Archive for April, 2011

re-picturing WARRIORS

From worrier to warrior.

Worrier: a person who torments oneself with or suffers from disturbing thoughts.

Warrior: a person who shows great vigor, courage.

Last weekend we trekked to Minnesota, so that I could help my mom throw a bridal shower for one of my favorite cousins. The events leading up to bridal shower were, how shall I say it, a bit very stressful. As a result, my mom was very worried about the event– about the little things – would we have enough food – and about the bigger things – would there be a major blow-up between the conflicting parties.

In the aftermath, with drinks in hand, we were reflecting on how worried we were about the event and how well it actually went – we had just enough food and there were no major conflicts (perhaps a couple nasty looks, but nothing too bad).

I deeply desire that women go from being WoRRIeRS to WaRRIoRS.

I think the possibilities for this shift in frame of mind are significant.

Psychologists have suggested that rather than worrying about potentially stressful events, adopting a warrior perspective indicates that yes, it may be difficult, but we have the power and resources to cope with anything that comes our way.

I think we could also adopt this perspective when it comes to our bodies. Perhaps we can go from being at war with our bodies, worrying about how we appear to others to being warriors of our bodies, recognizing that we have strength and fighting power. Those things that experience has done to our bodies – the stretch marks from pregnancy, the wrinkles from age – are the battle scars that come with the territory. Rather than resorting to starvation or binging, which reflect a level of self-hatred toward our bodies, we could deal with difficulties straight-on. It’s something to consider.

Worrier or warrior? Which are you?

re-picturing THE WAITING (WEIGHTING) GAME

What is the waiting game?

Waiting (or should I say weighting) to lose a few pounds is a crafty form of procrastination that our society teaches many women to use.

It may be small delays.

I’ll replace my ratty swimsuit (you know the one I’m talking about) once I’m able to drop a size or two.

I’ll join that new gym after I lose a few pounds (why are there so damned many skinny people on those treadmills).

I’ll renew my vows once I can fit into my wedding dress (from 20 years ago).

But minor delays can meander into major detours.

If I apply for that job and get an interview, I’ll have to buy a new suit at this bigger size and I just can’t handle that right now.

The thought of wearing a swimsuit in front of others horrifies me. I’ll wait on that beach vacation until next year.

A first date might turn into a first kiss, which might turn into something else and I just can’t stand the thought of someone seeing me naked right now. Maybe we can go to the movies another time.

One solution for the weighting game is to take one small step toward accepting our bodies just the way they are.

Perhaps we buy a swimsuit (or a pair of jeans, or a dress, or whatever) that flatters our current body, rather than the one we wished we had. We buy a treadmill for our home, rather than joining the gym.

Ironically, doing something out of self-love for our bodies can take the focus from our bodies to the real things in our lives that are weighing us down. And it can help to lighten the load as we take small steps in the directions of our dreams.

What is weighing you down? It might have less to do with the number on the scale than you might think.

re-picturing EMPOWERMENT

Are you empowered?

Girl power, as conceptualized by the Oxford English Dictionary, refers to power exercised by girls; specifically a self-reliant attitude among girls and young women manifested in ambition, assertiveness, and individualism.

I am ALL about empowering girls and women of all ages. I strongly desire that each girl and woman be able to tap into her inner strength, trust herself, and let her own song be heard.

I am woman, hear me roar. You go girl!

When I look to our culture, however, I am deeply disturbed and angered by the conflicting and limiting messages that we send about empowerment.

On the surface, girls and women have a multitude of means for empowerment. We can do anything we put our minds to. However, a closer look reveals a message that consumerism and sexualization are often required.

Spring’s latest fashions, the fad diet of the week, a haircut that properly frames your face, and, of course, the right push-up bra (that shows just enough, but not too much cleavage) will transform you from an invisible, insecure doormat to a powerful, butt-kicking diva.

If we only had these things, we’d march into our boss’s office and demand the promotion we deserve. We’d get into a meaningful relationship. We’d start that new creative project we’ve been dreaming about. We’d finally be able to look ourselves in mirror and respect what we see.

However, what most girls and women discover is that none of these things leads to genuine, long-lasting empowerment.

What if we took a slightly different approach? What if we realized that we already are empowered. There, I said it. You heard it here first. We already are strong. We already have an inner voice that we can trust. We already know what we want and how to get it.

Perhaps then we could use our resources (our money, our time, our energy) to invest in those things (yes, even shoes) that reflect our true, empowered self?

Are you empowered? I think know so. What are you going to do about it?

re-picturing SPACE

Are you trying to lose weight? Do you often don a posture with your arms and legs crossed over your body? Do you resent mirrors that make you look bigger than you actually are? Do you feel a sense of pride or accomplishment when you can fit into your skinny jeans?

If you responded yes to the above questions, you are much more likely to be a woman than a man.

In our society, we encourage  girls and women to be small and take up less space than men. Although we may encourage our girls to have big ideas, we simultaneously convey to them that they should restrict the space they use, by telling them to sit more ladylike (with arms and legs crossed over their bodies) and through the clothes that we encourage them to wear (its hard to take up much space in skirts and tights). This follows girls through to womanhood. How many men do you know who are trying to fit into a size 6? I’m pretty sure that men’s clothing does not have a size 0. A size 0 implies that we literally want women to vanish, disappear, or to be nothing.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a firm believer that less is more when it comes to most things. Less TV, less gossip, less spending, less junk food, less stuff. But this is not the case when it comes to space. Space has both physical and symbolic power. By being bigger, we literally take up more space in our worlds. In fact, the ideal body for men often includes a muscular physique. In some ways, this is just as difficult and dangerous to attain (often through excessive exercise or steroid use) as the thin ideal body that we encourage women to attain. But being muscular gives men additional space, strength, and power. This doesn’t stop at physical space. When we focus attention on women’s bodies and how much space they are taking up, women tend to talk and voice their opinions less.

How can we encourage girls and women to take up more physical and symbolic space while still feeling good about their bodies? What strategies have worked in your own life?