From Stripper Poles To Victoria’s Secret: Are Women Too Eager To Please?


One of the peak challenges of life as a female is combating our irrational, self-destructive, I-Know-This-Is-Crazy-But-I-Can’t-Stop impulse to please others. Our parents.  Our teachers. Our boyfriends. Our bosses. Our mirrors. Our husbands.  Our mothers-in-law.  Our therapists. Everyone but ourselves.

Like a good feminist born in the 60s, I’ve fought arduously my entire life to cure myself of this affliction.  I was pretty successful until I turned 10.  Since 11, it’s been all downhill. News from the sisterhood indicates we are all fighting a losing battle.

In this summer’s hilarious comedy, Crazy Stupid Love, Ryan Gosling remarks to Steve Carell, “The war between the sexes is over. We won the second women started doing pole dancing for exercise.” I cringed in the movie theater when I heard the line.  Because it was sooo true.

I’ve nothing against strippers taking off their clothes to earn good money. I do have a problem with women stripping at home just to please some middle-aged bozo they are already married to who has little interest in pleasing them.

The lowest cut of all came with two recent factoids about moms. One study, reported in the New York Times in early August, showed that moms’ number one fashion inspiration is our daughters. We take our fashion cues from women half our age who are just after our credit cards?  Girls who think Ke$ha is a good singer?  Really?

The second was a “Good Reads” review of Susan Shapiro Barash’s latest book, You’re Grounded Forever.. But First Let’s Go Shopping.  Her research suggests that moms are afraid of our daughters not liking us.

AFRAID. Of our daughters not LIKING us.

Have we really sunk so low on the self-esteem scale that we rank ourselves below our own mercurial teenaged daughters?  We are trying to please an age group of other females who are genetically programmed to hate us? If this is all true, I quit being female.

Good thing I didn’t hand in my resignation quite yet.

My 12-year-old daughter came downstairs the other morning wearing my favorite Victoria Secret jade green bikini.  My jaw dropped onto my computer keyboard.  In utter delight.  Not at how she rocked the bikini. But because the bikini that fits my 46-year-old, three-baby, body-by-Haagen-Dazs fits a 12 year old’s hips. 

“Please, Mom?”  she asked, all sweetness and sugar.  “This is a great bathing suit.  You have great taste.”

All was right in the universe.  I vowed to stay female and a mom.  At least for one hour. I didn’t even ask for the bathing suit back.



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