Pin-Up Calendars and "Proper" Spouse Behavior


Some Ft. Bliss wives recently got together to shoot a pin-up calendar for their deployed husbands. I wish this has been in the works when SpouseBUZZ was at Ft. Bliss last month. I would have loved to watch a pin-up girl photo shoot! Photographer Tara Ruby says the intent behind getting these wives together was to "encourage camaraderie and new friendships among the women." 

While the story itself is interesting, it was a particular quote from one of the participating wives which caught my attention.

"It also gives us a little break. As an Army spouse, you are expected be proper all the time; this (photo shoot) lets us let loose, allows us to just be girls."
I would hope everyone, military or civilian, aims to behave properly. There's nothing wrong with proper. I'm not sure what "expected to be proper all the time" means in this context, but it's an interesting observation. One which made me think.  

I believe there's a misconception among the general public, and even inside some military circles, that military life is this constrained, buttoned-up, stifling existence. At one point, perhaps it was. Even during my years as a military spouse, I've seen changes in some areas. Overall, from my vantage point, military life has become less formal and more casual. Spouses, once pushed deep in the background, now have a voice and aren't afraid to use it. 

But there will always be lasting traditions and customs. They are formal and when they're being observed, "proper" etiquette is both required and expected. And yes, military personnel can be called to task by their superiors over things that civilians would not have to answer for. Our spouses are held to a high standard. It goes with the uniform. There are many things which will always separate us from our civilian counterparts and make military life unique.

But I think most people read "expected to be proper" as a negative. If the perception is that spouses are expected to attend every official function, have a spotless house, a manicured lawn, a well-balanced meal on the table promptly at six each evening, laundry done, nails perfectly trimmed and polished, kids squared away and that we're expected to host flawless parties a la June Cleaver, those days are long gone. It's an impossible standard, especially in such a high OPTEMPO environment where spouses are so often solo parenting. Who.does.that? We're no longer a "If the Military wanted you to have a spouse, they would have issued you one" military.

The quote which caught my attention may have meant that a military souse posing for a pin-up calendar could be considered "racy" by some. I'm not sure the meaning behind the quote, but the video looked perfectly harmless to me. I've seen more racy attire at some military balls. We all have our limits of what crosses a line, and threshold's will vary from person to person, but I think most of us wouldn't bat an eye over tastefully done public photographs and we wouldn't view them as improper for a military spouse, or anyone for that matter. The quote just came across as a stereotype which, to me, is harsher in perception than in reality.

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