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"Stories in the Stones"

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A Wonder Women Day Trip

On a Rooftop In Morocco

High Spirits Haunted Tour
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Bruce Springsteen
Ozzy Ozbourne
Lenny Kravitz
Roy Clark
Marilyn Manson
Amy Grant



She's Come Undone
The Hand I Fan With
Only Twice I've Wished For Heaven



Sunday, April 8, 2001

The Austin American-Statesman

Day Trip Wonder Woman

Dallas museum might inspire you to make your own history

By Karen Strawn

Special to the American-Statesman

   The statue rising from a cactus at the entrance to The Women's Museum: An Institute for the Future in Dallas is that of a "real woman."

   I know because when I stood underneath her and looked up, I saw her thighs touching and cellulite around the outside of her legs. Her legs looked like mine, I thought, or Marilyn Monroe's. (Marilyn was a size 14, you know.) My face flushed with the warmth of recognition and I smiled about the connection I felt between this statue and me. I confidently opened the door to the museum for my mother, father and 8-year-old son, and we all stepped inside.

   Because we live in Texas, we didn't have to travel far to experience what some families travel around the world to see: the only comprehensive women's museum.

   Inside, everything is high-tech and streamlined, a brilliant contrast from the art deco exterior of the warehouse building in historic Fair Park. The first thing to see is a gigantic video screen divided into smaller TV screens, like an electronic quilt. The main room is large and unencumbered.

  Without knowing, I began at the end. I felt a bit unleashed, not knowing which corridor to take from the huge hardwood-floor main room where the electronic quilt flashed patchwork pictures of women I was about to meet. My mom stayed with me on the first floor while my dad and my son took the glass elevator to the second floor.

   We wandered into a room called "Cyberspace Connections" with dim lights and "Star Trek"-like computer stations, where you can leave your story, tell your opinion, join the Women's Museum or visit the Web site. I left my story in the museum's permanent digital archives. Forever captured for future generations to read is a three-paragraph summary of my life, including the importance of my mom's influence, a description of the many hats I wear as a woman and my dreams and goals.

   For the next three hours, my family and I explored the wonders of women's history.

   Among the stories of well-known women from the past, including Amelia Earhart, Helen Keller, Susan B. Anthony and Eleanor Roosevelt, there were new women I learned about.They included Frances Gabe, builder/conceptualist of a self-cleaning house in Oregon; Bette Graham, inventor of liquid paper; Many Engle Pennington, mother of refrigeration; Elizabeth Maggie Phillips, a young teacher who invented the original Monopoly board in 1904; and Lillian Gilbreth, who invented the step-on lid trash can.

   All of this was very good and fine. But it wasn't until I stumbled upon a kiosk like exhibit that I felt my Women's Museum experience come full circle. There, in the middle of the museum, was a body image exhibit featuring three types of body shapes: Marilyn Monroe, Raquel Welch and a beautiful dark-skinned model whose thighs did not touch.

   The exhibit noted that "real women" weigh an average of 144 pounds and wear a size 12-14. Women with "super model" body-types make up only five percent of the population. This confirmed what I already knew: I am just as extraordinary and stunningly beautiful as the statue outside.

   Inspired, giddy and sentimental, I couldn't help but wonder what legacy I would leave behind.

   Then I caught my reflection in one of the "Unforgettable Women" glass case exhibits that had a sign that read, "New Feature Under Construction," and I saw myself in that exhibit - what will my story be? 





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