Friday, August 19, 2011

Northern Girls

"... think about stories that you tell and the stories that others tell about you. It may help to think in terms of general categories ... Age ... Location ... How was your room decorated?"
—Dan Allender, To Be Told Workbook pg 10

When I began kindergarten
we lived in a pretty house
with a playhouse
under the tall pine trees
in the back yard.

My sister and I had our own
bedrooms, upstairs.
Our closets held secret doors
that connected us. I hear
giggles of little girls crawling
through a secret passageway.

Northern Tissue Girls "American
Beauties" hung in our bedrooms.
I see my younger sister in the
baby and the blond.
I see myself in the brunets,
especially the one with the kitten
because she has brown eyes.
Today, I discover these prints
were part of a hugely successful
advertising campaign. 30 million
households. 1959 to 1966.

Today, in my treasured childhood images, I see racism.

"American Beauty" is white.
The pretty little house with the playhouse under the pines.

An illusion.

A gauzy cocoon of pasteled falsehood.

Brokenness quietly perpetuating a monochromatic and exclusionary world.


The images included here are photos taken of the "American Beauties" prints that hang in the hallway outside my office, remnants of an advertising campaign by Northern Tissue

Additional history from

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