So first of all, this project has brought a number of new readers to my blog and my life. I had no idea when I started this what the “blogosphere” was like. But I can tell you…those of you who don’t know me…I’m about as non-judgmental as they come. Someone yesterday, very honestly shared with me that something about this whole project made her mad….and in her words, “Mad at YOU, Molly.” (I actually heard this twice yesterday…mmm very interesting. :))
I appreciated her comments more than she will ever know. I love her honesty…and although sometimes the little girl in me, who still wants so much to be liked by everyone feels the hit of that comment, what ended up happening was quite beautiful. We launched into what made her feel angry about the project and eventually meandered our way over to the notion that beauty, at least in the world “out there,” correlates with power and she was literally terrified of losing that power. I mean…this woman had literally built an entire life and body around it.
I “get” it. I really do…and honestly I still don’t know how all of this will shake out when we are done. I’m fairly certain I won’t go au naturelle ALL the time, but I do at least know that I will be very thoughtful with how I present myself, my body to the world. I will be intentional with the actions I take in its regard. (I’m even noticing a change in eating habits…more intention there too, but I’ll save that for a later date.) So again, let me reiterate, there is no-agenda-pushing in this project. It is simply an invitation to all of us, should we wish to accept it…to go inward with ourselves and examine the intentions behind why we do some of the things we do, particularly as they relate to beauty, power, our bodies and our appearance.
Alright…so when Caitlin and I started this thing, we also made a pact that it would not be some kind of dog and pony show…a photologue of our growing hair, clothing mishaps or other highly personal physical changes we were sure to experience. I mean…come on…you know…just some things are off limits.
But seriously…something happened this past weekend in the security gate at the airport…that has me laughing OUTLOUD at myself and also slams home the point that peer pressure…when it comes to our bodies is very alive and well, for adults as much as it is for kids.
I was approaching the security gate, gathering up my driver’s license, boarding pass, taking off shoes, belts, watches and placing them into the bin, when the security “lady” (we will now call her the fabulous Ms. L) kindly asks me to remove my jacket.
“What?” I said trying very hard to pretend that I hadn’t heard her or understood what she said.
“Your jacket, maam. You will need to put that in the bin with your other items.”
“What? This jacket?” I nonchalantly motion to the one and only jacket anywhere near my person. “This one? This one here?”
The fabulous Ms L. seems amused and begins to smile. “Yes maam. That one.”
Well, as you would guess, moments before when she first asked I realized that this morning I had put on a tank top…yes…it was warm and yes I wanted to be comfortable and so the tank top was the available option. What I had forgotten about was this silly little thing called under arm hair…that I hadn’t experienced since I was 13 and that was now growing its own fabulous little garden beneath my underarms. (Okay…I’m sorry…yes…I know dog and pony show is bad and so is this visual, but I promise I’m going somewhere with this. If you are laughing at me…that’s totally cool…and if you are grimacing…that’s also totally cool. I’m doing both as I write.)
I pull the jacket off, place it in the bin, move my items up to the conveyor belt and step to the transition gate where I can just walk through.
The fabulous Ms. L now speaks up again. “Maam, we need you to go through THIS gate.” She motions to the new gates where you straddle over two foot-silhouette images and lift your arms and put your hands together in a trianglar motion over the top of your head.
Again, I attempt the nonchalant-I’m-not-sure-I-heard-you-correctly-tone. “What? This one? This one over here?” I motion in the direction of the very one of which she speaks, with my head…heaven forbid I motion with my arms.
The Fabulous Ms. L is beginning to get irritated with me. “Yes Maam. This one.” She is not smiling.
So…I step into the designated area, place my feet on the footprints on the floor and hold my arms an inch or so from the sides of my body.
“Maam…you’ll need to lift your arms a little bit higher.”
“What? These arms? These arms right here? (I’m thinking this now…terrified to bring anymore attention to these arms of mine.)
I reluctantly lift them a tad higher.
“Higher, maam. They need to be over your head.”
I lift again…a tad.
“Maam, they need to be over your head. Your hands need to be touching above your head. Do I need to asssist you?
I sighed…took a deep breath and lifted…high into the sky…these arms of mine…revealing in all their glory the small crops now taking root there in the valley of my armpits.
I started laughing out loud and literally laughed all the way until I had gathered my items, put my shoes back on and positioned the jacket back on its cover-up mission. This was not a ha-ha funny laugh. This was a “OMG I’m so embarrassed laugh.”
Dog and pony show, but the reality of this struck a cord with me.
I stand up in front of literally hundreds of people to tell my life story and the story of founding Girls on the Run. I parent two teenaged children and constantly encourage them to stay strong amidst the negative elements that may show up in conformed teenage behavior. I have entered an open water swim with thousands of other people to participate in a triathlon…birthed two babies…the list could go on and on…but I am still concerned with what the Fabulous Ms L thinks of me.
I don’t know the Fabulous Ms. L. I will probably never see her again…and yet I was uncomfortable and completely humored by the fact that I was THAT uncomfortable to reveal “the pits.”
So I get it. I get it in a big way. It’s just the varying degrees of comfort that keep us entrenched in these social norms…and the varying degrees of risk that give us the freedom to go outside of them.
It’s different for everyone. I do know that I’m discovering an entirely different context for where my personal power comes from. I’m not suggesting that my context is right for everyone, but what I love, love LOVE about this process is I’m discovering what context is right for me…so that I can live my life entirely engaged, mind, body, spirit…as one.
By the way…if you missed this video…check it out. Please note…long-sleeved shirt. 🙂
Can you think of a time you were amused by something your body said about you or that you THOUGHT said about you? (Please keep your comments to PG-13…there are a number of young girls who check in every once in a while.)