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The thing that strikes me most after having viewed Lena Dunham’s much touted new HBO Series Girls is: we’ve done it again, we’ve overhauled feminism and sexual revolution and general freedoms to produce the opposite of whatever we intended: an age that is disconnected and immobilized.

Let me say upfront, I applaud Lena Dunham’s accomplishment in writing, producing and starring in her own show. No easy feat. I like it, and as I’m preparing to watch the fourth episode in queue on my DVR, I’m enjoying it even more as it develops. Please be sure, it’s not her I’m critiquing here, it’s society.

As the mother of an almost eight-year old girl, I am attuned to the present-day experience of youth and the direction my daughter will be heading. What the world looks like from their post-college view is of great interest to me.

The portrayal of the overall naivete of these 20-somethings is more disturbing than their hyperbolic narcissism and inability to pay the rent. (Not that my generation didn’t have their moments of complete self-involvement and poverty.) The thought: How do they avoid getting murdered everyday? is followed by, well, the Lord looks out for babies and fools.

In the first episode, Ms. Dunham’s character, after being financially cut-off from her parents, stops by unannounced to engage in a disturbing booty call with a guy who refuses to return her texts. Not distressing because it’s kinky, or hot, or cavalier, but because she talks nervously about her financial woes through the whole escapade while he describes pervy underage rape images into her ear — which one can only glean that he learned, not from a genesis of fantasy within his sensual soul, but from where all memories of his conquests are more certainly culled from: the island of You Porn, where wanton waxed, bleached and implanted females live. There’s nothing titillating about it. It’s just plain sad.

And then there’s the friend who represents the virgin “trend,” as my nurse practitioner at a recent OB/Gyn appointment described it. She’s even more disheartening. This girl’s so distracted by reality TV shows and her self-comparison to any and all of the four Sex In the City characters, that she’s forgotten to start her own life.

Young women who chose to abstain from sex until their mid-twenties was the subject of one of Oprah’s final season’s shows, and it was treated as an almost mental illness by the professional panel. Even more unsettling about this burgeoning “type,” is the notion that, due to hormones in the food supply and whatever other environmental variables, this generation is menstruating almost two years earlier on average than previous ones. So this “choice” of virginal behavior defers their adult sexuality to well-beyond puberty, which, at the current rate, ends by eighteen.

When I was growing up… Harrumph! I didn’t know one person who remained a virgin past their first year of college. By that time we were not only talking and reading about sex — Our Bodies Ourselves, the Hite Report, the Happy Hooker, anyone? — we were comparing notes, experimenting with our own anatomy, making it our business to know how to achieve orgasm. Maybe it was feminism. Maybe it was irresponsible, destructive behavior. Maybe we were inappropriately over-sexed teens and entirely unsupervised. Maybe we were normal.

Girls makes it seem as if early to mid-twenties is the first time any of these people realize that they are actual women, it’s as if they’re still in high school. Though they are seemingly obsessed with their vaginas, very few of them know where it is, much less how to use it. What’s worse is that the only adventurous, worldly friend in the crew, is so ethereal and oblivious, she not only gets pregnant, she’s reckless enough to miss her own abortion “party.” A tragic message of promiscuity — if anyone considers going through an experimental stage, all brain function and discretion will be removed to the point of self-annihilation.

Parental fear that their budding adults are going to garner a disease, produce an unwanted child, become porn actors, or –oh my heart! – altogether grow up, is nothing new. But it does seem as if we’ve become so intense about saving our offspring from the ills of the world, that we’ve terrorized them by the thought of any true carnal experience, instead of allowing them to organically feel their way through it.

If Girls is evidence of anything, it’s that we “grown ups” need to chill the F*@! out. What’s the worst that can happen, our kids will make ridiculous mistakes, learn from them and then end up being responsible adults like us? There’s no way to avoid the very real separation that occurs in families during the teen years, but I intend to educate my daughter as much as possible before she stops listening to me. And frankly, I hope she knows more about herself than these girls do before entering college to a life of drunken frat parties and boys who’s seemingly only sexual experience comes from web-based porn.

It’s a testimony to Lena Dunham’s insider description of today’s young adult that I’m compelled to comment. And though I worry about the fate of my child’s generation, I also understand that we survived disco, the birth of AIDS and the drug-fueled-money-binge 80’s, the fervor of rehab and the explosion of internet porn. I’m confident we’ll muddle our way through this current stupor.

Pam Alster, former stand-up comedienne, Lifetime TV writer & suburban mom brings a decade of living on the dark side to light in her forthcoming debut novel Robin’s Blue. www.pamalster.com

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Damn Oprah and her helpful magazine staring at me from my chaise, beckoning me with “De-Clutter Your Life” splashed across a hot pink ribbon below her masthead. Sure. Add the guilt of my junk drawer to the list of my crimes, like that extra 10 pounds weighing down my less-than-Sports Illustrated-model butt.

I don’t know which periodical helps to make me more neurotic. Vogue or Simple Living. If it’s not swarming thoughts of my outmoded wall color and my unframed daughter’s art, it’s the compulsion to click the “buy it now” button for the Groupon selling discounted fat-wrap spa treatments.

When I carve out the time to shop for the supply of special food I’ll need for my pre-birthday fat flush, get that Brazillian blow-out and return all those unanswered phone calls and emails, I’ll finally read that “O” glossy article and learn how, with all the leftover minutes, to reach the perfection of that dust-free, spatially aesthetic closet.

Pam Alster, former stand-up comedienne, Lifetime TV writer & suburban mom brings a decade of living on the dark side to light in her forthcoming debut novel Robin’s Blue. www.pamalster.com

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Variety of gluten-free products in grocery basket

 

I’m proud of my sister. Today she informed me of her first week of being gluten and dairy free. It’s part of the process she is going through to find out what foods she may be allergic or sensitive to. It’s called an elimination diet. You add all the stuff you’ve abstained from after an allotted amount time and find out how what you’ve ingested effects your body. It’s not easy. Linda said she’d waited two weeks after her doctor appointment to commit to the new menu, which includes no meat and a lot of hummus, but she’s elated now. Feeling more energized. Light. Clear. The results are yet to be realized, but the point is, she’s taken her health into her own hands.

 

I went through the same process ten years ago. I’d been getting repeatedly sick, and after a lifetime of being allergy-free, had been chronically suffering from red-watery eyes and hay fever. Come to find out, I was allergic to twenty different things, more food, less environmental. After changing my eating habits, I became healthier, in general, and have even reversed some of my issues. I recently had a gluten-sensitivity blood test and it came back negative. Progress. And yes, bagels again. Yay.

 

I usually refrain from preaching. People are very protective of their habits. Who am I to be espousing fresh produce? But when someone else broaches the subject I don’t mind chiming in. What you eat directly effects everything you do, how emotional you are, how you behave, how you sleep. You gotta share the knowledge.

 

I was recently sent a TED talk about food allergies. See this YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rixyrCNVVGA.

You’ll agree, it’s enlightening and disturbing. Creepy, because you become acutely aware that you have to be your own professional dietitian, your own tireless information detective and your own grocery cop. Good food is expensive. And who has the time to become a nutrition scholar?

 

My sister said, “It’s a bummer, I can’t really eat cranberries anymore, they’re all covered with sugar.” But it’s not true. There’s 100% cranberry juice and the plain dried fruit. Most foods can be found whole, sugarless and delicious, just not-so-obvious at your average grocery chain. Whole Foods and organic stores are expensive, but Trader Joe’s has mastered delivering quality natural food to the masses. Too bad “TJ’s” is not available everywhere. It’s the one place my friend Nora Lynch, nutritionista, who moved back to Denver, says she misses about California.

 

When you start eating differently, reading labels, buying fresh, you’ll see new products on the shelves that you’ve never noticed before. It’s like when you’ve been going to a restaurant for years, then have kids, and the family-friendly diner you replace it with happens to be right next door to your old favorite spot. You say to the owners, “How long have you been here?” And they say, “Twenty years.” It’s been there, just off your radar. What I’m saying is, it gets easier and you eventually stop seeing Oreos and Cheetos and begin to focus on organic milk and whole grains.

 

Michael Pollan, author of the books In Defense of Food, The Ominvore’s Dilemma, and Food Rules, said on an episode of Oprah, something to the effect of, “If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, you probably shouldn’t be eating it,” and also, “If your grandmother doesn’t recognize it, make another choice.” I’ve paraphrased, but I took his words to heart. Though it takes more time in the beginning, you get the hang of reading labels, preparing fresh flavorful meals and eventually become predisposed to a better nutrition.

 

Congratulations to my sister Linda. Good health and everything that comes with it will be her reward.

 

Pam Alster, former stand-up comedienne, Lifetime TV writer & suburban mom brings a decade of living on the dark side to light in her forthcoming debut novel Robin’s Blue. www.pamalster.com

 

 

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