Here’s a thought from Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist monk and peace activist of international renown, that is well-suited to our modern era: ‘To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.’
Heads up: sometimes, we just have to say, “This is who I f-kin’ am.’
True, it’s always best when it feels true to us and best, too, when we say it calmly.
Best when we say it during a neutral observation of our emotional landscape.
Best said, once we understand how our feelings and thoughts manifest themselves through our actions, reactions and inactions.
Yes, a sustained deep dive into finding facts and truths is worth it … and worth fighting for, too.
Sexual objectification in ads, films, music videos clips and on social media affects many of us, girls and women, boys and men, too, across our lifespan.
Body shaming in its various forms sucks many millions of all ages down the dark rabbit hole of anxiety and depression.
Sexualised fashion that showcases breasts, buttocks and high slits only aggravates the situation for girls and women but Photoshopped celebrity pictures aggravate the situation for both genders.
Because the images seen on these media are often ‘air-brushed’ by makeup artists, lighting specialists and filters, the desirability they suggest can be emotionally damaging because it is unrealistic.
Bambi-eyes and pouting lips – and an emphasis on curves – are as current now as they were decades ago.
As current as they were in 1942 when Walt Disney produced Bambi, the film.
Oddly, despite the incredible array of powerful personalities we see day and night on our screens, when it comes to mainstream fashion and its emphasis on ‘vamping’ up women’s bodies, our freedom of choice – of self-expression – is not anymore liberated today than it was in the 20s, 40s and 50s.
The range of what is currently deemed fashionable is almost as limited as it was back then.
It hits the same notes as those hit by the ‘vamps of the 20s, 40s and 50s.
We understand that very young people are susceptible to the feedback they get on social media. Not getting as many “likes” as they would like makes them feel inadequate.
But, presumably, dear Reader, you are no longer a teenager, so, you and I understand that being a true adult is about thinking and behaving like someone who has indeed ‘come of age’.
Serious questions: doesn’t being active or passive participants …make us enablers of the ongoing contamination that is the objectification of girls and women?
Isn’t that contamination somewhat like that of the C-19 virus that keeps spreading – one variant after another – creating ongoing ‘transmission within the community’ here, there and everywhere?
How long before, en masse, we find a shared purpose in creating a sustained, robust, peaceful, joyful ‘fashion disturbance’?
Uh, why the hesitation?
Seriously, is it reasonable to assume that a fashion-driven but desexualised allure would rob women’s lives of all fun and meaning?
Reality check #1: regardless of our gender and identity, edited faces and bodies are never truly ours. Not even when we take our selfies on an amazing hair day, at an angle to the camera, shoulders straight to show confidence, neck forward, doing our best to extend our jawline while smiling – and all aglow in the perfect amount of light.
On a more spiritual note, it pays to remember that, in fact, we are not our bodies.
That we are not our mind, either.
That, as confirmed by modern science, we ‘simply’ are energy compressed in a bodysuit of flesh and fluids.
Reality check #2: we are the same pure, high-frequency energy as that which connects all humans and animals, all flora and ALL there is in the universe.
So, instead of ruminating and fretting about our imperfections and our imagined separation from – and competition against – others, we can practice a deeper understanding of the mantra ‘So hum’.
I am one with the universe. The universe is in my body. I am THAT.
And our ability to internalise ‘That’ is our ability to know freedom.
Freedom throughout the long string of moments underfoot.
Reality check #3: if attained, when sustained, the fabricated enhancements of our faces and bodies, the flags of our emotional insecurity, are obtained at considerable cost and effort.
Cost and effort are prompted by the thought that we, of all ages and genders, need to project ‘more’ than we are – which, of course, is a tad deceitful.
Reality check #3: even for those who, like me, were born in the early 50s, the perception of others that we ‘don’t look our age’ is intended as a compliment.
As per the culture we have collectively embraced, however superficial, carefully reviewed and curated hints of ‘youthfulness and beauty’ are markers of social relevance and personal worth.
And so, the remark that one looks good at any age is intended as an acknowledgement of an achievement of sorts.
Presumably, one that is found relevant by the onlooker.
So, just as there is no need to self-denigrate, there is no need to be brazen and push our body parts into everyone’s line of vision.
Equally, there is no need to go frumpy and crusty.
Messy hair and baggy clothes alone are not the solutions.
Equally, just as we appreciate physical and sexual diversity, together and separately, the free-thinking beings that we think we are could do a lot more to cultivate a greater appreciation of a personalised presentation of our selves.
Emotions and thoughts, when left unchecked, take us places.
Not always where we want to go.
So, it’s up to each of us to make sure we make our feelings and thoughts lead us in the direction of our choosing.
As neutral observers of ourselves and others within our culture’s social fabric, we could identify which of our feelings and thoughts get a thumbs up and which ones don’t.
Here’s a thought: how about we focus more on supporting the behaviour we want to see become ‘second nature’.
Inner and outer inclusivity could become one of our main drivers.
Heads up: the active acceptance of What-Is and How It Is … is an engaged, inspired action that leads to change.
It takes courage to get to know our innermost radical selves.
Knowing ‘that courage’ frees us to live a beautiful life.
One that is well-worth living.
Cheers! To us, dear Reader 🙂