Body Image Warrior Week: Rosie Molinary

This post comes from Rosie Molinary, author of two amazing books about body image and a fabulously inspiring blog. Rosie is as insightful as she is compassionate, and  her courage and strength inspire me on a regular basis. Read on for Rosie’s contribution to Body Image Warrior Week:

An Announcement

 

Years ago, there was an ad (Nike?) that I just loved. It read:

You are born. And oh, how you wail! Your first breath is a scream. Not timid or low, but selfish and shattering, with all the force of waiting nine months under water. Your whole life should be like that: An announcement.

I tore it out when I saw it and plastered it on my vision wall in my bedroom, my eyes focused on those words: an announcement. Could I live my life like an announcement? And would the way I lived my life be worthy of an announcement?

I am reminded of that ad when I watch my son, in his full self-possession, move through the world. He is irrepressible, embodied joy, electric. He, indeed, lives his life as an announcement. He’s not scared to make an announcement, and he is certainly not scared that his announcement isn’t good enough. Just by being, his announcement is special, he reminds me.

Every single child begins that way – we all begin self-possessed and confident about our announcement. All of us come into this world playing big, not small. We don’t suppress our cries or laughs or joys. We don’t think badly of ourselves. We live life as an announcement and what we have to announce feels worthy, valuable, like a gift to the world.

But, too often, somewhere on the way to adulthood, something shifts. Our sense of our own brilliance fades. Our understanding of our own beauty dims. Our announcement is quieted. Maybe it was the media that overwhelmed us. With instant access to information, with thousands of images shot at us every day, maybe we digested and internalized too much of the scrutiny. Maybe it was an unintended slight that stung us or a comment that someone delivered flippantly that we have held onto forever. Maybe it was not being chosen for this or being ignored by them, maybe it was a loss so significant that it still seems like our soul is empty from it. Maybe it was the way our body matured into adulthood that felt like a betrayal, or the way that it didn’t.

Whatever it may have been that stole away that central understanding of our inner and outer brilliance, I refuse to believe that we can’t get it back. And, even more than that, I believe it is crucial that we, in fact, do get it back. The world’s needs are too great and each of us has some role we are meant to be playing in addressing them. For every minute that any one of us spends distracted by some belief we have that we are not good enough, that we are not already what this world needs right now, that’s another minute that the world remains unhealed. And the world’s needs are too significant and our gifts too important to solving its problems for anyone of us not to be doing what we are meant to be doing.

For any one of us to play small means our world stays broken. For every minute we spend in the mirror, lamenting what’s wrong with us, the world’s wrongs keep spinning by. For everything left unsaid, the people most meant to hear that message are denied even longer. It is all cyclical and all of our announcements are a necessary part of our process.

And, so, today I want you to ask yourself this critical question.

What is your announcement? You are being given, over and over again, an audience of one. Every single person in this world is going to sit down in front of you and give you the time you need to make your announcement. What is it you must make sure each person knows. What do you need him to understand? What do you need her to grasp? What is your announcement? It doesn’t have to be earth shattering. You don’t have to be the only one saying it. It simply has to be yours, the natural gift you bring to the world in your own unqiue way.

My announcement, boiled down and stripped bare is this: the world needs each one of us as an essential element in its healing- in our healing. And to do that, we must get on with our own healing, live our passion and purpose and give our gifts to the world. We must begin administering our particular brand of CPR to the world and its suffering.

What is your announcement? Or even if you don’t know all of it, what is the beginning of it?

Here is what I know for sure: the closer each one of us gets to living our announcement, to healing the world in the way we were meant to be healing, the closer we get to the world we are meant to have (and the further and further away we get from the mirror and our critique of ourselves because when we are fully living our announcement, we don’t have time to be paralyzed).

I am ready to live my announcement. No more playing small. No more playing scared. No more denying my voice. Join me.

Rosie Molinary empowers women to embrace their authentic selves so they can live their passion and purpose and give their gifts to the world. The author of Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self Acceptance and Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image, and Growing Up Latina, she teaches body image at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and facilitates transformative workshops and retreats for women. She blogs at http://www.rosiemolinary.com.

 * * * * *

February 27 – March 3 is Body Image Warrior Week. Throughout the course of this week, you’ll read posts from an inspiring group of women who fight hard against body image oppression through their own words and work.

Participants in Body Image Warrior Week are:
Already Pretty
The Beheld
Decoding Dress
Dress with Courage
Eat the Damn Cake
Fit and Feminist
Medicinal Marzipan
Not Dead Yet Style
Rosie Molinary
Virginia Sole-Smith
Weightless

Image courtesy bookgrl.

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  • Beautiful post.

    • Thanks so much, BrokeElizabeth. So glad it resonated with you.

  • An announcement. Wow. A truly moving and beautiful piece of writing. Brava! Love the idea of Body Image Warrior Week.

    My announcement- You want to give love and kindness to the world? Give it to yourself first. Learn to listen to, and follow the nudges of your greatest, most loved self and you become a force of love and kindness.

    Thanks so much for the encouragement to make that announcement, and to get up and live it.

    • Lesley, I am with you– I love Sally’s idea for Body Image Warrior Week. So very cool. And I am wild about your announcement. Yes, yes! Give it away, girl; we all need to hear it!

  • Lynn

    I wholeheartedly agree with the post, but I think we have to be sensitive to those for whom just getting out of bed in the morning and going about their day is an announcement. Confidence may not be attainable by those who are depressed or dealing with a serious illness/life crisis.

    • Oh, Lynn, I think you are on to something very important and that is that announcements don’t have to be about going so out of yourself that living them is hard. Announcements should be about begin who and how you are– and the lenses one brings to this world- are essential to that. And so if one has depression or crisis, then their announcement is really about how they live in that. Announcements are our truth, just as we are, and truths are what we need more of in our world. Thank you so much for your compassionate, thoughtful sharing!

  • Iris

    This is a wonderful post. I may have to print it out and hand it to everyone I meet.

    I’m not sure I know what my announcement is – it may have something to do with a kind of mantra which I’ve recently adopted, and which I try to repeat to myself when ventures into the news or academia make me sad about the world or something in my life or myself doesn’t seem right: “Change is possible.”

    • Oh, Iris, I LOVE change is possible as an announcement. I need to be reminded of that myself. Thank you!

  • Interesting post. Maybe I’m coming at this from a different perspective (introvert vs extrovert?), but to me self-assurance comes from feeling like you don’t have to announce yourself, like you don’t have to be ‘bam, here I am!’ all the time. [Side note: I certainly wasn’t confident like your son when I was a kid; I was painfully shy and timid. For me becoming an adult was learning how to have self-possession in the face of adversity and conflict, not losing it by being over-socialized. Maybe this is a difference in approach – emotional vs intellectual?]

    Self-confidence seems to have become the metaphorical spackle of our times, but self-confidence backed up by nothing is hollow and meaningless. We are all, each of us, enough as we are, but we are also flawed and make mistakes. It seems like too many people are self-confident in a way that is negative, in a way that is thoughtless and encourages them to run roughshod over other people and not think about their actions. I’m not saying you or Sally espouse this, quite the opposite, but it is why I get frustrated with everyone saying “self-confidence is the answer” all the time.

    Now that I’ve been a downer 🙂 I do like the idea of what is your announcement, what is your core thing that you want to share with the world, and make manifest in your life. I suppose that mine is the question of how the world works, why it is the way it is, and by implication the fact that collectively we make choices that shape the world, and we can choose to make things different than they were in the past.

    • Laura, Oh, I loved your thoughts for so many reasons and they weren’t a downer at all. Interestingly enough, I am a strong introvert and so appreciated your remarks of that contrast. In this post, I am really using the word announcement (because I was reminded of that ad) in lieu of purpose– I don’t think our announcements have to be screamed-but I do think there is something really powerful about our purposes being lived– and that finding and living our purpose (without feeling you must cave to pressure from outside forces as to what it should be or how living it should look) is really the root of what we must do in this world. I hope that makes sense.

      I appreciated your thoughts about your own childhood and then coming into yourself as an adult. My son is a toddler– so he’s just running around feeling life right now– but that approach might change– his young life has already faced challenges that would warrant that- and I am totally open to however he needs to be and helping him navigate it without dictating it.

      Am wild about this passage you wrote: Self-confidence seems to have become the metaphorical spackle of our times, but self-confidence backed up by nothing is hollow and meaningless. We are all, each of us, enough as we are, but we are also flawed and make mistakes. It seems like too many people are self-confident in a way that is negative, in a way that is thoughtless and encourages them to run roughshod over other people and not think about their actions.

      Yes! And, yes, we are absolutely enough as we are, and we are neither perfect or imperfect– we live life, we learn lessons, we regroup. But I think things like reality television, helicopter parenting, etc have created this illustration of and desire for an over-inflation of self that I think really isn’t rooted in confidence at all but insecurity.

      Finally, so felt your announcement about how we collectively make choices that affect the world, and we can choose to make things different. It really resonates with me. Thank you for sharing!

      • Thanks for replying, Rosie, and I’m glad you found my feedback constructive and not irritating. (It’s interesting, I don’t remember, of course, what I was like as a very small child, whether my shyness was still a factor or not – I should ask my parents. I know I was fairly timid, from stories. I wonder if that attitude was inherent, or influenced by being sick when I was quite little, or just something that happened.)

        I like the idea of ‘wearing’ your announcement, of inhabiting it in everyday life rather than making it an actual declaration. Thanks for the great food for thought.

  • This reminds me so much of Marianne Williamson’s famous words:

    Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.