February 2nd: Being the Boss of My Own Brain

First of all, Caitlin and I are both grateful and overwhelmed by the attention this project is receiving.  We’ve received so many comments and emails…clearly we’ve tapped into something very deep…far deeper than what appears to be only skin deep.

Second of all…I’m discovering that having a sense of humor about this…for me is mandatory.  Today for example…I was communicating with a reporter who wants to hear more about it…and I wrote her…”Too bad we aren’t further into the project.  How enlightening would it be to film my 10th grade son’s response to a surprise visit by me and Catilin to his high school during their lunch break.  We could sport our fabulous  tank shirts and catch his reaction when my armpits  are exposed in all their glory as I wave to him and holler across the campus…”Hi son.  It’s me…your Mom!””

And the truth is…that would mortify him…not just for the armpits…raising teenagers well…that in and of itself is a whole other project…a lifetime one for sure.

Third…I’m amazed by the simplicity of the intention behind this project and how complex the responses we feel about it…can be.

This has led me to, in the last 48 hours, experience a sore brain.  I know that sounds funny, but I simply can’t stop thinking about the intracacies of this whole conversation.

I’m not suggesting that eyeliner and mascara don’t accentuate the eyes and accentuated eyes don’t, according to some research somewhere, give the apperance of a younger face….I’m just asking the really simple question of why any of this matters.  What committee decided that being youthful was more powerful? Where did that notion come from?

What committee decided that wrinkles were not attractive.  Do we see them as unattractive because we’ve been conditioned to see them that way or are they really unattractive?  And what committee decided that being attractive matters at all?

What committee kidnapped my brain and formulated what I would claim as beautiful.  I’m kinda freaking out here.  I’m a typical woman.  I consider myself intelligent enough.  I’m a mom.  I work.  I workout.  I live a very full life…and yet I’m still stuck on the ultimate question of why any of this matters? Why is being “beautiful,” as described within the context of our current social norms important?  If it’s power?  Why is being powerful important?  What kind of power is important?  Oh Geez…I just can’t stop it.

What definition or view of beauty might exist if I didn’t have one…if I just made up my own definition?  Would it even include my physicality?  Might I create a whole other series of words or language that would describe my physical being…and shift the conversation of beauty to something much richer?

The ultimate irony in all of this…is this conversation is focused on the very thing I would love to shift for myself anyway…and that’s attention to appearance/a woman’s exterior.  Oh my GOSH!!! My brain is on overload.

It has become quite clear to me that the power of this conversation…the one being stirred up by the Naked Face Project…is rooted somewhere in this revelation…that we are truly responsible for our own thoughts…including those we have around beauty, our bodies and our power.  What thoughts have been so deeply influenced by conditioning that I think they become fact?

One girl in Girls on the Run once told me that Girls on the Run taught her to be the Boss of her Own Brain.  I like that idea.  I think it applies here somehow.

I need to go for a run…yoga…or sit quietly in the sun before I combust…

Ya’ll hang in there. Keep thinking and please feel free to join in the conversation.  You can find us at www.thenakedfaceproject.com  and email us at thenakedfaceproject@gmail.com.  You can read about what’s going on with my “co-conspirator” at her blog, www.healthytippingpoint.com.

11 thoughts on “February 2nd: Being the Boss of My Own Brain

  1. I was really struck by the following lines: “What committee decided that being youthful was more powerful? Where did that notion come from?” I’m 23 and I’ve always been aware of how quickly I wanted to grow up. Being an adult seemed so much better than being a kid/teen. I guess I had somewhat of a unique situation because I never related to children my own age growing up and my friends were my parents’ friends. Now that I’m in early adulthood I’m noticing the desire to savor this time in my life a little more. I want to enjoy being single, enjoy my last semester as a college undergrad, and enjoy the freedom and opportunities that lay ahead of me. I think that the concept of youth being powerful might be attributed to the idea of potential and how that relates to youth. I’m not saying that this is the belief I adhere to, but I think it is a common thought that when you are young you have opportunities and as you age you become more entrenched in whatever path you have chosen and it becomes increasingly difficult to remove yourself from that path. Perhaps being perceived as youthful/younger is unconsciously/subconsciously related to the idea of having more doors open? Just a thought.

  2. The one ailment everyone in this universe will have is aging. you may not become arthritic, you may not get alzheimer’s. However, a universal “sickness” that everyone will go through is aging. Subconsciously we try to hold on to that youth as we move closer to where we know we will have to eventually go. I think that is why we look for beauty and define it like that. I don’t think that will ever change. Now talk to me about thin vs. fat or blue eyed vs. brown eyed and I can say you can point to specific reasons we have been socialized to look at those things that way. But I don’t know if youth will ever be undesirable. Even for those who want to embrace their age – those are people who have made peace with it in their conscious mind. I think the subconscious would always want to be moving back towards self-preservation which is youth.

    1. Yep… Now, want to hear something funny, or interesting, or odd? I never thought about aging in the way that you and others have introduced to me. I just hadn’t thought that deeply about it. I figured our fear of it it was somehow related to our sexuality/fertility…something in that realm.

      I’m just loving how this whole thing is opening my eyes to a variety of viewpoints. Thank you for taking the time to “check in.” 🙂

  3. If you look at this idea of beauty through the eyes of a young child, I think it may illuminate yet another perspective. I distinctly remember getting in trouble as a 5 year old girl because I sprayed my mom’s perfume all over my body (and probably the house, too). And what about those times in the bathroom as a young kid when you see all your mom’s beauty products and you secretly try on her lipstick, blush and eye shadow? Come on….I know I’m not the only one who did this.

    So, the question of all questions is….why? I think as young kids, we can’t wait to grow up and be like our Mom (or older sister, or grandma, or aunt). We are in awe of her power, of her strength, of her beauty. Yes, her beauty…but not the one she achieves via make-up. I’m talking about her pure, inner beauty. As kids, we see this beauty. We don’t know enough about societal expectations to understand our mom’s purpose of putting on make-up. In our eyes, she’s beautiful because she’s our mom. But the make-up lets us feel as though we can be like her. After all, her dress shoes were too big, but her make-up…we can do that.

    And then as we continue to grow, our concept of “beauty” begins to change and we gain a deeper understanding of societal pressures and what it means to be beautiful. To be powerful. As a teenager, make-up becomes an avenue to look more powerful, to attract others, to look older. Make-up no longer symbolizes pure beauty (as it did in the eyes of our younger self), make-up now symbolizes a desire to be someone more than we are. We want to be older to be more respected, we want to be prettier to attract the handsome guy, we want to appear full of energy to hide our late night studying.

    I am a 27 year old PhD student; yet I am still asked which local high school I attend. That is, I look very young. Although I rarely wear make-up, the only times I do wear make-up are when I have a desire to look older so as to gain respect. It’s sometimes difficult to teach a statistics class to doctors who are 20 years older than me because I don’t “look” like I am old enough to know what I am talking about. I struggle to get their respect. Yet, when I put on make-up, high (er) heels and professional clothes, somehow I now fit the part. I’m respected. Nothing about my qualifications to teach the course have changed — I just look different. Double Ugh!

    Fast forward 25 years to where some of you are right now. I can’t speak much about this because I’m not there, yet. But I think you all are using make-up for yet another reason. To look younger, to look more put-together. Yet, I still think you are doing it to gain respect, or to be accepted. To….well, you’ll figure out why.

    I would love to get back to those 5-yr-old days where everyone is wonderful and beautiful just because they are themselves. We can learn a lot from the innocence of children. But I think we must first look inside ourselves — and be comfortable with who we are, just as we are. Accepting our strengths as well as our flaws. After all, it’s the whole package which makes an individual beautiful.

  4. First, I have to say that I *love* the idea of the Naked Face Project. I’ve thought a lot about some of the issues that you raise in this post, and I’d like to share my perspective in case it might be useful.

    I actually think there is a deceptively simple answer to the question of “What committee decided that being youthful was more powerful? Where did that notion come from?” If you think of the way that this is rooted in biology, it makes more sense. In the animal kingdom, younger animals are better able to survive because they are stronger and can run faster to get away from predictors. Older animals who are unable to keep up are often left to fend for themselves. It’s ruthless, but it is based on the premise of “survival of the fittest.” Through evolution, we have inherited a similar perspective. Younger people are seen as more powerful, and power is “good” because it means that they are strong and most fit. Being strong and fit is desirable because it offers the best opportunity for survival, and we all have a natural instinct to survive.

    Now, please know that I do not necessarily agree with this perspective on a personal level, but my point is that the connection between youth, beauty, and power is one that is deeply rooted in our collective past. I would even go so far as to say that this is unlikely to change, because let’s face it: In terms of physical strength, younger equals stronger. The part that is missing here, in my opinion, is that older can also equal wiser, and wisdom can be more useful than youthful strength. We still need to work on this one! 🙂

  5. Your one of those creative brilliant people and the power you have over others IS IMPORTANT. I don’t mean you completely control others but your writing has power over every brain that interprets it. Your power matters because it makes people feel beautiful. I hope you get a chance to read this ;D

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