Friday, June 20, 2008

Little House, Big Issues

When the kids and I started Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods, I honestly had no idea it would spark such interesting conversations. Laura describes her aunts' preparations for the big dance:

They helped each other with their corsets. Aunt Docia pulled as hard as she could on Aunt Ruby's corset strings, and then Aunt Docia hung on to the foot of the bed while Aunt Ruby pulled on hers. "Pull, Ruby, pull" Aunt Docia said, breathless. "Pull harder." So Aunt Ruby braced her feet and pulled harder.

My kids wanted me to explain how these corset contraptions worked. I explained them and how a tiny waist was the fashion even though very uncomfortable to the ladies at the time. "That is stupid," declared my nine year old son. My daughter wanted to know why they didn't want to wear something stretchy. Alas, there was no spandex back then. This led to a discussion of what people do today to look beautiful or cool. We all weighed in on what we feel is stupid or reasonable to do to oneself in order to look good. Who knew you could go from the big woods to tattoo parlors from just a few pages' reading?

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