. (In public at least. Roar.) But I don’t think that there is necessarily anything wrong with Playboy and with those who choose to share their goodies therein. I do think there is something compelling about celebrating a beautiful body, particularly when that body belongs to someone in her forties as Kelly, the oh-so-real housewife we are discussing here, is. But. When there are two little creatures, two little girls, in the picture, I get more uncomfortable. What are they learning by watching their mother strip down and expose all?
Is it okay for a parent to opt to display her life and the life of her family on television? If we are going there, we must go there. Is there something plain wrong with allowing cameras to film a family in any capacity when members of said family are really too young to proffer meaningful consent? It is one thing for a grown woman to sign on the dotted line and open herself up to drama and sensationalistic editing, but it is another thing – a more problematic thing – when we are talking about impressionable young kids. That said, who are we to judge how people choose to make their living?
Is it okay for a parent to do anything that might arguably work to the detriment of her family? I cannot sign off without taking these questions into the more universal realm of concerns. Once we commit to partners or become parents, do we abdicate the ability to make a whole host of decisions that might affect our partners and progeny in detrimental ways? What about writing memoirs about family? What about blogging about our kids and our families? We all tell ourselves we weave words and pen stories to memorialize the fleeting moments of our days, to carve meaning in the stone of existence, to stay afloat in the sea of modernity, but surely our very blogging might have short-term and longer-term effects on those we love most, right?
So. This started with a little Sunday night mindless television escape, but leave it to me to knit this into a pesky existential conundrum. This is not just about baring all for the glossy pages of a notorious magazine. This is about life. How it should be lived in light of the fact that our very living, what we do and what we don’t, affects so many others.
- Would you pose for Playboy (or Playgirl) if asked? Come on, some of you have to be cooler than yours truly!
- Do you think there is anything wrong with parents of younger children exposing themselves in the pages of a magazine or on the episodes of a reality series?
- Do you think the range of appropriate behaviors shrinks once we marry and start families?
- Are we bloggers (or those of us who blog non-anonymously at least) sacrificing our own privacy and that of our families on a daily basis? Is this medium markedly different than that of reality television because we have control over publication?
- Do you agree that if we trace the possible consequences of every decision we make and action we take, we can easily become paralyzed?
- Am I the only one who finds herself in a thicket of deontological debate after watching a fluff-fest of a television show?