I have spent so long being ashamed of my cellulite, so long feeling like a mutant for getting five-o-clock shadow on my legs, so long convinced that my decidedly non-flat abs were an embarrassment. I have spent so much time and energy trying to measure up to the unattainable standard, tearing myself down for being different, consumed with the shame of being … well, a human woman.
Many of the messages that cause women to internalize body hatred are shame-based. Shame is a slow-growing, timed-release kind of emotion that can linger in your system for ages. It’s a fantastic tool for lording undeserved power over people, or manipulating them into uncomfortable or unnatural action. Shame works on us like a virus, and can be just as hard to eradicate. Especially when it comes to messages about how bodies “should” be shaped, sized, and configured. Shame is what we feel about our bodies when someone else decides that they’re not good enough. And damn it, they’re ALWAYS good enough.
Originally posted 2010-06-21 05:24:00.
More than a year ago, I saw the film Miss Representation. It was moving and inspiring and upsetting all at once, and even after months have passed I am still mulling its contents. One of the unexpected aftershocks comes in the form of a phrase that’s remained lodged in my brain. A political expert was explaining that the number of American women who show interest in pursuing political careers is dwindling. An oft-overlooked reason for this? There are relatively few women in politics right now. And – here comes the phrase – if you can’t see it, you can’t be it.
Originally posted 2012-11-08 06:09:38.
Therapy has taught me that I can seldom change the behaviors of others. I spent years dating men who needed just a few minor personality tweaks to be perfect, years embroiled in friendships with people who would be awesome if I could just shore them up through one more massive crisis, years accepting jobs in toxic environments that would’ve been amazing if I could just have taught my superiors to appreciate me. And finally, one day, I got it. Maybe I could gradually affect certain minor behaviors, but I could not fundamentally alter anyone. Not directly through confrontation, indirectly through example, or passively through patience. I had to either find better relationships, or learn to manage my own contributions to my current ones more effectively. I had to change myself to react differently to people and behaviors that hurt me, and stop expecting those people and behaviors to change.
Originally posted 2010-05-17 05:48:00.