The Naked Face Project and Too Much Information, March 2

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.”

THIS lucky woman got to keep HER jacket on. No fair...

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.)

13 thoughts on “The Naked Face Project and Too Much Information, March 2

  1. Molly, the societal demand that women shave leg and axillary hair has mystified me as much as the pressure to wear makeup.
    If I had been one of those at the checkpoint, I would have given you mental props for the absence of makeup and presence of hair.
    Keep those realizations coming!

    1. I thought the embarrassment you felt at showing your ‘pits’ was ridiculous!
      I can say this because I gave up shaving my legs and ‘pits’ when I was in my early twenties (I’m now 40). I did this because I’d had a baby and because my body went through a transformation into womanhood, I was able to let go of appearance pretensions.

      I was covered in stretch marks and I had to make a choice – to suffer and feel ugly for the rest of my life or focus on what was important. So I decided being a Mum was fabulous- my body had done this amazing thing- giving birth (at home, no medical intervention). I was sustaining life with my body and shaving just somehow felt…. shallow and wrong.

      That was a long time ago, I’ve never gone back on how I felt. It was a position of strength which no outside/ negative/ popular version of womanhood could ever attack.
      Possibly over time, I’ve gained respect from both men and women for my decision. (Not to shave) Its not something I even think about any more.

      I’ve got used to the reactions of strangers, in fact, with a direct stare right back, I can usually make the other person blush if I choose to! (I’m not the one with he problem!)
      The strongest reactions often come from teenage girls who I suppose are most sensitive about appearance. By being strong and proud, I know I show them an alternative position.

      Now I know what you’re doing is brave and against the flow, but quite honestly, isn’t it also a little pathetic that its such a big deal? How weak women have become to be afraid of lifting their arms! It almost makes me want to cry. How did we ever get to this?

      I cant stand what we’ve become- obsessed with appearance! But worse than that, denigrating each other through support of the tabloid/ womens mag/ ‘beauty’ industry. We’re not even allowed to grow old any more!I wonder when will women grow a spine, refuse to put up with it. We can’t blame this on anybody else but ourselves, its a choice we’ve made. There’s no law that says women must be hairless, slim and ‘pretty’.

      The world really is on the verge of serious environmental and economic collapse…. and yet we’d rather have a leg wax?!

      I think that cosmetic surgery has got to be the most evil things ever invented- why don’t women get together and make it illegal?

      Because women as a group are too afraid, shallow, weak, embarrassed.

      I’m not. In a few years I’ll be the 65 year old you see at the supermarket with facial hair.
      Without shame.

      1. I agree…it WAS ridiculous and therein lies the irony. That I , like so many have been brainwashed to feel shame along the way…about something so simple as this.

        Girls today are consumed by their apperance…many of them suffering from severe body dysmorphia and eating disorders due to the shame they feel about their bodies…and if I, along with others including you, can find peace within our own skins…I think we can serve them in some capacity.

        I’m learning in this entire process that I need to love and care for every woman, no matter where she is in her evolution. I applaud you for moving the scale in a positive direction.

        You and I are hoping for the same things.

  2. Molly, I’m sure the Fabulous Ms L has plenty of European women who go through her line, and she would have thought nothing of the pits…but it was your first time ever showing hair other than what’s on top of your head. So I know you thought more of it than she did! (But she probably thought you were a little hard of hearing!) I do have to admit, I cracked up reading about it! Keep the words coming – I look forward to your posts very much.

  3. It’s a about time to read some about the ‘dog and pony’ show part of all of this! 🙂 Because really…. it’s an important part. Plus super hilarious. What a great and humorous way to start your day Molly. I can say that, because it’s NOT ME 🙂 Love all that you do!

  4. Molly,

    That is hysterical. I travel for work all the time and am practically half naked under my jacket sometimes – a camisole or something barely more than a bra. I hate when I have to take my darn sweater or jacket off. It’s like soft porn or something. I swear people like Mrs. L are just trying to get some kicks.

    I find that one of the reasons I do put on makeup when I see old friends is I don’t want them to think, “oh she has aged.” I have this need for people to say, “oh you look exactly the same.” and sometimes exactly the same requires some heavy lifting on the front end.

    1. Molly and Masala:

      I’m confused about this. Why would you agree to take off your jacket? I don’t go out sleeveless and I would not expect to show my upper arms in public under any circumstances. I would certainly have politely refused and if they wanted to take me somewhere in private and wand me, that would have been fine.

      In this environment of empowerment – naked face and girls on the run – I was really surprised that you just acquiesced and took off your jacket! You don’t have to take off anything that you don’t want to in public (except your shoes)!

      1. Therein lies the irony. I had on a “suit blazer”…and have always been asked to remove my coat. It is part of protocol in going through security. Jackets, blazers, even big sweaters, scarves…always must be removed or they actually won’t LET you go through the security line. And this has never been an issue for me frankly. 🙂 The interesting part of this…for me…was the revelation that I even CARED. You are right! I am an empowered woman and in this situation…oddly enough…I felt quite vulnerable.

      2. Jerry,
        You are right. I don’t know why I didn’t refuse. The TSA people scare the crap out of me while they are usually barking “laptops out please! Shoes off! All jackets must be removed!!” I am one of those people who just wants to quietly get through the line and not get any attention. Unfortunately, me in a tank top probably does get some attention as I am somewhat busty.

        You are absolutely right. I embrace empowerment in certain areas but acquiesce very meekly in others. Thanks for your insightful comment.

  5. I found you through an article that covered your Naked Face Project and I’m so glad I did! I look forward to following the rest of your journey as you traverse this thing called life. Isn’t it fascinating and frightening to discover how much of our power we have given to strangers?

  6. Now that I looked at your program and realized it was in Arizona let alone in Maricopa County where I went to school and where my mom is a school counselor I am amazed and shocked I have never heard of your program!!! Right now I am in graduate school in Massachusetts so sadly I cannot sign up to be a running partner but I will definitely spread the word to some girls I know would love the opportunity.

    P.S. I went to Conley Elem and Anderson Jr High which are not on the list 😦

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