Sunday, August 17, 2008

More Thoughts on the Indoctrination of You Are Not Enough Meme

The media and big corporations rake in billions from making us feel like crap. I think it is even more damaging to women and girls of color, especially in the United States, because the promoted standard of beauty starts with and ends with white women. Typically that is the only promoted definition of "woman".

It's funny though because I once found a religious text that defined the word W-O-M-A-N as soft. Yes.....SOFT. Some thesaurus examples of soft are: satiny, peaceful, smooth, comfortable and not harsh. Yeah we can be brazen and raucous, too!

Whenever I think how that displays itself in romantic liaisons [from an admitted hetero perspective] I think how men tend to be more compact and sinewy. You touch them and they can have muscles that are hard. Their hands tend to be rough as well [manicures and lotion are always a good idea]. So I can imagine as a contrast how comforting it must be for them to touch a woman. I'm not talking about BMI [which is not reliable] or suggesting that women can't be muscular as well. It can be a nice give and take situation to explore.....

Anyway back to the subject at hand.

Our self-esteem can take a nose-dive when we're bombarded by messages that tell us we're not good enough. Yes we can take actions to counterbalance that but we need to recognize it for what it is. It's a massive campaign effort to get us off focus, absorbed in doubts about our worth and take away our focus from doing the greater good. And don't forget getting our money.

You know Harriet Tubman wasn't worried about getting older. She didn't base her worth of having the latest gadget, outfit or hairdo. I'm sure she struggled with just getting enough food to eat period. She could have just gone on with her life after she decided on an uncertain future - but one of her choosing when she decided to escape from being enslaved. Not only did she succeed but she couldn't accept that others were left behind and went to save as many who were willing to take a chance. She had a belief system and acted on it. She had a plan and committed to it. Failure would have meant death. If she had been born this century I wonder what she would have become? Would she have been portrayed by some in the media as being an "Angry Black Woman" for speaking out on post-colonization and the roots of poverty?

I struggle with trying to live an authentic life while being true to myself. I struggle with defining myself by MY standards and no one else's - including my family's. I know that I have a lot of privileges in comparison to many throughout the world, but I also have certain obstacles that are unique to my gender and race. Including lousy pay. I've seen the salaries for jobs decrease while every staple [housing, food, etc] has greatly increased. If women were paid on par with men and had equal opportunities for business ventures we could support our families and move away from poverty.

We can't undo past hurts or present mistakes, but we can move forward as best we can towards a brighter future. That future may not encompass all the things we desire but will prayerfully include the things we need. In the meantime we have future generations of young women [and men] to nurture and protect.

And just for the record I like latte macchiatos, well-made shoes and traveling to foreign countries. I have an in-born affinity for luxury. I am a Leo afterall! But I also realize that attaining that "American Dream" extols a high-price on the rest of the world being that so many have to be left in abject poverty to support it. Being the descendant of those enslaved whose income helped fund the War of Independence and the building of this country while receiving no acknowledgement of that contribution has not gone unnoticed.

So before I totally spin off to a new tangent let me bring this back to my original point. Despite all the distractions and noise I see a clear path of a certain direction we can take to empower women. We are the ones who have inspired and led movements. When Christ was resurrected the first person he went to was Mary Magdalene. I'm not so sure I buy the theory that she was a sex worker [prostitute], I think she was someone who didn't conform to male patriarchy, which depending on where we live could result in so-called honor killings or being referred to as a whore by the National Enquirer. Shirley Chisholm ran for POTUS in 1972. She was not supported on a large scale by the self-appointed leaders of the feminist movement, but she did it anyway. Benazir Bhutto set aside her fears to fight for her country even under the threat of death. She paid the ultimate price but offered a powerful example of a person who would not take the easy route. Phoolan Devi was another brave woman who defied her society's definition of what her place should be.

So.....Dove has been promoting their Campaign for Real Beauty where they try to counterbalance the negative aspects of the beauty industry [and selling products]. Yeah, it's a double-edged sword but dang it for being clever. I still give it the side-eye. Now the irony is that this commercial I'm posting comes from an advertising agency, but the thing is, they KNOW their demographics and how to sell products. But we gotta have lip gloss. What we don't need is to think we're incomplete without it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post!! I'm so trying to escape this meme myself . I live in in the Caribbean and unfortunately I have to live under my family's tyranny until I can achieve financial independence. Do give side eye to dove about their product while their company preach real beauty in America in other countries like India they preach the joys of light skin with their product and the inferiority of dark skin.