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By now you've heard of Patricia Krentcil, 44, of New Jersey who has been accused of taking her 5-year-old daughter into a tanning booth with her. "Tanning Mom" has been ridiculed everywhere for the past week. Newspapers have mocked her as the "Toast of the Town," Snooki took her on via Twitter, and Kristen Wiig parodied her during SNL's Weekend Update skit.
But this is really no laughing matter.
There's no question taking a kid into a tanning booth is unacceptable, but Krentcil was arrested for it and the law will take care of it -- and hopefully social services now has the heads-up it needs to keep an eye on her kids.
The truly horrifying thing about this case has been America's reaction. Krentcil is the Mean Girls' flavor of the month. Or is it week?
We've long forgotten about Angelina Jolie's right leg and Samantha Brick's "good looks" and now we've moved on to Patricia Krentcil's tan. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Anytime a woman in the public eye does something that makes her feel good or beautiful or happy, we take it upon our collective selves to rip her to shreds.
Do I like Patricia Krentcil's tan? No. But what difference does that make? She does. Just because it looks weird to some of us does that mean we can all get together and ridicule her publicly? Isn't that the very definition of bullying? Or doesn't it count because she's a "freak"? Should we be telling our kids that it's okay to bully the "freaks" in school? That it's okay to make fun of the kids who don't "fit in"? That's what we're doing -- so why wouldn't they? We talk about the bullying epidemic in our country's schools and spend all kinds of time, money, and energy implementing anti-bullying programs. I have an idea -- why don't we all grow up and set a good example for our kids? The sad truth is that bullies and mean girls are alive -- and thriving -- long after high school is over.
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In Krentcil's case, it's even worse. This isn't about somebody striking an awkward pose on the red carpet or complaining she has no friends because she's too beautiful. It's highly likely that Krentcil has a problem -- she's addicted to tanning, a tanorexic, if you will. What if she were anorexic or an alcoholic? Would we all be making fun of her? Would newspapers be running articles with biting headlines? Would SNL be doing parodies of her? Would faux celebrities be tweeting snide remarks? Here's a woman who is doing something that's incredibly unhealthy. Something that could ultimately take her from her young children too soon. An obsession that she could transfer to her children. Her tan is a red flag that should make us concerned, not crack us up.
How do you think Patricia Krentcil feels when she reads and sees everything that's being said about her? The media and public opinion trap her into a corner like a wounded animal and then when she "lashes out," what does everyone do? They make fun of her even more -- "Oh, she's so crazy!" Score for the Mean Girls!
If you don't give a hoot about her feelings, what about her kids? How do you think they're dealing with the entire country being "mean to mommy"?
And where are all you feminists? Do you only rally 'round women who "deserve" your support? Is a woman from New Jersey who tans excessively not worthy enough? I'd like to think that any time a woman is criticized in such a public, humiliating, and relentless way, her fellow women would stand up for her. How can we complain about all these awful standards of beauty that we are subjected to -- when we crucify others whenever we get the chance? Imagine what we could accomplish if we put all this energy and camaraderie toward something positive instead of using it to make mincemeat of a woman because we don't like her tan.
Say whatever you want about Krentcil bringing her daughter into the tanning booth, but let's leave her appearance out of the conversation. And the next time you have something to say about bullies in your kid's school or Mean Moms on the playground, take a look in the mirror.
Do you think Patricia Krentcil deserves to be bullied over her tan?