Duggars

Those shoes!

Bwahahahahaha!

Yesterday, while hanging out in the Life is Not All Pickles and Hairspray group, I read an interesting thread about Jeremy Vuolo, husband of the former Jinger Duggar and father of Felicity, who is almost one year old. The family just moved to California after having spent a couple of years in Laredo, Texas.

While I’m not a huge fan of religion, especially of the fundamentalist type, I do kind of like Jeremy and Jinger… at least for now. I used to like Jill and Derick Dillard, until Derick turned into an obvious dick. So far, Jeremy seems more normal and less dumb when it comes to his image. Except for those shoes…

This is a screenshot of part of a photo that was posted of Jeremy. He was crossing the street, carrying little Felicity. I have no quarrel with anything in the photo…. except for those shoes!

Seriously, they were the first thing I noticed when I saw the picture. They just leapt out at me like little brown beacons. I was reminded of an infamous scene in National Lampoon’s Vacation.

“Those are great, Dad!”

Well… in fairness to Jeremy, those shoes aren’t quite as egregiously tacky as Clark’s white loafers. They’d probably be okay with different pants and different socks. I guess I was just surprised to see them jump off the page like that. I figured the emphasis was intended to be on a sweet picture of a young dad with his baby. Instead, we got… shoes.

If Jeremy isn’t careful about his shoe choices, he may become akin to another whitebread Christian who became a California transplant. I give you our old friend, Pat Boone, and his trademark white bucks.

Well, in this clip, he’s wearing white jodhpurs. But back in the day, he wore white bucks.

I mentioned it on the thread and so many people chimed in. They’d had the same reaction I did. It was the first thing they noticed. Maybe the manufacturer of those shoes should hire Jeremy to sell them, since they definitely got noticed. On the other hand, I don’t think they were noticed for the right reasons. Some people who are familiar with Los Angeles said that it looked like Jeremy was trying too hard to fit in. He should put on some chucks or flip flops. Given the Duggar women’s love for flip flops, I’m surprised that wouldn’t be a given. As for chucks, I have no idea what those are. I’m not from L.A., and if I were, I doubt I’d have my finger on the fashion pulse, especially since there is no way in hell I could wear what is considered “high fashion” out there on the West Coast. Let’s see what Google has to say about chucks.

Ahh… they are a type of Converse sneaker. How cool. I do think they’d look better with Jeremy’s pants.

All snarking aside, I’m glad to see that Jinger has moved away from the Duggar compound and is living life more on her own terms. I remember when she was a teenager on 19 Kids and Counting and she said she wanted to live in a big city. Michelle Duggar was quick to pipe up that Jinger didn’t “really” want to live in a big city. She just wanted to be closer to Walmart. Apparently, that was an untruth. I kind of wonder if maybe Jeremy had to promise Boob he wouldn’t move Jinger away from Arkansas before they had permission to “court”. Boob does apparently present a huge questionnaire to potential suitors. Looks like most of the guys his daughters have married have been appropriately malleable… especially Ben Seewald, who gets a double dose in that he’s married to Jessa, who is quite assertive for a Duggar female. Jeremy may have been the one who fooled Boob and stole away one of his precious arrows.

While Jeremy is now becoming a pastor, I do hope that he will be one who is more tolerant and that their daughter will not be raised in a hotbed of misogyny. It’s nice to see that he lets Jinger make her own clothing and hairstyle choices. Before you know it, she’ll be taking college classes and becoming educated. Horrors!

Well, I did have a good laugh about those shoes. I hope he keeps them clean and doesn’t step in anything unsavory out there in California.

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Duggars, North Korea

Dear Leader…

Last night, I was hanging out in the Life is Not All Pickles and Hairspray Group and someone shared a screenshot of a post Jinger Duggar Vuolo wrote to her parents. Here’s my screenshot of the screenshot.

Hmm… she’s thanking her parents for caring for her physical needs? Isn’t that what is normally expected of parents? Why thank them for doing what they’re supposed to do?

I’m not sure what the occasion for this posting was. Maybe Jinger really was just overcome with love, devotion, appreciation, and remorse for making any demands on her overloaded parents… Maybe she posted it because we’ve come upon a significant religious holiday. Maybe parenthood has given her perspective? I don’t know. However, my first thought when I read it was that it reminded me a little of the rote devotion North Koreans have for their “dear leader”.

Some years ago, I watched a fascinating documentary about North Korea. It was made by Lisa Ling, a brave, ambitious, and stealthy reporter who had somehow managed to bring a tiny camera into the country and record things most foreign visitors to North Korea will never see. Ling posed as a medical coordinator and, at great risk to her personal safety, enlightened the world.

A couple of years later, Ling’s younger sister, Laura Ling, along with Euna Lee, were in China working on a documentary about North Korean defectors. The two women were captured on March 17, 2009, when they were at the border of Chinese and North Korea. The two women followed their guide, who had walked across the frozen river toward the North Korean border. As they were heading back to Chinese soil, North Korean soldiers chased after the two women. They were dragged back to North Korea and taken to prison, where they were eventually sentenced to twelve years hard labor. Both women were released after an intervention by Bill Clinton, and both wrote books about the ordeal. I read both of their books, though it was years ago.

Laura Ling talks about being a prisoner in North Korea.

I’m not sure why Jinger Vuolo’s post to Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar reminds me so much of North Korea. I mean, although I would say the Duggars live a cult-like existence, and although they used to denounce television and Internet access, they have taken to social media like ducks to water. North Koreans do not have any access to the outside world. I have a feeling that had the Duggars not wound up famous, they would be similarly isolated. Perhaps they wouldn’t have had 19 children, either. I do kind of wonder if the adult children hang a picture of Boob and Michelle in their homes, like North Koreans do of their “dear leader”. But maybe Jinger’s post is entirely sincere. I’m sure she is grateful to them… even as she seems to be rejecting their lifestyle more than some of the other Duggar children have.

Then I remember what life was like for the oldest Duggar kids, who were forced to share beds, clothes, and and stand in line for tater tot casseroles. I think about how Jinger and three of her sisters were molested by their brother, who was never really punished for his actions. Although Josh Duggar was himself still a child when he was abusing his sisters, he never got any legitimate treatment for his issues. Years later, he was forced to confess to cheating on his wife, Anna, when his account on Ashley Madison, a notorious Web site for married people who want to cheat, was exposed to the world.

When Jinger said on an episode of 19 Kids and Counting that she wanted to move to a big city, Michelle Duggar was quick to interject and clarify, assuring viewers that Jinger would simply prefer to live closer to a Walmart. There’s no way any Duggar child could want to live life on his or her own terms. Duggarland is “paradise”, just like North Korea is.

Although the molested sisters supposedly never got any help after they were “touched” by Josh, they somehow miraculously healed. I did notice, however, that after that news broke, all of the affected sisters were quickly married off. And yet, though they were married, they were all still working for Boob, living in his houses, and bearing his grandchildren, whose arrivals were carefully documented on reality television. Only Jinger and Josh have been able to break away from Duggarland for any length of time, although it looks like Jill and Derick have just bought a house in another town in Arkansas. Overall, the message seems to be, stay close to home, under Dad’s thumb. Stay faithful to the “dear leader”, or there will be hell to pay. Or, at least that’s my impression. Maybe I’m wrong.

Image is very important to the Duggars, just like it is in North Korea. Visit North Korea as a foreigner, and the view that is offered is the sanitized version, complete with “minders” who control everything seen and heard. Step out of line in North Korea and you could wind up being imprisoned. I’m sure that punishment is also swift within the Duggar family. It’s as if the parents need constant stroking and acknowledgement from their children, to prove to everyone how wonderful they are… or to continue the delusion.

I remember how wholesome the Duggar family used to seem, before Josh’s sex scandals came to light. A number of my friends loved the Duggar family and would defend them to me whenever I snarked on them. I’m a student of human behavior, and I notice things. People often insist on their version of the truth, but deny that up to 80% of communication is non-verbal. I remember even back in the days before Josh was outed as a “sex pest”, there were subtle non-verbal cues that all was not okay. And the Duggars, bless them, are not gifted actors… although some of them are better than others.

In watching Lisa Ling’s Inside North Korea documentary, I see North Koreans crying and praising their “dear leader”. The surreal spectacle made Ling wonder if they truly felt they were “blessed” by their leader, or if they knew that if they didn’t praise him, they would suffer the consequences. Perhaps it’s a little of both. I know that in many abusive situations, people don’t always know what’s happening. They become divorced from reality, because they are isolated from anyone who might question it. Although some North Koreans know there’s a whole world out there, others don’t. For all they know, anything they get from their leader is a miracle of providence. Most of them are probably ignorant to the idea of providing for themselves, making their own decisions, and admiring people who truly inspire them.

It’s no secret that the Duggars, despite their fame, are pretty insulated people. They don’t hang out with people who aren’t like them. They don’t read a lot of books that aren’t about their brand of Christianity. Likewise… the North Koreans aren’t exposed to anything that would challenge what they see and experience. Anyone who visits North Korea is given a very planned experience– cute, well-chosen North Korean children singing and dancing for them instead of impromptu conversations with their parents.

I do have a sense that Jinger is being exposed to more since she married Jeremy Vuolo. Jeremy is probably the worldliest of the guys who have married Duggar women. He’s been a social drinker, was once arrested, and attended secular colleges before he became a professional soccer player. He lets Jinger wear pants, which is actual news! Now, he’s moving their little family– which at this writing just consists of them and their daughter, Felicity, to Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the other adult Duggar kids are staying close to home in Arkansas, pumping out babies, and working for dad… the “dear leader”.

I’m sure Jinger truly loves her parents. I’m sure she’s grateful for everything they’ve done for her. However, whenever I see these public declarations of love on social media, I have to wonder what motivates people to write them. To me, it’s akin to the folks who film themselves declaring their love to tiny children at weddings. The declarations are much less about the tiny kids, who probably aren’t any the wiser, than they are the people in attendance. It’s all a big show.

Narcissists love a big show. They like public displays of love and gratitude. They like recognition from the masses. Public postings of love, devotion, and gratitude from the Duggar children could be completely done spontaneously, but something tells me they’re “encouraged” to do this. It’s all about maintaining the illusion and the gravy train. Because if the gravy train derails, what will happen to them? Especially the youngest children, who are still being taught at the school of the dining room table. One thing people in large families learn is that it’s important to collaborate and cooperate for their own survival. Even though the adults are technically “free”, they stick around… probably because they think they must, but also for the sake of the others, who can’t escape yet. Somewhere behind the smiles and the gushing social media posts, the truth lies.

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