Archive for the 'beauty' Category

17
Nov
14

the right to be you

the right to be youI have been on a hiatus of sorts.  It’s not because I haven’t had any thoughts, concerns or opinions about life.  I guess I just found myself coming up against the same roadblocks, questioning the source, perhaps a common one, of these consistent struggles.

Just the other night I was out with a beautiful artist.  I have seen her work many times and she is a kind-hearted, loving individual.  Yet I hear her say the very words which plague my own heart: can I do it?  Do I have any talent?  Am I beautiful?  I know the answer to all of these questions, but when we are alone with ourselves, we tend to create a comparison which always leaves us feeling less than.  Our society, especially American society, thrives on doing and results.  The expectations placed on us, especially women, make it almost impossible to find satisfaction and pride in oneself.

Society tells women that they must achieve an idyllic beauty which requires youth.  Obviously, this is impossible as we all age, but because so many others strive to reach this imposed rule, we do everything in our power to fulfill it.  Countless, beautiful, brilliant women of all ages with whom I’ve had the pleasure to know, have shared their fear of aging and remaining physically attractive.  The constant fear of gaining even a few pounds or showing signs of a wrinkle plagues their existence.

Then there’s the expectation that women should have it all; if they don’t have both a successful career and children, they disappoint someone.  Many women work hard to obtain an education and use it to compete in an unequal marketplace which not only expects them to give as much, but for less compensation.  Simultaneously, society also places pressure on women to have children whilst making it virtually impossible to maintain the same level of job performance.  Meanwhile, if they do give attention to their work, they may feel guilt or anxiety over their parental role.

As a result, society continues to place women in positions which inevitably cause them to seemingly fall short of its expectations in one area or another.  Personally, I’m tired of never feeling like enough.  No matter how much personal fulfillment I may find apart from society, as soon as I step off my island, I am reminded of my failures.

So how do we break this pattern?  How do we defy these expectations and create ones which build us up rather than tear each other down?  It is hard to walk this path against the grain alone and I don’t believe we are meant to go it alone.  Life is short.  Can we come together and simply claim the right to be ourselves?

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03
Aug
14

I’ve got you in my pocket!

i've got you in my pocketCan the pockets of our clothes reveal our self-perception and society?

Sitting in a movie theater watching the pre-show reel, my husband voiced his concerns for my cell phone.  All possible pockets on my person were bulging because I did not want to bring a purse for this event.  As a result, the only optional home for my cell phone was my back pocket.  This was quite worrisome for my husband who keeps his phone in his front pocket.  When he suggested that as an alternative in order to avoid crushing or breaking the phone (of course he assured me that this was in no way a reflection on the weight or size of my buttocks), I told him that it was impossible.

How is it possible that it should be impossible?  After all, he was able to put his phone in his front pocket.  When I revealed that the front pockets of my jeans were not equipped with large pockets like those on the back, he appeared shocked and confused.   In fact, he stuck his hand in my front pocket to see/feel for himself.  Scandalous, I know.  However, we were not thrown out of the movie theater and continued our discussion.

“Sexist pockets,” I said jokingly.  Can such a ridiculous thing exist?  But it got us thinking about why clothing is made the way it is made.  Everyone’s body is different; shape, size, age, function, etc.  However, designers have discovered a way to classify and label clothing according to a specific standard. The questions that follow are:  who chose the standard, how was it determined and why?  Throughout time the ideal form for the human body has changed.  Has the human body changed drastically over time?  If so, have bodies changed due to some form of adaptation to the environment or in order to accommodate or mimic the trends imposed by society?

Whatever the answers may be, the clothing of our present society reflects certain expectations of different kinds of bodies.  Why do some bodies need or deserve large front pockets and others do not?  Or one can take the opposing perspective and ask why are some bodies are burdened with large front pockets and others are not?  Why are some fabrics used for one body and not another?

Perhaps the most important question to ask is this:  are we allowing society to fit us into their predetermined pockets or are we choosing to fill whatever size pocket we want with who we are?

06
Apr
14

merely objects

dolce-and-gabbana-ss-2014-womens-advertising-campaign-04-zoomAre women merely objects?

A woman’s body: the source of life, love and beauty.   As such, it is a resource to be protected, coveted and desired.  Unfortunately, as a result, man has objectified women.  Women are defined as objects to be obtained and utilized for man’s pleasure.  I came across this current ad for Dolce & Gabbana in a Cosmopolitan magazine which provides some pretty stark evidence to support this reality (later found on the internet)- yes I confess I was paging through it while getting my hair cut and was shocked.  The Dolce & Gabbana advertisement depicts women as sexual objects; nurtured by and for sale to men.

I mean the two primary women pictured in this advertisement are dressed and posed as mere objects for the men to gape at.  On the left side of the photo, a woman, scantily clad, wears a spring themed outfit, representing nature.  The print of her suit is strategically placed as the stem of the flowering plant appears to be growing from her genitals; signaling her ability as a woman to bear fruit.  This could be a sign of power but for the men to her left, who fertilize and feed her with the bread of life in the most convenient form of a phallus which she heartily consumes.

To the extreme right of the ad, is a woman wearing gold coins.  The meaning of this could not be more clear as this woman epitomizes objectification by becoming a product that can be bought.  Her value lies in her body, not her intellect or spirit.  Instead, her position implies that she is thrilled to serve men in this way as her hand anticipates grabbing the phallus of the pelvic thrusting man close beside her.  Both of these women’s bodies are being used as objects to display clothing to other women in order to help them attract men, perpetuating the cycle.

Okay.  Some may say I’m bending things out of proportion, after all is just an ad for clothes, right?  But then why depict women in a way that dehumanizes them?  As long as women’s bodies are used to propagate the patriarchal belief that women are objects, they will be controlled by men.  If women have as much power as men seem to fear we do, then we also have the power to break the cycle.  Perhaps we should stop trading our freedom for attention and simply redefine ourselves as human beings; equal and whole.

 

 

30
Mar
14

watching life grow

watching life growLife is a beautiful thing.  Its power catches you off guard as it did me today.

Twelve years ago I held a sweet little baby boy in my arms –the first child to make me an aunt.  A special connection was forged because of that.  Over time, I watched him grow into a kind, loving and thoughtful child.  Today we were reunited at a family gathering after a four year separation by time and distance.

When he came to give me a hug I was shocked.  The little boy I remember had grown into a barely recognizable youth.  I was so overwhelmed to see the transformation of this beautiful child that I burst into tears.  Here’s this grown up young man who I always recalled as that sweet little boy sharing with me about his love for reading and science.

Time goes by so quickly.  It can be easy to pass life by without stopping to notices the little changes.  But when you see something only periodically, you can’t help but notice.  For me, it really made me think about all the things that I don’t take the time to appreciate; the growth and life that happens every day in and all around me.  From the orchid that just started blooming on our dining room table to the young adults we remember as children.

But I also think the key to appreciating something is in letting it go.  We get to know things or people in a certain way and sometimes want to continue to preserve the memory of what or who they were during a certain season of life.  However, by holding onto the idea of someone or something as we remember it, we do not allow it to change and grow.  And we miss out on the beauty of life.

Letting go is painful; but the beauty of life is in watching it grow.

26
Mar
14

hiding the numbers

hiding the numbersWhat does it really mean to grow older?

As I look at myself in the mirror, day after day, I know that changes are happening before my very eyes, but I don’t really see them.  Subtle things happen that I grow accustomed to but may be dramatic changes for others who do not see me daily (that’s what’s so great about having a partner – they don’t see things change either).  We don’t perceive ourselves to feel differently, so why should we look it?

However, over the years I’ve made conscious efforts to change my appearance.  As I’ve grown older I’ve changed my styles of dressing, hair and makeup.  Not drastic alterations, but subtle ones to compliment each aging step.  Yet internally I don’t feel any older, but I must if I’m making these changes-or has society just told me how to “age gracefully?”  Slowly covering more up over time and trying to hide years I’ve earned in my life; years full of hard work, victories and losses.  Why should I cover these things up?

We’re taught to hide as women.  Hide our age.  Hide our feelings.  Hide our desires.  But shouldn’t our insides reflect our outsides?  If we feel youthful, excited and passionate on the inside why should we cover that up with a frumpy frock and layers of makeup?  Society does not value age in women.  But until we accept and embrace it ourselves, society will never change.

As I return to the area of my childhood to see friends and family I haven’t seen in years, I know that I will have aged in their eyes.  But instead of trying to hide that or feel ashamed, I’m going to present myself proudly and celebrate that I am still here and I am still me and at every age, I am still valuable.

28
Feb
14

Disney Princesses take a stand

Disney princesses take a standWhat does it mean to be a princess?

Well, as far as Disney is concerned, it’s how a woman measures their worth – do they live happily ever after with their prince?  Although Disney has tried to update its messages to reach our current society, it still sends the same message to young women and girls:  how they should look, sound, behave and what will really bring them true happiness – a man.

In this video at the link below, however, we see the latest “princess” from Frozen finally take a stand and send the message that all girls need to hear – that they can create their own happy ending!

 Disney Princesses Take a Stand

28
Jan
14

inner beauty before outer?

inner before outer beautyCan a person see someone’s inner beauty without first being attracted to their outer beauty?

Today on the way to school I heard the radio announcer mention the name of the piece of the previous song played.  I listen to a classical station while I drive; it really keeps down the stress in freeway traffic.  Anyway, the piece was from Cinderella.  What followed was the announcer’s comment on the Cinderella story.  He said, “Cinderella, who had to dress up in order for the prince to see her inner beauty.”

Busted!  And there is the hole in that fairy tale.  Granted, the prince did not reject Cinderella after he found that she was poor, but he had already seen her decked out, so it didn’t matter.  What if he would have met her before the ball?  Would he have even noticed her then?

Everyone preaches inner beauty but do they practice it?  Do we even really believe that anymore in our society today where outer beauty is so strongly stressed?  I can’t help but wonder if there will ever be anyway for human beings to see beyond our outer layer to the mind, heart and experience of another person.  We’re all in the same boat after all; with time that “beauty” will fade.  So why spend so much time obsessing about it now?

Don’t get me wrong.  I enjoy going shopping and getting dressed up, it makes me feel good about myself.  Why?  The best reason is that I want my outside to reflect how I feel on the inside – but that’s not completely true.  If that were the case, then when I feel crappy inside, I wouldn’t dress us in hopes of making my insides feel better.  This just goes to show that we do have an inseparable relationship with our body.  We need to care for it or it will let us down and vice versa.

So where is the balance?  Are women destined to live their lives as Cinderella:  forever dressing up and going out to the bar, I mean ball, waiting for her prince charming to notice her?  Or do we wait and hope that in time someone will see our inner beauty without giving heed to how we present ourselves physically?  There must be some sort of middle ground, right?  What if we re-wrote the fairytale and Cinderella dressed up and went to the ball, but never met the prince, and instead found a new sense of self-worth and confidence that she decides to leave her stepmother and stepsisters and start a new animal training business – after all, she has a natural gift with them.  Hey, it could happen.