With tears streaming down my red, acne marked cheeks, curling iron in hand, I silently curse Farrah Fawcett and her ilk, all the women and girls who can use this archaic torture wand to adequately style their hair.
Oh these women, the Valerie Bertinellis, the Jaqueline Smiths, the stupid popular girls at school, how they plague me. All day long, every day, as I sit through class and watch my hair fall, I wonder, how do they do it? How do they keep their hair from falling out of the curls and into their eyes? There must be some form or witchcraft, just beyond my reach...
Gone were the care-free days with my ponytail, gathered at the back of my head, just above the nape of my neck, and hanging down the middle of my back. Oh, the days of simplicity, where I barely needed to look at myself in the mirror. How I missed them.
I couldn't tell what was more painful, having to stand in front of the mirror for two hours every morning, or the constant awareness all day long that my efforts were once again, for naught.
Fucking Farrah Fawcett.
This was the beginning and the end of my tangle with beauty products. I didn't really totally give them up until I was in my twenties, and still, occassionally, I will put on make-up for a wedding or what have you. But I have one hard and fast rule: If my hair is to be done, it will be done by someone with skills. This usually involves having my Bestie, Annie do it or going to a salon when she is not handy to get myself an updo.
After the years I spent in front of the mirror torturing myself, I learned several valuable lessons:
I wasn't meant to look like these women. I was meant to look like me. This is a hard lesson to learn when you are changing and growing and you are being directed towards things which you don't completely understand, but it must be learned, if you are to have any peace at all.
You are meant to be you, and you are the expert of your you-ness. Sound Seussian? Well, it is. In all the best ways. The world will tell you to look like other people. Your friends, relatives, the TV, movies, magazines, they all present the current idea of what a woman or man should look like, including publicly shaming people that don't with horrifying programming dictating "what NOT to wear." While those people might be nice to look at, they are not real, not a one of them. Not as far as you're concerned, anyway. They are fabricated images created to get you to want to change into them by buying stuff that will guarantee that.
I know. It sounds super boring. But that is the reality. All those beautiful men and women are just as real and miserable as you are, and that is because they are also trying to be something they are not.
Some people go through their ENTIRE LIVES on this hamster wheel, never getting anywhere because they are not trying to move towards themselves, but towards an unattainable fantasy that no one can accomplish.
This is the nightmare of consumer culture. It takes you away from yourself and keeps you from seeing the beauty within you and the beauty that surrounds you, because it gives you a false set of parameters by which to measure people.
How do you get off it? Listen to your body. It will tell you. Crying for almost two hours every day and worrying for another 8 told me, eventually, that I was just trying to be someone I wasn't. My body was begging me to stop every single day. And I didn't listen because of all the messaging thrown my way. I doubted my body's messaging even though it was practically screaming at me.
This is the true beauty of our bodies. They know us. The know who we are before we do, and they always have our best interest at heart. It is up to us to turn off the TV, put down the magazine and LISTEN. That is all. Just listen to your body. And pay it the respect it deserves by acting on its messages.
Farrah Fawcett doesn't really deserve to be cursed, nor does anyone else who is striving to fit into impossible beauty standards. It is a trap that is too easy to fall into, too easy to believe, and too easy to spend your life chasing.
But it is not impossible to break away. All it takes is a few moments, all it takes is a willingness to listen.
Are you willing?
I brought back an old image for this post because I thought it appropriate. Evolution happens. My work is changing still. Get ready for new stuff heading your way. It is gonna be EPIC.
I am not sure there is anyone alive or dead who has not been scoffed at, made fun of, or told directly that they are in dire need of a make over. That is and has been the nature of our culture; to focus on the external and suffocate and suppress the internal.
It is one of the worst things about going to school; the anxiety that someone will put you down for the way you look. This fear is not unfounded, bullying behavior has been a problem ever since schools were created.
And the family. There is always someone remarking on your skin, your body, your clothes, your hair, or your shoes. It is one reason family holidays are so grueling; the fear of judgement.
We don't even know what we can do. We are literally in the dark about just what the human body is capable of. We only use a fraction of our brains, and have spent the past several decades suppressing, instead of exploring and discovering our potential.
This is what it means to be body positive; to understand, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that what is going on inside your body is a mystery that you have the unbelieveable opportunity to explore over the course of your life.
Being body positive is not necessarily about loving your body. It is about respecting your body. It is about caring for your body. It is discovering all the amazing things your body can do. We have been taught to focus on image. How much hair we do or don't have, if we are large or small, young or old. This focus keeps us from discovering ourselves. This keeps us from our potential and it keeps us from seeing the potential in others. For if we do not take the time to focus on our own abilities and hidden talents, there is no way we will take the time to see that stuff in other people.
People ask me all the time how to love their bodies. There is one answer for everyone, but the path each person takes must be their own. Get to know your body. Give it what it needs. Listen to it. Care for it. See what it can do if given the opportunity. You will never know how great you can be if you are focusing on all the ways you do not measure up to society's ridiculous standards. Stop looking at pictures that make you feel bad. Don't buy products which are innately geared to communicate your failings to you. Stop dieting.
Accept the reality that this culture wants you to be profitable, not well adjusted, not healthy, and not self-sufficient. Don't take it personally. Just go about your life as if the society in which you live will challenge you to forget your own best interest. If you can move about the world understanding that you are more valuable than what your image could portray, then you are already ahead of the game.
Body positive means having a solid relationship with your body, your innards, your particular flavor of freak. You must champion your cause. Be the inspiration for others to do the same. Shine your light so that it blinds the motherfuckers who are trying to sell you the latest anti-wrinkle cream.
And after all that work, after you have figured out how to focus on you, after you have developed a healthy relationship with your body, I bet you will also discover a love for it which will astonish even you.
Body Positive and PROUD of it. Share, email it, Tweet it, FB, whatever the kids are doing these days. And THANKS for stopping by!
I am exhausted. I have worked my ass off. I have tolerated untold amounts of bullshit. I have suffered liars, fools, and brutes. All of them, because I wanted to know the feeling of being loved. I wanted to feel the radiating warmth of someone who loves me.
I have given up so much of my dreams, so much of who I thought I could or would be. All because I wanted to be loved.
All of that sacrifice, all of that tolerance was just a myth I told myself. It was a fable based on the wrong idea that I could not be loved just as I am. That I in some way had to prove my worth for love.
I learned it from my mother. With her, I had to tolerate a certain amount of lying, resentment, and neglect in order to feel loved. By the time I was ten, I could tell when my mom lied to me. I couldn't always prove it, but my body knew it. I felt her resentment in my bones all through my teenage years. I looked back and recognized the neglect in the rear view mirror against which I measured every new love experience.
With each new love experience, I learned to tolerate new levels of deception, deeper layers of resentment, and wider swaths of neglect. Like a warrior, I toughened my skin against these battles. I wore these long relationship excursions like badges of courage, toughness, and strength. I was proud of the confidence I had won and the fierceness I had fabricated from the pain and the heartbreak I believed I had to endure so that I could be loved.
And this believing, this ritualistic observance to which I adhered, is what, unbelievably, has brought me here, after so many years in therapy, so many hours spent perfecting the armor I carry everywhere, so much love and pain and loss, I see that the relationship I am in is the one that will free me. I see that in order to feel loved, I must destroy the myth that surrounds it.
The one thing I felt I could not tolerate, the thing I felt I could not carry, has been laid at my doorstep, tightly sealed and waiting for my action. I eye it now with fear, excitement, heartbreak, and joy. But I will not make Pandora's mistake. I will face all the evils and let the hope out. I will rip the jar open and break the lid on the surface of my battle-worn skin. I will make sure that that vessel lies empty at my feet.
Everything I have built must break. All of my parameters must be destroyed. All of the familiar landmarks must be wiped away. They belong to an antiquated belief system which is no longer of use to me.
I recognize the love in my reflection, yet I did nothing at all to earn this love. I have in fact done everything to push it away. I've been drunk too much, raged too long, screamed till I was hoarse. I have hurt people too deeply, turned a blind eye to injustice, and looked out only, for number one. I have spoken the truth in the name of truth so that I would hurt people. I have blamed others for my own weakness. I have put myself in harm's way out of desperation.
Yet, I know love. I feel it. Love's viscosity rumbles through my veins and wakes me to my own light. It purges my body of the doubt and fear with which I have armed myself. It drives me forward and gives me the strength to stand in the quiet hush of nothing.
I have a tattoo on my back, written by James Baldwin. It states: "Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growng up."
I got it because my mom introduced me to James Baldwin, and in many ways, introdoctrinated me into the dance with love that would dominate my knowing.
I now see that within it, I have come to know love. I would not know love if I had not known the battles or the wars.
No, I would never say love is easy. Some people never truly know it. We are trained against it, taught to believe that we are naturally predisposed to war. But this is not the case. It is not that war is natural, it is that war is easier. Battle only takes a moment of rage, an hour of desperate loss. Battle is a reflex.
Love is a practice.
I couldn't help it!!! It is NATIONAL POETRY MONTH after all! I just couldn't NOT DO IT. Let me know what you think here people. Yay or nay?
Be a part of A Love Rebellion. Spread love, hope and compassion.
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