My body is an expression, in part, of who I am; an active, progressive individual who is constantly seeking out ways in which to grow and express my belief in individuality and personal freedom.
This dude was expressing his doubts about his own masculinity, and looking at me, unfortunately, brought that out in him. Which I took as a very good sign. For me. Not at all for him.
I am not the cause of his doubt, his pain, or his concern over whether or not he is perceived as masculine. No. And while this interaction was a bit annoying, it did get me to thinking about just how much we are conditioned to rely on external cues to tell us who we should be. I mean, it varies from person to person, obviously, but the reality is that if I relied on external cues as to how I should dress, what I should eat, how I should express myself, etc., I would never have been able to calmly explain to that unique and special individual about my female-ness.
In fact, his questioning of my unique and fantastic look is a perfect example of how dangerous it is to create your personae based on what the world expects of you. If all it takes to rattle that guy is my appearance in his life, then he is weak indeed. If he bothered me, this stranger I had barely known for a second (in geologic time, anyway), then I would have to reconsider how I am making my choices. I would have to reconsider the whole of me.
But I am not. I am stronger than the surface of my skin or the shape of my body. I am stronger because I decided a long time ago to make conscious choices about the way I would live. Not based on someone else's idea of who I should be, but my own, which I formed as I moved through the world. It has taken a long time, and I am happy to say, I am still forming. That is part of what I have chosen. To give myself room to change and leave my mind open to new forms of thought.
For too long we have been judging each other on appearance. That is what we have been taught to do, after all. We have been conditioned to believe certain things about people based on what they look like, where they come from, and whatever religion to which they adhere. And now it is time to stop. You might be wondering how. I have some suggestions which you might try. But go slow. This type of conditioning can be painful to undo.
- Go out and meet new people who look just like people you have been taught to fear
- Travel to other countries
- Read things written by people with a different perspective than your own
- Stop believing what people tell you about others; if you want to know the truth of someone, ask them
- Read fiction, short or long (religious texts are included in this category)
- Stop believing politicians. They are all liars.
- Stop watching TV. If cold turkey is too much, cut back and get involved in your community in some way
- Travel around your own country; you might just be surprised
- Listen more than you speak
- If you get into an argument, try with all your might to see the other person's side
That was just off the top of my head, but I think it gives you quite a bit to chew on, and some of those aren't even that challenging.
Part of loving and accepting your body and your life is knowing that you have created it. It is knowing that you have made choices to be where you are, and if you don't like it, you can make choices to change it. The last thing you should be worried about is your own masculinity if someone you know has, in your opinion, too much body hair. You have WAY MORE important things to think about. You have so much more you could do.
Loving yourself is a strength that gives you the power to be whoever the fuck you want. When you see it in someone else, acknowledge it. Praise it. Let them know you are impressed. Because it is the hardest thing you can do when you live in a society that profits from your self-doubt. It is the most productive thing you can do for yourself and your society to do everything you can to make yourself in to the human you want to be, not the human anyone is expecting you to be.
Just by being yourself, you inspire others to do the same.
If you have a friend, relative, or someone that inspires you in this way, thank them. It is not easy to do what they are doing in this world, and if they have made a difference in your life, they should know it.
In the mean time, be as much of you as you can be for as long as you can handle it. I know it is hard and scary and feels really awkward. But that is how it is supposed to feel in an environment engineered to encourage conformity. You don't have to be angry or violent about your endeavors to be you. It is just as easy to do it quietly, in fact, it is probably way easier. But do it. Try it. Just one small thing, and see how that feels.
I have a feeling it just might feel fantastic.