Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Epic Authenticity

I am not a girly girl. I never have been. I did try once, but poking yourself in the eye with one of those brush things with the black gunk on it even once was too much. It’s not that I don’t want to have long, luxurious hair, or perfectly lined lips, or a lovely, lithe body: It’s that I just don’t, and I never will. I am not those things and I don’t have those things. It used to be a really big deal to me that I wasn’t like the girly girls – the pretty ones, with “come-hither” stares that line magazines and sitcoms (mostly, I wanted to be like the ones in the sitcoms, but funnier). But I wised up. It took a very long season of extreme pain and futile efforts in just about every realm possible in life, but somewhere after all of the hospitals and scars and scales and toilets and MANY “dark nights of the soul” I began to see what my idea of “beauty” was; it was hideous. And it wasn’t mine.

We are exposed to over 2,000 ads DAILY, and the advertising industry makes a whopping 100 billion a year . The National Eating Disorders Association website states that in the United States alone, 30 million people (20 million women and 10 million men) struggle with some form of eating disorder, and we know there are MORE than those because many cases are not reported . In 2011, total sales in the beauty and personal care industry were roughly $426 BILLION . Are you starting to see the bigger system here? Who do you think is benefiting from you hating your body? NOT YOU.

Ladies and gents, if you’d never been visually beaten to death by the ideals of what a few “powerful” people believe to be beautiful, you’d never have thought that you weren’t. Your self hate pays for someone else’s life, while you, dejected, tired, and hungry bemoan your body at the water cooler with your friends at work, or as you shop for new clothes, on Facebook as you announce yet another diet beginning, or in front of your sweet daughter, who hears every word and reads every whim of body hate on your face as you poke and prod your body while you look on in the mirror.
I do not want to breed more shame, I do not want to condemn another soul – we are so good at doing that to ourselves- but I do want to call out to you because I am afraid. I am afraid of another generation of girls growing up like I did, with their childhoods stolen from them by toilet bowls and treadmills because no one told them the story isn’t true.
If you are anything like me, I “dieted” because I believed I had to, to be accepted; because no one wants to be disconnected. Yet, that’s what happens to those people perceived as ugly or fat, isn’t it? We ignore them, make fun of them, judge them. We don’t want to experience that (and this is another problem, that the same ideals that make us hate ourselves make us hate other people).

So in our pursuit of acceptance, we label others as unacceptable. We chase diet after diet to avoid being unaccepted and potion after potion because we believe what these products and diets sell us. We can’t even see that they aren’t selling us the ideal body; they sell us a fairytale. They make us believe that if we can look a certain way, be beautiful /thin/buff enough, we can have a great life. We get so mesmerized by the possibility, by its simplicity, by the fact that its almost in our reach. What a great story teller this beauty industry is, huh? Liars.

You know what I want in life? Authenticity – in body, heart, and soul. Isn’t authenticity what we are all looking for, after all? Nobody wants knock-offs, right? So why are we chasing a knock off body? A fake story? I don't know about you, but I'd rather connect with an authentic person than one who is only physically beautiful. 

Can we, as a culture, please focus on authenticity? On accepting who we really are, who others really are? There is nothing wrong with who we really are. And if we focus on authenticity, we can give this world SO MUCH MORE than a pretty face or butt! I have my own butt. I don’t want yours.

What does it look like to authentically be you? Ask yourself: If the ads on TV, the magazine on your coffee table, the people on TV, if they weren’t what you accepted as your standard of beauty, would you see yourself as beautiful, as authentic? What can you do to reset your standards of beauty? What’s stopping you?

Let your story of becoming authentic touch the soul of another person who is killing themselves under all of the layers of untrue stories and self hate trying desperately to become that fake image. Get naked by telling them your story. All of it. Don’t hide the ugly parts (you may be the only person who actually thinks they are ugly). Let’s not starve ourselves and the next generation by proxy. Let’s not throw our money to the pigs so that the beauty industry can have a “beautiful” life.

Let’s tell a different story – a real life epic of a fake world turned authentic.



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