This morning my dear friend Jodi and I talked (over two delicious bottles of Jugo Fresh) about the importance of initiating and engaging in certain conversations. The one we were having had nothing to do with this but I'm mentioning it because more conversations about this need to be initiated. On the way to meet Jodi, I was listening to NPR and happened to catch a show discussing the media's bashing of Ashely Judd. The media has recently been on her case about a picture that came out where her face was very puffy, calling her "old, fat and mangled by plastic surgery" but also more recently on her case about the op-ed piece she wrote in response to the wave of criticism. That I heard, there was one pro-Ashely voice who was sounding off in the same vein Ashely did and one con saying some pretty silly things like "She is a celebrity. Her body is the public's. She put herself in that position so why is she complaining? blablabla...."
I am not here to say women have it so hard and men don't because... or women deserve this and that more than men because... or anything like that. But I deeply appreciate what Ashely did. First of all, it stripped her of her celebrity status and proved she is just a person whose body and life is her own. It proved she does have the right to complain because even though she sought fame and fortune through acting, she did not forgo the right to an opinion or to elucidate grievances. And most of all I just love that she spoke up for the inane ways people incorrectly judge others and spew vitriol without having any idea about a person's real thoughts, words, intentions or emotions. Women have to deal with that a great deal- from themselves, from other women and from men because of the deeply rooted misogyny we have all come to live in and accept. I want no part of it. I have heard women actually say this: "I wish I could leave the house without a drop of makeup on." To which I have replied, "So, do it." Their response (every time): something to the effect of, "NO, NO. I couldn't possibly do that!!! Oh, nooooo" followed by a nervous laugh. Women WISH they could leave the house without make up on but they don't because they fear the judgment and scrutiny of others. I don't know about you but I find that very, very sad.
During the show, the pro-Ashley woman talked about how important it was to break the cycle and not only learn to love ourselves completely, however and whoever we are, but to teach our children to do the same. She went on to say that it has taken a great deal of effort to stop staring at herself at bath time in front of the mirror and say things like, "My God, I look terrible today," or "I am so ooooooold," or "I wish I was 21 again" and I think she is absolutely right to do so. Even simple things like that start to plant seeds of self-doubt in the smallest of children. It is this unrelenting patriarchal society that has brought us to low points such as the tv show "The Swan", "Girls Gone Wild 1 - 500", female infanticide and mutilation and the turning down of a size 12 plus sized model because she is "too fat."
Sitting here thinking about all the beliefs and judgments I have had to let go of throughout the course of my life, I feel somewhat angry but mostly relieved to not feel that kind of anxiety towards certain things anymore. I look back and am just wide-eyed with awe at some of the things I picked up along the way through friends, adults, teachers, parents, etc etc, whom I all trusted as ever-wiser than me without any real merit of said trust sometimes. I always thought I could only go so far because I was a Latin girl. I always wanted boys so that they could take care of me in my old age. I didn't typically outwardly express any desires to be anything too lofty because since I was a girl it would "sound silly." I never tried out for sports although they looked fun to me because I "wasn't good at them" (not that I ever really tried one). I was sure every Indian person in the world smelled funny. I thought all black people were to be pitied because they ALL were dirt poor, came from the projects, and subsisted on welfare. I thought all Jews were wiping their bums with Ben Franklin. I thought all Mexicans were alcoholics. I believed I was to never be wealthy. I was certain all men were strong enough to lift a car over their head. And since all women were to be buxom, bum-some and beautiful, I always felt inappropriate in my thin, non-curvy body. Even now when I leave the house with unkempt hair and not makeup and I see a tall, designer-clad, completely made-up "beauty", I sometimes have this knee-jerk reaction: "Geez, I could have spent a little more time on myself before I left the house, huh?" I laugh now, but WOW at all the things I accepted as truth just because something or someone else told me it was.
What am I trying to say with all of this? Just that women are sacred as all of life is sacred. It's time we start treating every aspect of it as such.