Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Some thoughts about Mindy

Have you ever been depressed? Stood so close to the edge, your toes dangled freely over the abyss?

All it would take is one little slip...

"I hope you rot in hell" -No one actually came out and said this. 

Yesterday I said my friend had a good point, but my point was better.

His point? People were being awful, ugly, and mean to a woman who had made a big mistake.

My point? That mistake was freaking scary.

Only, SHE isn't scary. Bitter? Harassing? Judgemental? Yes. But then, so are the dozens (hundreds?) Of women who attacked her personally, publicly and in private messages.

But she isn't scary.

Her mistake is. It is terrifying that any stranger can take a picture of your child while you aren't looking, and that isn't against the law. That anybody can post a picture of your child to social media, and there is no protection.

(Oh, good. A new thing to be scared about. You're welcome.)

But Mindy isn't a predator. Oh, I said she was, and I meant it. But not in a creepy, dangerous way.

You get what I mean?

She provided a platform for much bigger issue. It isn't even about her anymore.

Only, nobody told the masses.

And nobody told her.

(I hope somebody tells her)

"You don't deserve to breathe" -this one was implied.

I've been thinking about this a lot. Those happy pills- they could be depression meds. And we all have bad days, and make stupid choices. And for somebody with depression, a bad day with bad choices that ends with THE INTERNET HATING YOU could lead to some dark places.

We do not need another example of depression, bullying, and suicide.

But we could use a good comeback story.

Hate what she did. Hate it hard. But don't hate her.

"You disgust me. Everything about you disgusts me." -so many people, in spirit and tone.

She is a wife. She is a daughter. She is a friend. She is a step mother.

She is a person.

And she has worth. Just like you do, even in your worst days.

Mindy made it clear that she felt stuck in this job becuase better ones were taken by college grads. But you know what? She worked hard for this position, and she lost it in a day.

A day, possibly without her psych meds.

This wasn't a little part time job. It was her career.

"I hope you never get another job again. Never in your whole life." -I'm paraphrasing

I'm not excusing what she did. I obviously have very strong opinions on it, and a theory on why it struck a chord with so many people (totally interesting, you should all go read it).

And I believe in the power of protest, and social media, and groups of people coming together and saying "that is not ok" in a voice that makes a difference.

This was worth standing up for.

But isn't wasn't worth losing our humanity.

"You are a terrible human being who doesn't deserve happiness" -quite a few individuals

She made a mistake. A big one. She violated strict policy, and from the moment she posted that photo her job was over.

She is down, guys. Let's stop kicking.

"Mindy is awful and doesn't deserve to be a step mom" -dozens of people

Let's not add more thoughts of pain and worthlessness to somebody who is already suffering from depression.

"Mindy wasn't loved as a child" -lots of folks

Be kind. She is fighting a hard battle.

And we all have bad days.

We all do stupid things.

Let's not push her one step closer to the cliff.


Please note that most people were firm, but not cruel. And some got a bit caught up and carried away. And then some people dove in and splashed viciously.

It's those people I am paraphrasing in the "quotations." Instead of calling out individuals, I thought if try to capture the essence of their messages.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

An Icing Store Manager Photographed A Child Without Consent- And The World Took Notice.

For any of you out of the babywearing loop, there was an issue yesterday where Mindy,  a store manager in a Tampa Florida Icing store, waited until the mother wasn't looking, and then took pictures of her child without her consent- or knowledge.

(the child's image has been blurred because I'm not an asshole)

Then she posted them publicly on Facebook and proceeded to use hate speech to ridicule and degrade the mother for wearing her child. She also talked about being able to identify autistic children from afar, and assured everybody that she knew this little girl didn't have special needs.

As if you can just tell by looking.

And as if you need to have a special needs child to justify your parenting decisions.

She talked about needing "happy pills" to do her job, described an incident where she shamed and bullied some preteens in her store earlier that day, cussed a LOT, said she hates children, and hates people in general.

It was vulgar, and ugly.

She identified herself as an Icing employee (she is a manager), and made it clear that she took the picture during her shift.

...and after it started going viral, she deleted her posts, announced that everything was out of context, and then deleted her facebook.

But, thanks to some magical screenshot technology, it was too late.

(you can check out the Posts To Page section on Icing's facebook page to see more)

She violated her company policy in at least 4 ways, but more importantly she made it clear that no children are safe in her store.

It's a big deal.

Why do I care?

The mother of the little girl who was victimized is in a moms group I'm a part of. I've read her thoughts, and it is very easy to put myself in her shoes. It feels personal.

But bad customer service happens everywhere. Why are so many moms (and dads) from all over the world getting so worked up about this??

She behaved terribly, and made it clear that she has a habit of degrading her customers. A lot of people are focusing on that in their outrage.

But I don't think that's the real reason.

The compelling element has more to do with this largely uncharted territory of internet safety.

People are being mean.

A friend of mine saw my post on Icing's page, and has a different view. He is more upset by the strong, passionate, and sometimes harsh responses that he saw on Icing's page. Some people were attacking Mindy herself, in ugly and mean spirited ways

He has a point.

But my point is better.

While it isn't illegal for people to take pictures of your child and post them on the internet without your knowledge or consent, it is wrong.

That's what brings out the mother bear instinct in me. She waited until the Mom wasn't looking, and then took a picture of the little girl.

That gives me chills.

In this case, thousands of parents across the globe were horrified by what happened, and hundreds turned to Icing's facebook page to protest this behavior.

It may be legal, but it will never be ok for strangers to take pictures of your children without your consent.

But, why are people protesting Icing?

Public outrage, sit ins- these things will drive change, and make sure that in the future Icing (and hopefully other businesses) will have better screening, and training for their employees (especially their managers!) in regards to things like, say, not taking pictures of little children in their stores.

It's good for the company, since now they have the chance to root out this cancerous employee, and the motivation to make their stores a friendly and safe environment.

This is why lawsuits happen, (ideally). Not to make a quick buck, but as a check and a balance. A way for private individuals to hold businesses accountable for their actions, and to demand change when something appalling happens.

Social media is great, because it gives voice to people who would otherwise be really easy to ignore and silence. And in cases like this, where taking pictures of little children when their parents aren't looking is actually not illegal, it gives a protection that even the law isn't providing.

We can come together as parents and say "this isn't ok." And if we all say it together, our voices will be heard.

It is also good for the company, since it gives them a chance to see very quickly if something is seriously wrong. Then they have the chance to make changes swiftly and publicly, without needing to go through the hassle and and expense of any kind of lawsuit or settlement.

Mindy's job was over the moment she posted those pictures publicly, which she took while on the clock, and clearly captioned them as a store employee (manager). She violated her stores policies in at least 4 ways, and big companies like this have strict social media policies that employees can expect to lose their jobs over.

But this isn't about her anymore.

Literally, she was fired.


Now, it's about something so much bigger than her. She just provided the platform, and I'm standing here on the bones of her career making this speech.

It isn't illegal for strangers to take pictures of our children when we aren't looking.

But it should be.

Our children aren't protected when strangers post pictures of them on the internet, without consent.

And that's wrong.

This is an important topic, and these are things that need to change. But even if the law never gets around to protecting our children in this way? This time, we can do something.

Not against a creepy weirdo in the park with a camera phone.

Not against a predator disguised as a family friend.

But by forcing a company to follow through with their own policies, we are saying THIS ISN'T OK. We are taking a stand, and it's a start.

Before you get too worried, Icing will be fine. Possibly better than fine. They have an opportunity here, and I am interested to see what they do with it.

Toddler wearing at my local Icing today :) the manager here was as sweet and kind as always, and even took this picture of me- with my consent.

If you want a chuckle, picture the look on face of the Icing Social Media guy when he woke up that morning.

Did I mention that this all went down around 1am?

Here was their first response:

They posted this on every.single.comment. And there were hundreds.

Most companies in situations like that issue a blanket statement, and it tends to be pretty vague. This was direct, concerned, and determined. They thanked us for bringing this to their attention, and assured us that they were taking this seriously.

They needed to look into this issue before issuing further statements, but didn't want us to think they were ignoring us (which, yes. Angry people did assume.).

They even wrote a special message to the mother whose little girl was targeted, apologizing and asking for her contact information. It was well done.

And it's not like they anticipated this event.

"Dammit Mindy!! Not again!"

It was a perfect move, and one that other companies should take note of. Maybe HR teams should prepare a Mindy Statement, for when their employees make poor choices and harass little children.

As you can probably tell, I have been an outspoken advocate of the mother and child in this protest, and I consider the outrage demonstrated to be a very good thing.

As for Icing, they are going to be ok. They've dealt with Mindy, and there is a babywearing event taking place in that Tampa store as I type this.

I'm not out for Mindy's blood. I assume she was fired, but I kind of hope she wasn't. Intensive sensitivity training could be really beneficial to her, and losing her job over this isn't going to make her any less of a bitter person.

But the heart of this- the passion we feel when our children are threatened, even in a new, technology based way? That is always worth fighting for.

If this issue struck a cord with you, please write about it. Comment. Tweet it. Post it. Blog it. If it bothers you that it isn't against the law for somebody to take pictures of your children without your consent- say something.

It isn't much.

But it's a start.

Friday, April 3, 2015

I turned 30

I was born in 1985. I always liked that, it made calculating my age seem way easier, since I can just count by 5's.

And last month? I turned six 5's old.

I think the hardest part about turning 30 is reconciling where my life is with where I imagined it would be. Expectations are such a crapshoot for me.

(I actually don't understand that saying at all, but crapshoot sounds like shit hitting the fan, so I'm using it literally here.)

I thought I'd have a couple more kids by now.

I thought I'd be about 30lbs lighter.

I thought I'd be more confident. More sure of myself.

I thought I'd have travelled more.

I thought I'd be stronger spiritually.

I thought I'd be more accomplished In my writing, or my dancing, or my.....anything.

I thought I would have lived more. Had more adventures. Appreciated the small moments.

And I fell short, on all of it.

I'm not saying that my life isn't in a good place, and I wouldn't change a single thing that would lead to not having either of these two wonderful babies.

But not meeting those expectations? That was hard.

Kurt asked me if I wanted to celebrate the last few hours of my 20s with a cool countdown.

"No. This is a time for mourning."

He accused me of dramatics, and I reminded him of his week long battle with sorrow at the death of his youth 3 years ago.

Turning 30 is no joke.

The next day was a party. And I'm good now. Once I was done mourning my youth, I jumped right into enjoying my middle age.

30 has been pretty great so far. I have a few more gray hairs and wrinkles than I did two days ago, but that is respectable in a lady my age.

When you turned 30, how did you handle it?

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