My friend Connie (you can read more about her at the end of this post) has provided this excerpt from her book, Culture Rebel. Ladies, you need to read this!
You are not called to be hot. It is not meant to be your life’s ambition.
If it’s not our main purpose, then why does it seem every media outlet is trying to tell us that this should be our top priority? If I’m not called to be hot, then what on earth am I called to?
Ever think, “I used to be pretty” or “I wish I was beautiful?” I’m finding a lot of women echo the same statement. Just the other week I was looking through photos of me in my late 20’s. I couldn’t help but think, “Wow! I was so . . . thin!” I can’t believe that back then I thought I was chubby. I started scrutinizing myself then compared to now. Well, that’s not fair. Back then I was kid-less and in my 20’s! We’re talking pre-grey hairs, pre-aftermath baby flubber. Now I know it’s time to hit the hair salon when my bunch, not just a few, a bunch, of grey hairs show up (they’ve migrated to my eyebrows too. Who gets grey in their eyebrows?) Now, instead of looking for my skinny’s, I’m looking for my Spanks . . .
Many mourn the weight they were back in their teens. There’s where I can find some comfort. I was heavy as a teen. I actually weigh less post-second baby, so I can’t empathize with those gals. But I understand mourning past weight from before baby. I have all these awesome clothes that I can’t fit into. For now, I’m stuck with two outfits that actually fit . . . And God-forbid, the other day I checked myself in a three-way mirror. Is my butt really that big? And for heaven’s sake, why did someone not tell me I have a double chin?
I remember in grade five I decided to ask to be beautiful for Christmas. That’s all I wanted. I didn’t ask Santa for that one. Nope, I went to the Big Guy and asked him to take my chubs away, fix my teeth, and make me breathtakingly beautiful. I woke up Christmas morning avoiding the mirror right away as I wanted to be sure to give God thanks for the amazing gift of beauty he gave me that morning. After pouring out my heart of thanks, I approached the mirror with great expectation only to find . . . Connie foo foo/Connie Chunk still reflecting in front of me. I was devastated.
Years would go by of bullying, boys mocking me by saying, “I don’t know why you’re going to the dance. No one would dance with you because you’re so ugly.” Alas, I was quite the ugly duckling. Looking back at pictures, I still cringe a bit. I would find comfort when some well-intentioned adult would say, “Don’t worry, it’s just baby fat. You’ll grow out of it.” When the “baby fat” was still there in grade 12, I wondered when this would ever happen. And note, no one ever said I’d “grow out” of my teeth. Perhaps they knew that was a lost cause . . .
I turned out to be an average-looking teen. A definite step up from childhood post-braces, but still Connie Chunk nonetheless. A mentor in my life said to me during my teen years, “You and I are just average-looking people.” She then pointed out a couple of girls we both knew who were, as she stated, “really beautiful.” At the time, my heart was crushed. You mean, I was average? I wanted to beautiful like the other girls!
I am average. You’re not going to see me on the cover of a magazine–even on days I put in a lot of effort. I’m at peace with “average.” My husband doesn’t seem to mind “average.” The only thing I don’t want to be is “cute.” Try calling me that and see what happens. Unfortunately, my hubby says that’s exactly what I am. Cute. Urgh.
It’s that exact word, “cute,” that makes me spend so much money. I’m trying hard to ditch the “cute” and get the “hot.” A new outfit, highlights, a little tan, maybe a bit more blingy earrings, and as uncomfortable as they are (and even more uncomfortable when carrying children), I’ll force myself into heels if that means “cute” has left the building. What’s wrong with cute? Marketing doesn’t sell cute; it sells sexy. It sells “hot.” “Cute” just isn’t good enough.
“Though we long to be found attractive, we were made to notice others” (Margot Starbuck, Untamed). Brilliant. I want to do that; however, it’s harder than I thought. It’s hard to let go of the self-obsessing. It’s embarrassing when my husband is the one catching me in the act of “checking out” other women. It takes discipline to walk into a room and not think about what I’m wearing, or “did the wind completely wreck the hour I just spent on my hair?” and focus on others in the room who deserve my undivided attention. It’s hard to live in a world where Eva Longoria is the standard for middle-aged women. We have to stop being mentored by The Real Housewives of . . .
Whether or not we care to admit it, Desperate Housewives has sold us a message we’re buying into. Without realizing it, we have sold out for a life of self-objectification. We buy into media’s lie that we are objects to be viewed, so you’d better give them a view worth looking at. If you’re a really good view, they’ll post you up on billboards to help them sell billions of dollars worth of products. Your picture will inspire young girls and women to do all they can to become just like you. You will model for men the way a woman was created to be viewed and treated. You will cause mass eating disorders.
The problem with self-objectification is that it oppresses women. It silences their voice. It shuts down desire to rise to leadership roles that don’t involve a modeling contract. It blinds our eyes to the answer we can be to social-justice issues in our communities. It dumbs a woman down to the point where she won’t aspire to anything but a posing object. Deep inside her could be the heart of an Olympic athlete, a CEO, or a philanthropist, but it would never be known because of the tormented mindset she’s been sold.
Just before you excuse yourself from thinking you are a victim of self-objectification, see if one or more of these apply to you:
* the number on the scale determines your mood for the day
* you keep track of how many people comment on or “like” your new profile pic
* you are keenly aware of how many men have looked at you while walking through the mall (you might think this is only for the single women; married women do this too)
* if men aren’t looking at you today, you feel you need to “step up your game” by getting your hair fixed, going for a tan, putting on more makeup (again, married women are not excluded from this circus)
* you would never dream of leaving the house without makeup
* you hate not feeling sexy
* you struggle with your eating–either not eating or eating too much
* you crave praise from your fellow females and love feeling like the “alpha”
* you have a hard time not thinking about your body all. the. time.
* you obsess about what goes in your mouth
*you compare yourself with other women
* when a woman steps up to speak, you’re thinking more about what she’s wearing than what she’s saying
* you read fashion magazines for inspiration
We have a pandemic of women who are losing desire for their husbands and engaging in casual flirting (that sometimes spiral places they didn’t intend). All in the name of just wanting someone to validate their outward appearance. The problem goes further. While we obsess, our daughters are watching and following in our footsteps. Young women are following our example, causing a movement of girls starting as young as age 8 thinking their only reason for existence is to look like a supermodel. We have failed them, ladies. We have distracted them from their real life’s purpose by our own stupidity. Our boob jobs and tummy tucks tell them they are not beautiful they way they are. Our self-hatred speech is teaching them how to talk and think about themselves. While we’ve been obsessing about ourselves in the mirror, the young girls of our nation have grown up way too fast, allowing boys to treat them like the objects we’ve allowed them to believe they are. We owe them an apology. It’s time we start being the role models they deserve.
The good news is, you don’t have to fall for this any longer. You can be free from self obsessing to become who you were created to be. You weren’t created to be desperate, you were created to be dangerous. You have life-changing impact living inside of you. That’s what is going to make you beautiful and vibrant, not another Botox treatment. Dangerous will look good on you. Go try that on for size.
Connie Jakab is the author of the book Culture Rebel. Connie is passionate about rebelling against status-quo living and encouraging others to branch out. Connie is an active advocate for poverty reduction in her city, the founder of WILD (Women Impacting Lives Daily) as well as Mpact (www.mpactdance.com), a dance company that produces shows based on social-justice issues. Connie drives her passion outward into the arms of those wanting something more radical and meaningful in life. Connie is an active speaker and lives with her husband and two boys in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She can be found at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Culture-Rebel/ and on Twitter.
© 2013 Amy Simpson.