Recently, I was a part of a good-sized group of women for a fabulous project. We had numerous photos taken of our group and were filmed several times. Which...gave us ample opportunity to do that thing that women nowadays do: self-deprecate. Some of us were masters at it: Thick ankles. Frizzy hair (that would be my one remark I made about our initial shot). And so on went the list of body parts that didn't measure up to some internal and perceived social expectation. Except for the one comment about my frizzed hair, I refused to join the banter, even though such is a cultural form of fun, verbal-play. But is it harmless? I think not. Consider:
How can we expect our culture's young girls to grow up strong and confident, knowing that they have it WITHIN themselves to be all that they can be when they hear the adult women in their lives berating their own external appearances?
As I flow toward the half mark of the fifth decade of my life, aging presents me more opportunities to remember it's not about the external and to celebrate (Can I celebrate? Can you celebrate?) what these changes mean. They hopefully mean another year of well-lived life. The opportunity to breathe, learn, grow, play, love. Maybe they mean, or can mean, a little wisdom comes with the gray hairs, the creases, the body parts not so firm anymore.
Can I love me? Can I love ALL of me? Words have power. When I put it out there what I don't like about me--and I had at least one item on the list of didn't likes about every one of those photos and film clips of myself--I'm dumping toxicity into the atmosphere. Negative energy. I'm saying it's okay to put myself down. It's okay for women to put themselves down, to criticize their body parts. I'm saying I buy into an expectation that I must look a certain way to be okay. To be accepted....To be loved. Loveable. Love myself. To cut down our bodies is to comodify ourselves. We are not comodities, despite what Madison Avenue has, for decades, brainwashed us into thinking.
If I put it out there, this toxic stuff, not only am I infusing the energy space around me and others with negativity, I'm turning inward on me. And that, I truly believe is poison. Scientists have, in fact, proven that negativity--thoughts, verbalizations, of any form--creates destructive chemical reactions within our bodies. Dis-ease can create disease, as people in the wholistic community have known for decades. Scientists are just catching up. But it's still a cultural anathema to say such things....
So, here's to another year. I've learned, for the most part, to keep my mouth shut about verbalizing what I don't like about my physical appearance. Here's to another year: The wisdom and self-love I look forward to growing into more fully is to not have those thoughts at all. Or, as I'm learning, to meet myself half-way: when I have one of those negative thoughts, to bat it back quickly and love that part of me that I've just put down.
Hello, 54. And, Welcome!
Here's another perspective. Please click here for a video about transforming hate of our bodies to love. A story of western women.
Photo by the very talented Kerry Woo, photographer of our Nashville Inaugural Listen To Your Mother show, April 26, 2014. You Tube videos out late summer, 2014. Taken in "The Green Room," backstage, Tennessee Performing Arts Center. Kerry promises he did not photoshop this. He's simply gifted.