If you think at all about how we view ourselves, how we feel about ourselves, and how we feel about each other, it is well worth the price of admission to go and see the movie, "Embrace," if you can. If you can't get to it, I am sure it will be on Netflix. I saw it earlier this week, and had the opportunity to be on a panel of speakers after. It was a wonderful event, and the take-away for me was, "how?"
How do you love your body?
How do you ignore all of the voices and messages telling you that you are not good enough?
How do you stop judging others?
How do you stop judging yourself?
How do you build a community of people around you?
How do you take your power back?
How do you feel good about yourself even if you are not perfect?
The movie went into the problem. We, humans, that is, with enough time on our hands, seem to turn against ourselves and each other. There is really no other way to put it. Men and women are expected to be idealized forms of a human which is neither attainable or sustainable, nor is it very human. Our pores are supposed to be invisible, we are not to age, our (female) genitals must appear to be pre-pubescent, our hair must be full and lustrous, our (female) bodies must be lean, but with large butts and equally large and perky breasts. If you pay any attention at all to popular culture, and measure yourself against the idealized versions of humans that are paraded through movies, in magazines, and in television shows, there is no way you can come out feeling adequate.
And that is the first part of the answer to the how. There is no reason to let this stuff into your life. It is poison. It will kill the human inside you if you give it the chance. You might think I am being dramatic, but just look at the statistics: (Thank you to heartofleadership.org)
* More than 90 percent of girls – 15 to 17 years – want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance, with body weight ranking the highest. (Source)
* Girls’ self-esteem peaks when they are 9 years old. (McGraw, Carol, “Media, hormones, peer pressure do a number on girls’ confidence”, The News-Sentinel, Mon, Jul. 31, 2006)
* 80% of children who are 10 years old are afraid of being fat. (Source)
* 9 million teens in America below 15 years are obese, that’s three times more than in 1980. (Source)
* Obese boys and girls have significantly lower self-esteem than their non-obese peers. (Source)
* Up to 12% of teen boys are using unproven supplements and/or steroids. (Source)
* Nearly a quarter of girls age 15-17 would consider undergoing plastic surgery. (Source)
*13 percent of girls age 15-17 acknowledge having an eating disorder. (Source)
* 7 in 10 girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way including their looks, performance in school and relationships. (Source)
*80% of 10-year-old girls have dieted. 90% of high school junior and senior women diet regularly. Young girls are more afraid of becoming fat than they are of nuclear war, cancer, or losing their parents. (Source)
* The top wish among all girls is for their parents to communicate better with them which includes, more frequent and more open conversations, as well as discussions about what is happening in their own lives. (Source)
And this just gets worse as we age. So how do we stop this? One word: Relationships.
Relationships because they want you to believe that you are alone. Because they want you to think that you are the first one who has ever felt the way you feel. Because they are depending on your feeling of isolation to manipulate you into buying shit you don't need. They are hoping to convince you that looking and behaving like everyone else will help you feel like you belong. But when you are spending all of your time trying to fit in with a bunch of people with whom you have nothing in common, what happens is that you miss out on opportunities to know and love yourself, and you put yourself in a position where you will feel even more alone, because these people you are trying to fit in with are most likely also just trying to fit in. The only thing you will have in common is that none of you knows yourself, and therefor, will ever really know each other.
Develop a relationship with your body based on love, compassion, support and trust. Get to know it. Get to know how it feels. Do not change something about it to fit someone else's image of what they think you should be. Find out what your body is capable of doing. Do not judge yourself on your looks. Measure yourself by your ability to grow, change, and improve. Learn to appreciate that the human body is a magnificent vehicle, and it was meant to be used, not judged based on unreasonable aesthetical* parameters. *yes, I just made up that word.
Develop a relationship with yourself based on love, compassion, support and trust. Find out your likes, your dislikes, what excites you, what scares you, and what makes you feel comfortable. Do you like challenging yourself, or are you a person who would rather feel safe? You were born into this world with the body you have, the mind you have, and the soul you have. Why not figure that out? Why not explore who you are before you attempt to mold yourself into someone else's idea of who you should be?
Develop a relationship with the people around you based on support, compassion, love and trust. Do this after you have been practicing on yourself a bit. You will most likely begin to do this naturally, but if you don't, make an effort to do so. Support people who need it. Ask your friends, family and loved ones if they need help. Do not allow the people around you to run themselves down or run you down.
Create a community around you based on support, compassion, love and trust. Include everyone you think could use it. Set the ground rules and help everyone have access to all the people in the group.
IGNORE the cultural paradigm that tells you that you must improve in some way. Shut out the messages that communicate that aging is a disease. Do not accept any messages that tell you that you are anything other than spectacular. Do not beat yourself or anyone else up for being human. We are here to be human, not perfect.
I know this sounds like a lot of work, but it is a lot of work to brainwash you too. There are people working round the clock, tirelessly figuring out ways to sell you the idea that you are not enough, so that you will buy things to fix yourself. This is the message behind most cosmetic ads, all diets, most work out packages, clothing ads, food, drinks, cars, real estate, prescription drugs, banks, in fact, I can't think of one thing for sale on the market now that does not use your fear, self-doubt, and need for love to manipulate you into believing that you need fixing.
But it is all bullshit. All of it.
There is another part of this, and this is the hardest part. EVERYONE around you is subject to this brainwashing, so they too will run you down if you are not in lock-step with "who you are supposed to be." And this is hard because we all want to be loved. To love and be loved is why we are here, and that is why it is so easy to manipulate us. We equate all of this stuff: beauty, fitness, thinness, wealth, fame, and sex appeal, with being lovable. But it is not. You do not need any of this stuff to be lovable. You only need to be you. If you come across someone who needs you to change, who needs you to be anything other than who you are in order to love you, lovingly release yourself from their expectations. It is not their fault they are brainwashed anymore than it is yours. Be kind. Chances are, when someone reacts to you as if they believe you are disgusting, it is most likely because they have been treated the same way and most likely, on some level, believe it. They are reacting to you because that is what they have been trained to do.
Tough love is required in these times. You must view this as life or death, because in a sense it is. Life is what happens when you engage, when you find yourself peeling aways the layers you have built up in the process of protecting yourself. Life is what happens when you can open your heart to who you really are. Death is what happens when you try your damndest to be like everyone else. Death is what happens when you do everything you can to distract yourself from your feelings. Death is what happens when you twist yourself in knots trying to please other people. That is death, whether your body is alive or not, that is death.
So, after how, the next question is will you? Will you get up the courage, the strength, and the focus to shut the bullshit out and build a life you can be proud of? Will you get up the nerve to ask for help if you need it? Will you reject the dominant paradigm that tells you that you were not born as a being of potential, but rather as a package of flaws to be addressed? Will you stand for yourself as a human, and therefor inspire others to do the same?
This is the game-changer. This is the hardest thing you can do, after years and years of being brainwashed into believing that you are flawed, to change your perspective and see yourself as a potent and fierce creature.
Because that is all it takes; not face cream, not bigger boobs, not a smaller waist, not a faster car. Just a change in perspective. This takes time, it takes focus, it takes energy, but in the end, the only thing you have to change, is your mind.
And this is something that no company in the world can sell you. There is no template. There is no one-size-fits-all. This is in your hands. Your unique, wonderful, capable. hands. You get the privelege of getting to discover who you are. You get the honor of finding out what you are capable of.
And after that, you have the opportunity to show the rest of us just how potent and fierce a creature you really are.
I think you can do this. All you have to do is start. All you have to do, is go easy on yourself. Stop believing you have to fit in to be human and start looking for just how gloriously different you are.
Be a part of A Love Rebellion. Spread love, hope and compassion.
Only the highlights from my creative life. Just click on the image.
My work is supported by my readers. If you feel like you get something out of this every week, and you feel you are able, a $3 to $15 monthly subscription will help me bring you all the ass-kicking content possible. Thanks so much for your support.