I was thinking about the collective consciousness as it relates to body image for girls and women. The other day I watched this trailer to this movie:
In this short clip, we learn: 91% of women hate their body.
While I'm certain the actual movie has more elements in it, once again we hear about the media's role in the 91%. I get it, it makes sense....
However...because of the work I do, how many woman I've connected with, the observations I've made and of course...there is that little thing of me -being -me....I view this pervasive number as much more complex than just being about the media.
This insidiousness lives and breaths in women, against themselves and each other and honestly.... Many mothers gift their daughters with their own body image issues even if they don't mean to do so and some mothers...absolutely mean to do so because their mother's meant to do so....
“The story doesn't begin with grown women being massacred in the workplace or in the press. It begins with innocent little girls who become convinced, for whatever reason, that the girl within them isn't good enough.”
― Marianne Williamson, A Woman's Worth
I remember shorter-thin women judging my taller-thicker body. I could feel this and I wasn't even a teenager yet. That wasn't the biggest of deals to me though...
At all times, all humans are seeing through the lens that belongs to them. From their perspective, thoughts, Ideals, and their own point of reference.
In this case-I was made very much aware of what a woman's size shoe should be....vs what my shoe size was turning out to be!
I would love someone's shoes and that usually somehow led to a grown woman saying to an 11, 12 and then 13 year old me "Wow, you have BIG feet!" Like the wolf in the Red Riding Hood Story "My, what big feet you have..." OUCH....
Either that, or when someone would offer I try them on, they did not fit. It was very confusing because I wasn't one of those evil stepsisters in cinderella but I could feel there was something amiss. Not intentionally, just unconsciously.
There are some things you have no control over. Things like, who your parents are, the number of siblings you have, the neighborhood you grow up in, how tall you grow, or the size of your feet.
There really was nothing I could do about the size of my feet.
In the end:
I had to grow into my own feet from a psyche standpoint. It was either that or I could just stop befriending petite women with little feet who didn't really mean anything by it. To them and their Dante little lives-my feet were huge and that's the thing.....
Perception is everything and perception usually exists from where that person stands, their upbringing and more. If you're standing in size 5 shoes my size 10 is double. Of course my feet are huge to you. If you've been in a neighborhood where your smallness is somehow considered more feminine or more attractive, you will pick up that consciousness.
If you are 4 foot 9 and you stand next to me at 5 foot 9...I am a foot taller than you...Therefore...I am a giant. To you. Not to everyone on the planet though.. Or in reverse...either way...these are the little subtle things that go down...
What is that?
I don't understand.
Every time I see a REAL WOMAN-has curves, is short, is tall, is this or is that...I cringe on the inside for all of us.
Why are we still allowing ourselves to be a part of the cause of the over all problem? Real women come in all different shapes and sizes... However, we also live in a culture that shames everyone for everything at all times. Our obsession with weight is a form of insanity in all of us and we are all guilty at some point in our lives.
The lack of consciousness in us women....is probably where we can hit the nail on the head, so much more so than going outward to blame the media...cause if we started with ourselves and each other....there would be a shift. But that is a very TALL ORDER (No pun intended there)
If we are going to talk about media...imaging....How about this goddess-coming in and SMASHING the mold....Oh RIGHT ON!!!!
In 1989 she was named by Elle as one of the five most beautiful women in the world. She appeared in several Elle layouts in the late 1980s and early 1990s. She has appeared on the covers of Outside, Shape , Women's sports and fitness, and life magazine.
Or this little piece of information for those who are model-centric:
Roman Young, an agent at Elite Model Management in Manhattan, confirms that the average shoe size for models has climbed to a 9 or a 10, matching their statuesque height (the average is 5 feet 9 inches or 5 feet 10 inches).
However; if I had a daughter who outgrew my shoes.....I would absolutely teach her how to research and use the media to work in her favor. That's where I would spend my time and focus. Primarily because her brain is still developing, she's getting hit with messages at home- from me and anyone else in our home, at school, on T.V. even on the soccer field. Everywhere she goes....there is no stopping that unless you put her in a bubble and don't let her out until she's 25 years old. Tempting but limiting her ability to grow- doesn't help.
There are just so many amazing women role models of every shape and size doing amazing things in all area's of life that any girl can connect or identify with. Saturate her existence with the good, the positive and more. When we do that, her ability to remain true with what feels right and what feels wrong to her...will remain intact. She will also be able to spot a bully from a mile away because she will be able to feel the difference.
Of course I don't know this for sure, it's just what I would do if I was raising a daughter in our culture now.
My stepdaughter (still my stepdaughter in my heart) I'm no longer in that role with her, however, I hope I served her well as it relates to these types of things.
"What's your excuse?"
While this doesn't induce warm and fuzzy feelings...This actually did work. For her and the women who were inspired by her. She became a media sensation, her book sales went up and she actually inspired other mothers to stand up for themselves. The backlash of her being seen as bullying other mom's didn't stop her, didn't change her..she stayed true to her values, beliefs and thoughts. Unapologetically. Her apology was literally a non-apology which actually made her even more popular.
Why did this baiting toward other moms work?
Because of the 91% and because being a mother, being responsible for other human beings and/or being outnumbered can take over a woman's entire existence at the expense of everything else...including herself. And sometimes she will need something as simple as this to get her to pay attention to what is true for her. For another woman, this feels like bullying, for another woman, this is completely meaningless. Who cares...
It really just depends.
As far as Maria Kang goes....
Ms Kang was competing in beauty and fitness competitions since she was a teenager. She stopped to get her degree in college, developed an eating disorder. Which means, this mother who is baiting other mothers of young children has been in the 91% too. She fits into our culture, the very well known "Freshman 15" and more.
Clearly, she feels passionate about what she feels passionate about because she's been a woman in the 91% herself.
Hard to know that truth when you're looking at this young mother in the image and she's in your face comparing herself to other women in that way...I think that's what's missing and if she just took a minute to be more authentic about what it was like for her to be a young woman with an eating disorder...she could have helped so many more women...
I'd love to see her going into colleges to talk about that...and how she got her own power back...
It's usually harder to reconcile a woman this pretty, petite or fit could actually still be in the 91%
Unless someone is overweight or severely underweight it is not detectible and most women will look at you and roll their eyes if you even mention you hate some part of your body.
We often exist on a surface level. Not fat, not skinny-you must be fine, healthy and good to go. Clearly, the 91% says otherwise....
The Multi-Service Eating Disorder Association (MEDA) cites the following statistics on college students eating disorders:
15% of women 17 to 24 have eating disorders
40% of female college students have eating disorders
91% of female college students have attempted to control their weight through dieting***There is that 91% again....
Women shame each other all the time for various reasons. Physically, psychologically, sexually, socially and more. Covertly and Overtly.
"Darling Girl....Don't waste a single moment of your life being at war with your body."
Easier said than done but it can be done....it starts with us women, collectively....just my opinion....
Michel Horvat, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles states: “It just doesn’t get talked about that much. We are sold on what women want as much as women have been sold on what men want.”
An interesting scene from the movie: P.S. I Love You
Denise Hennessey: [Denise is admiring Ted as he walks by] Ooohhh, he's delicious, isn't he? I'd serve coffee on that ass.
John McCarthy: Do you have to be so vulgar about men? Like they're pieces of meat?
Denise Hennessey: Sorry, John. I forgot you're sensitive about your flat ass.
John McCarthy: You know, Denise, that's why you're not married. Women act like men, then they complain men don't want them.
Denise Hennessey: Oh, is that why?
Denise Hennessey: Oh. Okay. Because I thought it was something different. I thought that it was because I thought I deserved the best and he's out there. He's just with all the wrong women. And let me be clear. After centuries of men looking at my tits instead of my eyes and pinching my ass instead of shaking my hand, I now have the divine right to stare at a man's backside with vulgar, cheap appreciation if I want to!
Sharon McCarthy: Well said!
Denise Hennessey: I thought so.
Yet, what made the moments in this movie so fun for us women...was scene's like this one. Maybe not the perfect example because it is Gerald Butler after all...but his ability to be playful, fun and make fun of himself -where his wife is laughing....that's the intimacy most of the conscious women I know are looking for.
Make a woman laugh and you're more than half way there......(usually)
As for me....
The difference lives in them. Not me. It's impossible for me to not know this.
There was this woman in my neighborhood a while back. At first, when we spoke she would look down at my belly as she rubbed her 6 pack abs or lifter her shirt to expose her abs. Young woman. Competitive woman. That's what some unconscious competitive women do.
Instead of just pretending that wasn't happening. I would say "Is there a reason you're staring at my stomach?" Eventually she stopped and that had zero to do with me or my belly. At the same time, for me...
her focus was very strange. I could feel there were joys, shares and laughter stuck some place underneath her obsession with body image. With abs. With her abs vs my abs.
At the very same time as that is happening -by that evening I could be lounging around with a person who is rubbing my belly with care and a great deal of love and that becomes mindless movement as we are chatting -but because the focus is caring and love...its workable and its workable because it's based on connection
And ....that is what I do every morning anyway. I rub my entire body with a great deal of love and appreciation.
This is not rocket science here.