Living a Legacy

amy sam

Sometimes daughters work as the legacy of their mothers. Kate Hudson followed her mother, Goldie Hawn, in her footsteps to becoming an actress. Another acting mother-daughter set is Blythe Danner and her daughter Gwyneth Paltrow. You will notice that daughters are symbols of their mother, and there is a special connection enjoyed through the pursuit of success in the shared field.

One writing mother-daughter duo is Hilma Wolitzer and her daughter Meg Wolitzer. They write mostly fiction novels, such as Summer Reading by Hilma Wolitzer and The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. At a reading for a bookselling tour at a Barnes and Noble, Hilma said, “Meg and I have always shared this love of language and have a similar sense of humor and similar sense of the world, but then we each go into our own private vision when we write, so I don’t think we write that much alike. Our sensibility shares certain aspects – certainly ideas about the tragic and the comic and the fine line between them.” They don’t write exactly alike, but they share a love for language and a similar sense of the world. There is a mother-daughter connection present between the writing pair.

They report about their bookselling excursion, and Hilma said that she remembers Meg coming into her separate hotel room and saying that her room was so messy, which was something that Hilma said to Meg all of her life. Then Hilma said to her, “You noticed that I didn’t criticize you once on this trip. That was a conscious effort.” It’s great that she was making an effort to not be critical. When Meg was 11, Hilma gave Meg’s first story a critique that landed Meg in tears, while all Meg wanted was praise; however, appreciation is what Meg usually got from her mother. Praise is fundamental, while too much criticism is detrimental. Also, Meg stated that she and her mother aren’t competitive as writers, but they do compete with Scrabble.

Mothers and daughters are even seen together as models in front of the still camera. Beauty can be transferred from the mother to daughter through genes, and beauty can be seen in the relationship of mother and daughter. While the mother and daughter models are certainly the artists at work, the photographer’s vision in this project is that of Howard Schatz. He captures not only the genetic similarities but how the mother-daughter pairs interact with each other.

Three young ballerinas: Hannah Marshall, the daughter of Cheryl Yeager; Carolyn Lippert, the daughter of Carla Stallings Lippert; and Alexandra Pullen, the daughter of Ellen Pullen Shaker, are performing in the footsteps of their mothers, who are former star ballerinas. All three live away from home in apartments in New York City, so they can get to classes daily; and all have decided to postpone or disregard college to focus on dance. Hannah, who often finishes her mother Cheryl’s sentences and vice versa, said that she’s seen tapes of her mother perform, and her mother is her ultimate role model in every way. It must be comforting to know that your mother, who has had success in your same field, is in your corner supporting you. However, there is still tremendous pressure to get a contract with what they’re pursuing, which is Ballet Theater. Also, there is pressure to live up to your mother’s accomplishments.

Alexandra Pullen said that one of her teachers told her that she had to realize that she is different from her mother and might not be as good as her, but she can try to imitate her. Alexandra continues to say that she doesn’t want to be better, she just wants to make her mom proud of her and to make herself proud.

While the mothers, who are being photographed with their model daughters by Howard Schatz, aren’t actually professional models themselves; the models are representations of their mothers, and the photographer wants to portray that in his work. The beauty of the models comes from their mothers because, after all, daughters are images of their mothers. On the other hand, Meg Wolitzer followed in the footsteps of her mother Hilma to become a writer, and the three ballerinas literally followed the footsteps of their mothers to train to become ballerinas.

There must be a pressure when your parent has already had success in the career you desire, and then you can only strive to achieve just as much or more than her. According to Alexandra Pullen, one of the aspiring dancers, she doesn’t want to be better than her mother, she just wants to make her proud and make herself proud. This takes off some of the pressure of reaching success by not comparing yourself to the achievements of your mother. As you can see, she’s not a perfectionist. Even Meg and Hilda refrain from being competitive with their writing, as this may create negative feelings within their relationship if they compare success or lack of success. Hilda makes an effort to not criticize Meg, since she has criticized her in the past and it, of course, proved to be hurtful. Also, I’m sure Goldie Hawn doesn’t critique her daughter Kate Hudson for not winning an Oscar just because Goldie Hawn won one for Best Supporting Actress in Cactus Flower but instead congratulates Kate for being nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in Almost Famous.

It is important to relieve pressure by not being too critical but supportive because as a parent you want the best for your child, who is a representation of yourself. When a child reaches success in the same field as a parent, it is very special because the parent can be a guide along the way.

Keep an eye out for the other mother-daughter duo of Mildred and Gayle Kirschenbaum in the upcoming movie, Look at Us Now, Mother!.

References

Bloom, Julie. “Following Mom’s Footsteps, And Her Toe Work.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 07 Dec. 2012. Web. 26 Feb. 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/07/arts/dance/following-moms-footsteps-and-her-toe-work.html?pagewanted=1>.

Bosman, Julie. “Model Mothers.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 22 Feb. 2013. Web. 26 Feb. 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/02/24/magazine/look-models-mothers.html>.

Edwards, Ivana. “On Tour, Mother-Daughter Writing Act.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 26 June 1994. Web. 26 Feb. 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/1994/06/26/nyregion/on-tour-mother-daughter-writing-act.html?pagewanted=all>.

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