Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Empowering Women March {Featuring Dee Dee Bonner}

Hey lovely people! I hope y’all are enjoying this warm weather as much as I am. I love everything about spring! It is hands down my favorite.

As I posted earlier this week, March is going to be “Empowering Women” month here at Southern Samplings. As a woman, I consider myself strong yet sensitive, kind yet assertive and understanding yet grounded. I want women to never give up on their dreams of doing whatever they want to and I think that every woman should have some solid role models or women they admire.

As I was describing those characteristics above, who came to mind for you? During a brainstorming session I did for Southern Samplings, I came up with about 10 different women I admire.

Some women on this list included: my mother (of course!), grandmothers (on both sides), Emily Maynard, Katherine Webb, Amanda LeBlanc, Rachel Zoe, and Dee Dee Bonner.
{You cannot be an Alabama fan without knowing at least two of the women mentioned above.}

As a diehard Alabama fan, I’ve followed Dee Dee Bonner on social networking sites for a while. Her quick responses, humor and protective nature inspired me! I hope to be that kind of momma to my children one day. So, imagine the EXCITEMENT I felt when she agreed to do an interview and let us know a little more about herself and a little bit about what she feels about “empowering women.”

Sweet family portrait! (Corey, Dee Dee, AJ, Derek in back, Coco and Gage in front)

Dee Dee Bonner (AKA AJ McCarron’s momma) is just as sweet as she is funny. I wanted to know how she balances leading a semi public life as well as raising four boys and living life.

AJ hugging Dee Dee after an emotional LSU game

Question: Who has been the most influential woman in your life? What did you learn from them?

“I wanted to be really honest in these answers. On the good side, there is my mom and grandmother. It would be my mother for the loving and caring aspect and my grandmother in the same regard. It would be my grandmother for her feistiness and willingness to stand up for things and willingness to share her thoughts and opinions even when some people didn’t agree. I think we also learn from women who didn’t make the best choices. We can look at these women and say “I’m not going to let that happen to me.” I’ve seen these women, not directly in my life,  go through something and I would think to myself “I’m just not going to handle any situation that way; I’m not going to react that way.” I’ve tried to observe women and learn how they have handled situations with resiliency and learn from them. I have a lot of great role models in my life and also seen many negative women. I just try to take what I’ve learned and use it to make me better.”

Question: What qualities do you think today’s women have forgotten and need to “re embrace” to possess the true qualities of a woman?
“Society tells us what’s acceptable and what’s beautiful. I think we need to go back and find confidence in ourselves. If that’s dressing girly, that’s okay. I think a lot of times, as women, we don’t try to dress girly because it may be viewed as too sexy. But, it’s okay to dress girly. It’s okay to dress tomboyish. I dressed that way, really sporty, growing up. I suffer from low self-esteem and I think we just need to have more confidence and belief in ourselves. I think we {including myself} need to go back and find that. That is one thing I’ve tried to teach to my children-have faith in yourself. I think women need to find that again and find their own empowerment.”

Question: Do you think that women can have the same job and responsibilities as a man? Are you a promoter of genuine old fashioned thinking that “a man should make the money” and the woman should “just raise a family?”
“I think that, yes, we are different physically. A man can do more physically than a woman can. That’s just genetics. But, no, a man cannot do more than me mentally. I think it’s sad that we live in a society that a woman can be doing the same job as a man and making three times less. That’s very frustrating. The only capacity that a man can do more is physically. I can’t lift as much weight as my husband can on a weight machine. But he can’t give birth either.”

Question: How do you handle the negative attention that you get (if you get any) about yourself? How about when it is about your family/friends?
“I’m kind of feisty; I get that from my grandmother. So, at first, I would try to fire right back at them. But, it’s a learning process. I would go right back at them but now I try to let it roll off me. I only get a little defensive now unless you talk about my kids. If you talk about my friends or family, I’ll say something back to you. If you’re talking about me, and that’s all you have to talk about, bless your soul. I’m not going to lie; it hurts sometimes when people say hurtful things. But, if you’re just talking about me without knowing me, you’re missing out. I’ve done charity work for most of my life. I’m very big into helping kids with cancer. I just shake off the hurtful things and ignore it but talk about my kids or family and I do get a little upset.”

Dee Dee with Ryan Kitchens (sweet little boy who recently lost his battle with brain cancer)

Question: Has there been one obstacle in your life that you felt was worse because you were a woman?
“No, not really. The only thing people have probably had to take a double take on is how knowledgeable I am about sports. I know so much because my kids have played football, basketball and baseball and have also been so involved in sports. I’ve learned it. I’m the girl who is in the den with all the guys when we go watch games with people. I’d rather be at the actual Super Bowl watching it then out shopping.”

Question: Every interview I’ve ever seen with AJ, he is so polite! How important are manners and respect to you? How did you instill these qualities in your children as they were growing up?
“I think you have to re-iterate stuff to children as they are growing up. While he was growing up, when he would say “yes” or “yeah,” I would say “yes?” and he would correct himself and say “yes ma’am.” Even today if I am at a drive-thru or anywhere, even if the person is younger than me, I always say yes ma’am, no ma’am, no sir, yes sir. I think you have to live it. Children learn by example. As parents, it’s your job to teach. It isn’t your job to be their best friend or give them everything in the world they want. Even though as a parent you want to do that, it’s your job as a parent to produce a productive citizen. It’s your job to send them out into the world to be successful and to do you have to show them what life is really like. Lead by example. Manners are important. We aren’t pretentious. We treat everyone the same. Whether you are the president of a company or the janitor, treat everyone the same. We are all important beings created by God. They have grown up to be good men.”

Question: You’ve also publicly come to the defense of Katherine Webb (AJ’s girlfriend) many times. Do you think that the way she’s handled her new fame in an appropriate manner?
“It’s a learning process. I’m sure there will be answers that she’ll look back on and say “I wish I would’ve answered it a little better.” There are things, even to this day, that I’ll look back on and wish I would’ve thought of something else to say. It’s just a growing process. I think she’s handled everything wonderfully. She is such a sweet, sweet person and a loving person. I love her to death. I think she’s handled everything really well. She’s had so much thrown at her so quickly and I think she’s handled it with a grace and maturity that most people couldn’t have handled. And that is why I come to her defense. It’s easy to sit and play “arm-chair quarterback” like I say about AJ. You know, it’s easy to sit and say things when you are playing X-Box and not on the field with 350 pound guys running at you. It’s the same concept. I think she has handled everything extremely well. I’m just so proud of her and I’ll keep on defending her.”

Question: Do you think that a woman can stand up for herself without being an overbearing person? How so?
“I think so. I think it takes some practice. To some people, when you stick up for yourself, they will always think that you are being overbearing because you aren’t giving them the answer they want to hear. You always have to be true to yourself. That is what is important. Otherwise, you aren’t being fair to yourself. If you aren’t going to be fair to yourself, then you cannot be the best person that you can be. And if you aren’t going to be the best you can be, you will always succumb to other people and that’s not going to be a good end result for you. That’s what it happening to so many young women today, they aren’t being true to themselves. They are letting people run all over them. And then, the moment you finally stand up for yourself, people are going to think you are being the B word. And that’s okay to be that B word, because if other people are calling you that, then they don’t want what is best for you. You don’t have to curse or be brash about it, you can say no in a nice way. And it does take some time and practice to say no. Certain people are going to think you are the most evil person in the world when you say no. And you just can’t worry about those people. So, yes, you can stand up for yourself and be kind about it.”

Question: A lot of women today think that they NEED a man. If you could talk to a room full of women that think that way, what would you say?
“You do not a man to survive. You do not need a man to be important. You do not need a man to matter. I do love my husband and to a certain extent I need him. I want him in my life. But too many young people today need a man in their life just to exist and that is not healthy. It’s okay to have your own identity outside of your man. If you find somebody that is your soul mate and you love them, that is acceptable. You can’t need a man to define you. You still need to be you. You have to be yourself. You have to find your worth outside of a man. I’m still Dee Dee without Derek. I still want Derek and want to grow old with him but I have to find my value and my worth outside of him. I love him and I want him here but I know who I am outside of my relationship. There are so many girls I see that don’t see their value and beauty without a man in their life. I’ve been blessed in the fact that I’ve always gotten along with AJ and Corey’s friends, even the friends that are girls. They call me Ma and it’s so sad to see some of these girls lose their worth without a man. I just want to ninja jab the guy because they aren’t appreciating the value of these girls. Find the value and love within yourself first before you go looking for it somewhere else.”

Question: Do you have any advice for girls that are shy and want to become more outgoing?
“Find something you are comfortable with and go with it. I’ve always suffered from low self-esteem but I am witty. I ‘m quick witted so when people say something to me I can use my wit to fire back. My wit is my security blanket and has helped me not be so insecure. Find something and expand on it. I’ve started taking kick boxing and I still get nervous in new situations. I make myself go in there and I challenge myself. I’ve made a couple new friends this week already. Find something that you are comfortable with, and then expand on it.”

Dee Dee with her boys!

Lightning Round
1.       What is your favorite color? Red and black
2.       What was your first job? A perfume sprayer at Gayford’s
3.       Where is your favorite place to shop? Dillard’s (right now)

4.       Who is AJ’s best friend on the football team? Kenny Bell

5.       Do you go to all the games? I try! AJ and Corey have two younger step brothers (Gage, age 12 and Coco, age 10) who play football on Saturdays so we rotate. We probably make at least 80% of the games.

6.       What is your favorite lipstick? I’m not girly so I need something that will stay on all day. I use CoverGirl Longwearing Lipstick.

7.       Do you prefer heels or flats? Heels!

8.       What is one piece of clothing every girl should have in her closet? Beside high heels, a great jacket!

9.       What is one beauty trend you don’t like? Heavy make-up/heavy eyeliner

10.   Who has more fun: blondes or brunettes? Brunettes!

Thank you so much Mrs. Dee Dee for letting me interview you and get a better knowledge of the truly AMAZING and EMPOWERING woman you are!!
Roll Tide Everyone!

1 comment :

  1. First of all, thanks so much for posting this interview.

    I happen to know Dee Dee Bonner so I can attest to her wit, her character and yes her beauty. I've only met one of her boys, AJ, and he's a totally decent and polite kid and so proud of his mom, as she is of him. As us southerners are apt to say, "That boy was raised right"!

    I hope Dee Dee gets more than a fleeting measure of fame, she deserves it. And oh yeah, Roll Tide!