Saturday, September 19, 2009

To Thine Own Self be True

There is a magazine aimed at women of "a certain age" that is supposed to be focused on their concerns, interests and needs. If I could grade them, I'd give them a D. For all their efforts, they failed on so many levels that I cancelled my subscription.

This magazine assumes women over 40 have "made it" career wise, income wise. They publish preposterous stories about female lawyers, doctors, executives etc who take year long sabbaticals to "find themselves" in the Yukon, Africa, Timbuktu -- or quit the working rat race altogether to reinvent themselves by following their long lost dreams. They leave their jobs to make jewelry, crafts, design handbags, whatever ad nauseum.

Well, good for them but the average working woman I know can't chuck it all to follow pixie dust trails or give in to the itchies of wanderlust. The women I know are working hard to send their kids to college, pay their mortgages, and many find it a luxury to have their hair and nails done. Who are these women who can afford to chuck it all? I don't know them and I can't relate to them.

The other thing that bothers me about this magazine is their push for us to all look like what we're not. You can't be 50 and look 50, no you must look 40 and 40 is the new 30 and so on. The message is to not to be all you can be intellectually or personally. The message is all about the physical. And, to drive in that point month after month like a wooden stake, are the the "this is what 40, 50 looks like" spreads. Of course they don't look like any of the woman I work with or see on the street. These "models" showing off their age are well preserved Dorian Gray types who must either have plastic surgeons on retainer, great genetics or are sucking someone's soul via a painting stuck in their attic!

This section doesn't inspire me, it makes me feel bad about myself and worse--it also makes me feel sad. I feel sad that women are put under such scrutiny and pressure to be what they are not; to continually surround themselves with smoke and mirrors. In the end the message we get is that it doesn't matter how good a person we are, how loving, giving or how accomplished. No. In the end what matters is what size you are, how many wrinkles you smoothed over and hid and whether or not you were able to fool others in to thinking you are far younger than you really are. What a brass ring to strive for!

Whatever happened to celebrating our true selves? Shakespeare said, "to thine own self be true" but we aren't and we're not encouraged to be either, not by society, not by the media, not by one another. Now, I'm not saying we stop covering our grays or wearing makeup. What I am suggesting is that we embrace who we are, wrinkles and the lumps and bumps that come with years of gravity. Let's remember its all the years we've lived that made us who we are inside our hearts and minds: women of courage, faith and love.

If we allow this path to continue, our daughters and grand-daughters will continue to buy into this plastic culture that equates personal worth with beauty, not character or intellect. Already we are witnessing the effects with young women starving themselves in the name of "beauty," young women devaluing their bodies by sex-texting images of themselves to boys who could care less about them, never mind love them. Sadly, what these women don't "get" is that unless they value themselves first, no one else will.

It's the women who need to raise the bar, not men. (men are at fault too, but that's another post). If young women didn't voluntarily take their clothes off to pose nude, there would be no porn, no Playboy etc. If young women didn't want to play into the "sex sells" mentality, there would be no Hooters or risque ads. But, somewhere along the way women bought into the idea of being validated through sexuality. For all the brave generations of women who fought sexism in order to gain the vote and equality, what a let down. This was not what they fought for.Why did things go so wrong?

What young women may not realize is that they hold alot of power. They can rise up and reject being used as sexual objects for men's entertainment or business profits. They can stop being expendible by not giving themselves so easily and freely. They can and should expect fidelity. They should just say NO. It's a simple as that. And, while I'm at it, young women shouldn't live with anyone prior to marriage and commitment. Let men work a little harder for your love and body before you so easily share it. Most of all, let yourself be cherished.

That message also can be applied to women of other age ranges. Let's cherish who we are--from age 6 to 86 and beyond! With each age comes new growth, adventures, wisdom and lessons. Let's embrace who we are at every stage in our lives otherwise one day we'll start seeing magazines making octogenarians feel badly about themselves too, telling them that this "is what 86 looks like" and strutting someone who looks 20 years younger because the are air brushed, photoshopped and is really the exception to the rule, not the norm.

Ladies, let's live and love who we are! We may not be size 0's, might have a few wrinkles, lumps and bumps but I predict that once we start loving and accepting our true selves, men will too--and eventually, dare I say it, so will the magazine and entertainment industry.

A song by Jonny Diaz, "A More Beautiful You"
Little girl fourteen flipping through a magazineSays she wants to look that way But her hair isn’t straight her body isn’t fake And she’s always felt overweight
Well little girl fourteen I wish that you could see That beauty is within your heart And you were made with such care your skin your body and your hairAre perfect just the way they are

There could never be a more beautiful you Don’t buy the lies disguises and hoops they make you jump throughYou were made to fill a purpose that only you could do So there could never be a more beautiful you

Little girl twenty-one the things that you’ve already doneAnything to get ahead And you say you’ve got a man but he’s got another plan Only wants what you will do instead
Well little girl twenty-one you never thought that this would come You starve yourself to play the part But I can promise you there’s a man whose love is trueAnd he’ll treat you like the jewel you are

So turn around you’re not too far To back away be who you are.To change your path go another way It’s not too late you can be saved If you feel depressed with past regrets.The shameful nights hope to forgetCan disappear they can all be washed awayBy the one who’s strong can right your wrongsCan rid your fears dry all your tears
And change the way you look at this big worldHe will take your dark distorted viewAnd with His light He will show you truth And again you’ll see through the eyes of a little girl...

A new life has begun! II Cor 5:17

A new life has begun! II Cor 5:17
God's GPS