Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Media Messages and Insecurities

Lately I started to hear myself and I wondered what happened to the feminist artist that I use to be.  The one that spoke about body image, confidence and the power of self.  I know I am still this woman, but her voice became muzzled by the "realities" of trying to raise a child and the overwhelming need make enough money to feed and support us both.

Then the other day I noticed that each time I went to my mother's house I would stand on the scale.  "Damn" I would think, "I need to loose 10 pounds!"  If I could only be ten pounds lighter...  I began secretly looking at all the slim quick products on the Walmart shelf and each time I passed the mirror I thought, "Where did these gray hairs come from, and what's up with the wrinkles under my eyes?"

Yep, I had begun to age; after hearing these thoughts, as I stared in the mirror, I realized how much pressure I put on myself and my appearance.  It was fine when I was the little hippie girl that danced at Evolve in my flowing skirt who announced to the world that, "it didn't matter what you looked like as long as you were happy," because I was only 22, tall and skinny, no gray hairs or wrinkles in sight.  It also didn't matter that now, at 34, people still only think I am 25, in the end I felt inadequate.  OMG...I felt inadequate?  Where the hell did this come from?

I couldn't help but flashback to the previous year when a good friend of mine took me through an inner child exercise.  She had me close my eyes and picture myself standing in front of mirror, she asked "How old are you in the mirror?"  The rule of this game was I had to answer quickly without thinking and I responded, "28" without missing a beat.  She continued, "Now I want you to look down and next to you there is your child self, how old is she, describe her to me."

Again I responded with ease, "She is 12, she has big plastic glasses, freckles and a homemade perm." What was interesting was I could have picked any age, why did I pick twelve?  I realized in that moment that was the year that my life became overrun by bullies who reminded me each day what they thought of my appearance.

My friend continued, "Look down at that twelve year old, what is she thinking?" Right away I replied, "She thinks she is ugly." In that moment something shifted in me and I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

"Now," she instructed, "I want you to look down at that twelve year old little girl and tell me what your 28 year old self thinks of her."  What happened next was by far one of the most healing experiences I have felt in a long time.   I had changed.  As a mother I looked down at her and I responded, "She is so cute, so beautiful!"  It was a transformative experience.

 My point is that media, messages, and advertising continually influence our subconscious. Therefor, we cannot let our insecurities take the wheel  in our  lives, rather we should be forgiving of our insecurities. Maybe in order to reverse the effects we all need to take time to speak to that little girl inside each one of us. Remind her, she is not inadequate, she is beautiful!  That in every stage of our lives we should celebrate ourselves as women and maybe, just maybe, the sound of the media and the message will be muffled by the truth.

I love the way Nelson Mandela phrased it for all genders to realize:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most.  We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won't feel insecure around you.  We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It's not just in some of us; it's in all of us.  And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."