The Body We’re Born With
I am very fortunate to have been born with a smaller frame with a higher metabolism. These two gifts allowed me to go through most of my life being relatively ‘thin’, which in American culture is considered ‘good.’ We can blame ‘the media’ for all the emphasis on beauty and bodies or we can accept responsibility that we, each of us, have a choice about how we think and feel about body shapes, ours and other peoples.
“Beauty” Around the World
When I thought magazines were going away, I was pretty happy. No more news stands with 100’s of pretty faces and bodies (all minor variations on a theme) staring back at me. But they haven’t gone away. Unfortunately.
But even if they had, we’d still have ads, commercials, movie stars, beauty pageants, etc. We’d still have ‘social norms’ around what is beautiful and what isn’t. This is tremendously unfortunate. If you have the good fortune to travel around the world, you see an astounding beauty in people everywhere. The attractiveness of people in one culture, is totally different than in another. This is good. It’s up to us to broaden our definition. I admire Alicia Keys… read what she has to say about the tyranny of makeup.
I’m not against makeup or fashion. They are both fun and interesting. It’s when we feel that our self worth is tied up in “looking good” or looking a certain way, that we wade into problems. Taking care in our appearance can be appropriate. Feeling less than because we are not thin or blond or cool or rich or whatever… is a waste. of. energy.
The Myth (Damage) is Reinforced
We give our little girls dresses and bows and we give our boys trucks and blocks. We tell little girls that they look pretty and that by looking pretty, they are giving something great to the world… themselves. Boys are strong, girls look good. We give boys tools, sporting goods and expect them to run around and be wild. We give girls books, tea sets, costumes (especially princess costumes right?) and then expect them to sit inside and play quietly.
Understanding The Burden of Expectations
I recently heard an interview with Glennon Doyle Melton whose book, Carry On Warrior, describes her journey as a pretty woman. While you might think, hey, I don’t want to read about the troubles of a pretty woman, I have real problems! It turns out that reading about the world from her point of view is actually very informative as to how we might change our language, patterns and thoughts regarding physical attractiveness.
Be the Change
I have been blessed, all my life, with a total disregard for my personal appearance. Some of this is because I was born with that ‘thin’ body and fall within many acceptable concepts of attractive. I could afford to be cavalier about my looks. I was also came of age in the 1960’s and 70’s, when Hippies roamed the earth. Hippies don’t care about their looks. They care about peace, love and rock n’ roll.
I’m not suggesting that everyone stop caring about their appearance. I’m simply asking that each of us think about “bodies”. Do we think fat is ugly? Do we think people need to be thin in order to be ‘acceptable?’ Let’s all stop for a minute and ponder the beauty of a human. In all our shapes, sizes, colors, ages and genders. Being human is the most wonderful gift… Let’s appreciate the ability to walk, smell, taste, sing… It’s all good.