Ladies, can’t we see some pictures of you actually doing something?

Many young women seem to prefer posting photos of themselves posing scantily clad.

I’ve enjoyed keeping up to date with some of my former students via social media, still sometimes what I see is disturbing, especially the posts from my female students. Almost universally these young ladies—who are mostly in their twenties— post what we old timers call cheesecake: shots where there is little in the way of clothing involved and the emphasis is on butts, cleavage, and pursing ones lips in what, I’m guessing, is supposed to be a provocative pose.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The human body is a beautiful thing. And I do recall growing up in the world of no bras, miniskirts, low-rider bell bottoms, and halter tops, so now you’re probably wondering what has me so anxious. The problem is these young women are posting nothing else; they’re social media streams are just endless views of their barely-covered bodies. They never seem to say what they’re doing in life, what they’ve accomplished, or where they hope to go.

I’m worried because nothing seems to have changed in regard to women being valued only for their looks, a message that girls understand loud and clear. Still, I would sometimes point out in class that only being pretty is never enough, because as beauty fades, one needs skills and training to be successful. Often my comments were laughed off, the girls shaking their heads at the absurdity of losing their looks.

Still, there are plenty of women who understand that beauty is fleeting. A 2019 study showed 92% of all plastic surgery procedures in the U.S. were performed on women, and in 2020 the number of those aged 30-39 who’d undergone facial and body augmentation numbered almost two million. It used to be plastic surgery was the realm of those 50 and over, but not anymore. The question is where does it end? And why are so many women so unhappy with the way they look?

I think I understand the point, but wouldn’t it be better to show yourself actually doing something positive?

We can probably blame social media, though in my time it was the impossible proportions of Barbie and those glossy fashion magazines that worshipped whip-thin models like Twiggy that had me and many of my peers feeling insecure about our bodies. Today, one just needs to switch on any social media site to see how beautiful everyone else is. And no worries if you don’t stack up. If you can’t afford plastic surgery, those cute little filters can crop out any body parts you don’t like. We can tweak our faces and give ourselves cheek bones, shave fifty pounds off our bellies, and even change the color of our eyes. We can all look like super models.

But to what end? I sometimes try to imagine how much time women spend chasing pretty. Then I wonder what wonderful things might have been accomplished had they put as much effort into studying, or working, or volunteering.

I’m not naive. I understand all this posing is about attracting a mate. But if someone only wants you for your looks, can the relationship last? Note that over 44% of marriages fail every year, with infidelity being the leading cause. The chances of divorce go up when one person is deemed no longer attractive enough. So, if a lasting relationship is what one yearns for something other than looks needs to be involved.

I learned a lesson years ago when I was attracted to a man who paid no attention to me whenever our paths crossed. One of my friends observed these interactions and dragged me to her house, where she dressed me in her clothes. While my attire was generally sporty, Debbie’s wardrobe featured sheer, low-cut dresses with slits up to her hip and four-inch spikes in every color.  

Later, I toddled back to the restaurant where we worked, with lots of makeup and bright red lips, body parts I rarely exposed on full display, wincing at the pain in my feet. When the guy saw me, he grinned and started chatting with me as if we’d never met before.

It would be nice if your photos actually show who you really are?

Of course, I was thrilled. But it didn’t take long for me to realize that the person he saw in that pushup bra and stilettos wasn’t me. In that moment, I lost all interest in him. He was attracted to someone who didn’t exist.

I mention this because while pretty is fine there has to be more. You need to have interests, because, eventually, couples need to talk to one another, conversations where pretty is irrelevant.

So, go ahead and emphasize your looks, if you want, but remember if the goal is to meet someone who loves you for who you are, you might think about cultivating interests, hobbies, volunteer work, and a sense of humor.

Then take some pictures that show you actually doing something.

Find Anne Montgomery’s novels wherever you buy books.



Don’t forget your receipt!

Whenever I’m offered printed reciepts, I always say no thanks, but I might have to reconsider.

I don’t like paper receipts.

First, there’s the obvious. Do I really want to know how much I just spent? Every month when I take my cat Westin to the vet for his shot, ear cleaning, and medication, the sweet receptionist smiles up at me and says, “Would you like an itemized receipt?”

“No!” I shout, before saying I’m sorry, but I have no desire to know what my feline friend is costing me. His medical fees are more than the dozen dogs and 40 cats I’ve taken care of over the years combined, so there’s no point in pouring salt in that wound.

But there are other reasons I eschew paper receipts. According to the Forbes article “The Business Case for Eliminating Paper Receipts,” “In the United States alone, paper receipt production uses an estimated 12.4 million trees, 13.2 billion gallons of water, and emits 4 billion pounds of CO2 each year.”


And there’s more: “Additionally, over 90% of paper receipts are coated with BPA or BPS – known disruptors of the endocrine system. The health implications of this are astounding, with retail employees and workers frequently exposed to paper receipts often carrying higher than 30% more BPA and BPS in their systems than individuals without that level of exposure.”

So, yes, I was feeling rather high and mighty by waving off anyone’s attempt to hand me a receipt.

It was a cucumber in the checkout lane that caused the problem.

Until now.

The other day my sweetie pie asked me to pick up a package of tortillas. As is usually the case when grocery shopping, a few other things made their way into my reusable canvas bag. (There’s a reason my friends and family sometimes refer to me as Eco Annie.) After waiting in line, I parked myself in front of the self-checkout machine. I followed the directions, swiping the barcodes and placing the items properly in the bagging area. Note that I have learned not to argue with the lady’s voice that gets rather strident if one takes too long to follow commands. “Place the item in the bag!”  

Everything was going rather smoothly until I put cucumber on the scanner. With no barcode, I selected the look-up-item button, found a cucumber, and hit the key. But the charge didn’t appear on my list. I tried several times, but my fifty-nine cent cucumber didn’t register.

I stared at the people waiting—it was a busy day—and tried again. And this time, it worked. I stuck my credit card in the slot, was instructed to remove it, but no receipt appeared. I looked around for an attendant, but saw no one. Then I glanced over my shoulder at the shoppers anxiously tapping their feet and staring holes through me.

So, I took my bag from the bagging area, and walked toward the door, behind a blonde, lady police officer. I smiled and thought I would thank her for her service, but as we headed out into the sunlight, she yelled at a woman in the parking lot.

I could have ended up in the slammer, all because of a receipt.

“Excuse me! Do you have a receipt?” She addressed a small woman with an armload of flowers.

The woman squinted. “In my pants pocket.”

I froze, as the officer reached into the woman’s jeans rummaging for proof that she paid for the flowers. My small bag of groceries suddenly felt inordinately heavy. I’d never committed a crime. (Okay, when rock collecting I sometimes ignore those No Trespassing signs, but that’s mostly the limit of my illegal activity.)

I suddenly envisioned all those dopy TV criminals who try desperately to look innocent but fail miserably. I told myself I’d committed no crime. I’d paid for my items, I just didn’t have the proof. I walked ever so casually around the officer, heart beating wildly. Would she believe me if I told her the machine didn’t supply a receipt? If not, would she haul me in for shoplifting?

As it turned out, my acting ability carried me through. Or maybe the cop was just too busy with the flower woman to notice my guilty expression.

I will now rethink my opposition to receipts, if only to avoid doing time in the slammer.

Find Anne Montgomery’s novels wherever you buy books.



Kids say history is boring, so something needs to change

Those who teach history have it tough, because so many students say they find the subject boring.

I was a teacher for 20 years. During that time, I taught mostly communications and journalism, as I’d been a reporter in a previous life. Still, when I applied for my teaching certificate, I was required to take a test to prove I knew something of value and, as journalism wasn’t an option, I took the history test.

Like many young people, I didn’t always care for history. It wasn’t until I got to college that I discovered the thrill of learning about the past. Though, looking back, I did sometimes wonder about those who lived before me. Once, as a 12-year-old, after watching a TV show about ancient cave drawings, I took my father’s tools and gouged a hole in our garage wall. I believed there might be ancient artifacts buried in my 1950’s-era split level and wanted to find them. I was stunned when my parents punished me. Apparently, they were not the least bit thrilled by my budding intellectual curiosity.

In college, spoiled brat that I am, I got to live and study in Europe, where ancient sites were often just around the next corner. Celtic tribes inhabited the area of Luxembourg where I lived, until Julius Caesar arrived around 54 BC with his smart looking troops and conquered the local populace. Today, you can see, for example, a two-story, 40-room residence with marble walls, mosaics, a swimming pool, and under-floor heating, the construction of which began around 70 AD, built, no doubt, by Rome’s version of Elon Musk.

I can’t emphasize how fabulous it was to study the great World War I battle of Verdun and then pop over for a visit to see those trenches for myself. Or to spend a week in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Or to take the train to Paris to follow the Nazi occupation and Germany’s ultimate loss in World War II. Perhaps, had I not had those opportunities, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with history.

While I can’t say that history is currently the least favored school subject—math obviously holds that dishonor—from my experience it’s one students generally want to avoid. The argument has been the same for decades. “History is boring!”

Henry the XIII, the pyramid-building Aztecs of Mesoamerica, and Genghis Khan and his troops all have lessons to teach us.

Why do they feel that way? Sadly, for generations, the teaching of history often rested on the memorization of facts, dates, and times, which by themselves are as exciting as dust. What students need are good stories. For example, Henry VIII’s desire for eight wives is a made-for-TV soap opera with intrigue, violence, and romance, and an aftermath that changed the world. Then there were the Mesoamerican Aztecs, with their advanced architecture, engineering, agriculture, and science and their cities that rivaled those in Europe, at the time. And you’e got to love Genghis Khan and his lightning-fast horsemen who roared through parts of Asia and what would become modern-day Europe in blitzkrieg fashion. They conquered the locals and left behind snippets of their DNA that changed those of us who descended from them. If you like milk and cheese and ice cream, thank Genghis and his boys, because without their quirky lactose-digesting gene, we’d all be unable to enjoy a hot-fudge sundae.

I do understand that many of the historical events students are required to study are not inherently intriguing on their own, but history teachers should be able to find ways to make those moments interesting and, even more important, relevant. Also, we need to look closely at the times and events being taught. History lessons here in the U.S. have too often focused on the European versions of events, but there’s a big world out there with all kinds of historical lessons, so expanding what’s taught might help us better understand one another.

The problem currently is that not many college students are pursuing history as a major, fearing that the only job out there for them is, well, teaching history. But according to reporter Valerie Strauss, in her Washington Post article “Why so many students hate history—and what to do about it,” the study of history is good preparation for all kinds of careers.

“Historical knowledge is powerful currency for the 21st century,” she wrote. “History increases cultural literacy and sensitivity. You will learn to consider multiple points of view and changing global contexts…It also offers a unique education in the curation of content, teaching you how to collect, evaluate, and arrange a variety of sources into persuasive arguments and narratives. By interpreting the past you will better understand yourself. And those who know their history help to shape how people see themselves in the present and what they hope for the future.”

What’s more important than that?

Today, perhaps more than ever, we need to study history so we can see where we’re headed and, if we don’t like what that future holds, what we can do to change it.

Find Anne Montgomery’s novels wherever you buy books.



There’s no reality in the Metaverse

If we’re not careful, we could lose our children to digital gaming on a grand new scale.

You’ve probably seen the Meta ad. A young teen stretched out on his bed, clutching a football. “I wanna be quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys,” he says.  “I wanna carry eighty-thousand fans to victory.” Then, we see the boy again, this time in a stadium wearing a Cowboys-like jersey, throwing a pass. But the kid isn’t wearing a helmet. Instead, he’s donned his Meta Quest 2 Pro headset, a dandy little device that sells for $1,500.

It’s not only the exorbitant price of the virtual-reality apparatus that has me riled, it’s the whole idea of the ad. The kid reminds me of when I was still teaching. I did my best to sit down individually with every one of my students, an effort to tease out what they wanted from life and perhaps formulate a plan to help them get there.

When a kid came to me saying they wanted to be a professional athlete—as many did—I pointed out that there’s a lot of hard work and dedication on that path and no guarantees. Though I know the odds of being an athlete at the pro and Olympic levels are incredibly slim, I never tried to talk anyone out of it, though I always mentioned the need for a plan B, explaining that one awkward step can end an athlete’s career.

“So, you play on our team here at school. What’s your position?” I’d ask.

More times than I care to remember the kid would look at me quizzically and say, “I don’t play on the school team.”

“A club team then?”

“No, I just play in the neighborhood.”

Childhood obesity is on the rise. One reason is because children are addicted to video games, and the lure of the Metaverse promises to make things worse.

I would then gently point out that if they really wanted to become a pro athlete, they should actually play on an actual team. “That’s the way to learn,” I’d say. “You can’t become a great player without playing.”

And then they’d just stare at me, as if to say no effort should be required to reach their dream.

Now, back to the Meta ad. What is it really saying to young people? Are Mark Zuckerberg and his boys actually insinuating that wearing their high-tech goggles is better preparation for a career in sports than, um, actually playing in real games? That’s the impression the ad gives me. It seems the idea of hanging out in your room, interacting with pretend people is preferable to actually getting involved with a real coach and players. No weight training or sweating required. No learning the intricacies of your position. No need to develop the interpersonal skills involved with being a team member. No putting yourself on the line in front of actual fans. And if that imaginary pass you’re throwing to an imaginary receiver in an imaginary stadium goes awry, no worries. Just restart your imaginary game and give yourself a do over.

Is this really the message we want to send when one in five kids in the U.S. is clinically obese, which amounts to 14.7 million children and adolescents? Add to that the fact that almost 16% of 12-to-17-year-olds suffer from depression, a condition often brought about by isolation and loneliness. Perhaps their little Meta headset might make them feel like they have actual friends, but eventually they’ll learn the reality of virtual reality. There is nothing real about it. They will reside in a fake world and someday, when they need an actual friend, there might be no one to turn to.

Perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe, someday, some kid will play football or baseball or hockey in their pretend universe and then they’ll become pro players. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it. Because it is!

We should not allow children to slip into this world. Video games sucking up all their time are bad enough. The Metaverse will swallow them whole.

I know what some of you are thinking. She’s just an old teacher who doesn’t understand modern technology. These are just games. What’s the harm?

All I can say is take heed, parents. Don’t leave your kids for endless hours in their rooms where they will become increasingly addicted to their fabricated worlds.

I really hope I’m wrong.

But…I’m not.

Find Anne Montgomery’s novels wherever you buy books.