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Beth Lapides Headshot

Plastic Fantastic!

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There was a scene in this week's "Tell me You Love Me", my favorite feel-bad TV show of the season, where the married-with-kids-but-not-having-sex-with-her-husband blonde is frantically pulling plastic containers out of her kitchen cupboards and throwing them into a plastic garbage bag. She's furious because she's just learned that these plastic containers are one of the main culprits of the environmentally-triggered estrogens which have caused her daughter to begin menstruating at the unnervingly young age of ten.

What a great scene. TV is often just radio with pictures. (Then again radio is often email with sound.) Not one word was spoken, yet she clearly tells the plastic containers she hates them while she is telling herself that she is a bad mother.

Maybe it resonated with me because just the day before I watched the episode I'd done exactly the same thing. Well, not exactly the same thing, I also had sex with my husband. And I did throw the containers directly into the recycling bin. (Surely she must have a bag from Target or WalMart or wherever it is she bought them in the first place.)

The scene pulsated energetically because it brought the personal and political so close together, where they belong, rather than leaving them where they are usually found in the media, on opposite sides of the bed, not making love or talking or even knowing what each other might possibly be thinking.

Plus the containers are, of course, symbols of womanhood. Bowls, vessels, chalices: woman. As she throws away these contaminating/contaminated containers, she's throwing herself away. Throwing away her daughter's contaminated body. Starting over.

As usual it's not as easy as all that. After the doctor's appointment where she and her sexually distant husband learn of these estrogens the couple laps up ice cream, i.e. milk. A food which is made to bind infant to mother. A food which is used in American culture to bind us to consumerism. And which is, healthfully speaking, probably on par with the plastic containers. (Yeah yeah, calcium. Get it elsewhere. Say dark leafy greens?)

Maybe in the next episode they'll realize that the estrogens may be partially responsible for the husband's lack of sex drive. Or maybe that won't happen for another year. Or ten.

We become our new selves in fits and starts.

One cabinet at a time.

One purchase at a time.

One thought at a time.

And then all at once. A giant leap. If we're lucky!