Brené Brown, an academic and public speaker of international renown, has spent several decades studying the topics of vulnerability, shame, courage, and empathy. According to her, ‘Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.’
Ultimately, it’s up to us.
It’s up to how we exercise our freedom to choose.
In this post #metoo era, one in which presumably most girls and women no longer accept to be ‘objectified’, trivialised and defined by men’s subjective assessments of their various body parts, it is difficult to reconcile why so many are still attracted by so many feminised aspects of the current fashion.
Perpetuated by men and women of all ages through sexualised fashion trends, the search for inner body pride is unattainable. What fashion brings about is mostly the objectified view of ‘female’ bodies.
Together and separately, we, women, tend to forget that the tilt towards low self-worth and disrespect for our body has roots deep within the systemic family conditioning experienced during our formative years.
Heads up: the fashion industry is not the ‘bad guy’ and, in fact, there are no ‘bad guys’.
There is only a collective blend of people choosing what they choose to produce and others choosing to buy from the range produced.
The former group does it to make money for themselves and their shareholders, which, of course, benefits the global economy.
They do so by declaring that empowering us to find happiness is their mission – their passion. They are committed to it.
The latter group does it, presumably to feel better in a body that, from hair to toenails, is groomed and enhanced in many ways.
As an aside, whether those in industry sell fashion, chemical or plant-based cosmetics, gasoline or electric-powered cars, glamping holidays or cruises, sweets or healthy treats or mind and body wellness, from top to bottom, all those active within any given industry benefit monetarily from our inability to manage our dreams.
However heartfelt their intentions, those who have developed ways to exploit our insecurities thrive on our inability to tap into our genuine potential – our birthright energy from within.
They convince us as much as we convince our selves that we need them to look good, feel good and do good.
Heads up: we don’t sit long enough with the thought that, truly, the only way out of our head is in our heart. That the only sustainable way to live in more contentment than fear is by dissolving the desires created by our logical mind.
Instead of knowing our power, we constantly struggle to be ‘that’.
Instead of feeling we are ‘THAT’ through our grounding and strength.
Here’s the sting: should we collectively slow down our buying into all manner of ‘goods’, the global economy would crash.
And so … mmm …
Argh, no need to overthink this for now.
The early signs that our ‘all-consuming’ habits are slowing down have, unfortunately, not yet peeped over the horizon. 😉
Back to topic
Reality check: there is a constant re-tweaked plethora of mediatised trends that feed us ideas on enhancing and displaying ‘female’ breasts, shoulders, tummies, and legs through purpose-created fashion.
It also feeds girls and women the ‘authenticity’ and confidence they stand to gain by buying-in.
Serious question: when we know, as we do, that we cannot ‘disappear’ into the ‘character’ we project, how should we, boys and men/ girls and women, choose differently what to buy?
What would serve us better if we wanted to take our inner-outer selves to a more ethical place?
What would serve us better if we wanted to update ‘our personal drive’ to make our home a better place – on the way to ‘making the world a better place’, as is the current catchphrase?
Divisive conspiracies and false information have never been as rife as today.
However, when it comes to sexualised fashion, the ‘conspiracy’ is real.
It is intended to make us, girls and women, feel we are not enough as we are; that we need to do this or buy that to improve our chance of happiness and self-love.
The messaging also aims at males’ insecurities but to a far less extent.
Bottom line: both illegal online scamming and legal fashion marketing hope to catch us in a moment of weakness.
Both rely on a very passive form of consent.
So, awake and awake as we are, we trust our judgement and act upon our knowing.
In doing so, we actively accept that we do have our own, karmically engineered, unique gifts.
Once on that path, we learn to recognise what these gifts are. We are then better able to connect with our genius.
Serious question #1: when a company tells us about their products and adds incentives to persuade us to buy in, isn’t that a sort of manipulation technique intended to exploit human ‘error’?
Serious question #2: isn’t it a form of online social engineering run by marketing ‘scammers’ and their sponsors?
Serious question #3: are not those who promote these ‘must-haves’ behaving like the socially engineered scammer tricksters we do our best to block from our devices?
Serious question #4: in a determined bid to ‘informally’ inform the fashion marketers that their range, however vast it might seem, is seriously ‘vintage’, shouldn’t we boycott their product as eagerly as do all we can to protect our selves from scammers?
These industries’ M.O. is legal.
The mindset that governs them has become entrenched in our culture, especially since Industrialisation that goes hand in hand with Capitalism.
With every passing decade, it drains more and more of our ‘disposable’ income.
Reality check: in the past 20 years, Baby fashion has become a Tiny-Me fashion, and pre-schooler fashion is a Mini-Me one.
Even their clothes range comes in with black options.
Black baby pants. Black hoodies. Black shorts.
And then, as fashion is also embraced by every modern teenager – boy or girl – it speaks as loud as if via a megaphone. ‘I’m not yet an adult,’ it says, ‘but look at me! I already have what it takes to be sexy, to be trendy.’
Men’s fashion is somewhat more straightforward.
Manly does it. Well, mostly.
However, there is so much noise entrenched in the idea of compulsory femininity that many young women feel there is a choice to be made between being feminist and being feminine.
They doubt they can be both.
Yet, feminine is as feminine presents.
And feminist is as pro-women as one cares to think.
Even boys and men can be feminists.
For many young women, the idea of the emancipation of women means that we can promote our butt in as close to a naked appearance as is legally allowed in public.
Here enter the high-waisted, skin-tight leggings, the bootie hugging shorts and slim pants designed to emphasise and ‘serve the female curve’.
In the old days of the 70s, when caught doing something a tad risqué, many of us fell back on humour.
‘The devil made me do it’, we would say and grin sheepishly.
In 2021, we can be honest and say, ‘it’s my free will. I have the freedom to choose what to wear, how to wear it and where to wear it, but fashion made me do it.’
Some historians have it on record that Queen Elizabeth I was very fashion-conscious.
The daughter of Anne Boleyn, a woman who had been beheaded; declared illegitimate as a child and, as such, overlooked in many ways, the queen’s adult self-talk must have led her to believe that she owed much of her power to her beauty.
A look at various portraits confirms she successfully engineered her image to convey wealth, authority and power.
Voluminous shoulders framing a rigid V-shaped, flat torso shaped inside heavily ornate brocade served as visual confirmation of the dogged-survivor that she was.
In the aftermath of an attack of ‘the pox’ that nearly killed her and left her face forever scarred, the queen took up the habit of coating her face with a mixture called ‘Blanc de ceruse de Venise’.
That white mask became her trademark.
She wore it proudly.
The queen had found a way to make unanticipated facial disfigurement work for her.
She accentuated it by drawing her lips red.
Furthermore, though she always used wigs of many colours, she favoured those that were red – an unusual and controversial colour in those days.
That woman’s aim was to stand out.
Reality check: Queen Elizabeth I fashioned her appearance to make a statement about her ‘independence’.
This woman did not play ‘follow the leader’.
As it turned out, women of that era adopted white face makeup as the symbol of youth and fertility. For the noble ‘ladies’ at court, the richness of their attire was a means of expressing social hierarchy.
These women played ‘follow the leader’.
Heads up #1: that was in the 1500s! And as much as all of that seems very modern, ironically, it also makes Modern Woman seem very old-fashioned.
Heads up #2: the belief that a sexualised, feminine appearance is still as necessary in 2021 as it was centuries ago – as it was in the 1950s – is still mind-bogglingly prevalent.
Heads up #3: so is the belief that dressing in desexualised/non-conforming style is an act of bravery that can easily backfire.
Another belief is that it is about ‘all or nothing’.
But that is not what this mind-meander is about.
Just as for the consumption of chocolate and alcohol, choosing what to hang in our closets is about good taste, common sense and moderation.
These days, more than ever, many of us are our own makeup artists.
So much information is out there to help us hide or enhance whatever we want to hide or enhance to project the hair, face, hands and body we would have liked to, karmically, own from birth.
Reality check: cosmetology is no longer a pastime. It has become as essential as applying the ‘right’ clothes to our bodies.
Good news: no need to ditch the entire makeup kit – only the red lipstick and the crazy-long fake nails. 😉
And the lovely super-long, curly locks – the envy of any Disney princess.
Oh, and the layers required to achieve the soft hue and sheen of fake dewy skin intended to invoke the freshness of mountain mist.
Oh, oh … and the plumper lips, cheeks and chin.
If it is true that, as the saying goes, ‘less is more,’ then, even with ‘less’ of everything, we should still be able to look our inner/outer best.
Heads up: no need to give away our entire wardrobe, either.
No one can thrive wearing bland and wrinkled T-shirts and tired-looking jeans and boots.
We should only squirm at the sight of ‘ew’ erotic, shape-revealing garments seemingly intended for sex club workers or bachelor party strippers.
And lose the stilettoes, if only to reduce the risk of embarrassing ourselves with a public fall that would probably end up on our’ friends’ social media pages.
Giving up the ultra-high heels would also go a long way in reducing ankle sprain and lower back pain.
Heads up: oh, and why bother taping our third and fourth toes together to reduce the pain associated with wearing high heels?
After all, the Chinese custom of foot-binding, once the government finally declared it an illegal practice, stopped in 1912!
Seriously, there is no need to consider jumping off the cliff by, for example, adopting the crusty, pallid complexion sported by Nicole Kidman, the iconic Australian actress, for the character she played in Destroyer.
Having said that, we could easily cross out breasts and bra enhancers, gel implants, booty lifting shapewear off our shopping list.
Then, once ‘unmasked’, we give our face a chance to breathe by limiting the layers of facial cosmetics and skin-colouring agents. Then, the one real thing we have to tap into is our authentic … authenticity.
And to conclude this little mind-meander, dear Reader, here are words of wisdom from Sophie Lewis found randomly online.
“My body is not yours to critique and discuss.
My body is not yours for consumption.
My body is my vessel.
An archive of experiences.
A weapon that has fought battles only I understand.
A library of love, pain, struggle, victory, and mystery.
Your eyes cannot define all it has endured.
Do not place value upon my body.
Place it upon my being.”
And, now, dear Reader, from the inside/out, let’s keep doing what we know works best for us. 🙂