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Love your Body Movement

Taryn Brumfitt is on a mission to convince every woman to love her body as it is, to stop buying into corporate messages about beauty, and to change the vocabulary listed above for good. She plans to do so by creating a documentary called “EMBRACE,” that will explore why body loathing is so commonplace and what we can do to change that reality.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/14/embrace-taryn-brumfitt_n_5318178.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

Bullying the Beauty out of You.

Although Americans sometimes dismiss bullying in school as a childhood rite of passage, this form of aggression may have long-lasting psychological ramifications for victims as well as for bullies, reports the September 2009 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter.

There has been a lot of focus on bullying in the past several years and the impact it has on people, especially teenagers. Bullying is a common experience for many children and adolescents.  Surveys indicate that as many as half of all children are bullied at some time during their school years, and at least 10% are bullied on a regular basis.

Bullying behavior can be physical or verbal. Boys tend to use physical intimidation or threats, regardless of the gender of their victims.  Bullying by girls is more often verbal, usually with another girl as the target. Bullying has even been reported in online chat rooms, through e-mail and on social networking sites.  Social media has made it easier for bullies to continue bullying outside of school.

Children who are bullied experience real suffering that can interfere with their social and emotional development, as well as their school performance. Some victims of bullying have even attempted suicide rather than continue to endure such harassment and punishment.  The rise in suicide has brought this issue into the forefront.

Bullying is aggressive behavior that is intentional and that involves an imbalance of power or strength. Bullying can take many forms, such as hitting, kicking, threatening another, teasing, name calling, excluding from a group, or sending mean notes or e-mails. Often, children are bullied not just once or twice but over and over (Olweus, 1993; Roland, 1989; Smith & Sharp, 1994).

A conversation with my daughter and a program on MPR about bullying came together while I was driving to active a memory in me.  I was aware of this memory but had never put the label of bullying on it until after the conversation and during the radio program.  When I was a teenager I had a very bad completion, that was very embarrassing for me. I just wanted to hide my face.  I grew bangs to cover up the pimples on my forehead and kept my head down so I wouldn’t be seen.   To make matters worse it was also one the issue that my brother’s like to tease me about.  I was given the name “Zit Face”.  I was often called that name by my three brothers and it was written on the walls in our hallway.  It was humiliating for me.

I remember my brothers following me home from school and calling me “Zit Face”.  The worse incident I remember was coming home one day and a few houses from my house my brothers and about 5 of their male friends were waiting for me.  As I approached a chorus of adolescent voices sang out ” Zit Face” over and over as I ran past them and in to my house.  When I told my mother about what had happened she told me I was too sensitive and that I should just let it runs off of back.  She didn’t realize that her response reinforced my humiliation.  It is one thing to experience bullying and another not to get support to deal with it.

Bullying Causes Long-Term Emotional Damage

Studies show that the experience of being bullied can end up causing lasting damage to victims. If I think about it I am still impacted by the experience several ways.  I know from personal experience that bullying can drain the beauty out of you.  As a teenage girl, just starting to be interested in the opposite sex I internalized feelings of not being beautiful and questioned if boys would like me. I am sure that on an unconscious level this still impacts me today.  Words and gestures can cause more harm than physical assault, especially damage that is sustained during the formative childhood years when our concept of your self is being created.  Bullying causes damage to their self-concepts; to their identities.  Being the repetitive target of bullying damages your ability to view yourself as a desirable, capable and effective individual.

It would be great if the average person was possessed of unshakable self-confidence, but this just isn’t how identity works. Identity is a social process, that is developed when we are children based on how other people interact with us. Confidence is based on experiences of success.  Bullying teaches people that they are explicitly not part of groups; that they are outcasts and outsiders. It is hard to doubt the reality of being an outcast and an outsider when you have been beaten or otherwise publicly humiliated.  I was taught at a formidable developmental stage that I was not attractive and undesirable.  My brothers reinforced this by telling me I was ugly.

I am so happy that this issue is getting more attention and adults in school and at home are beginning to put things in place to stop bullying.  I know now that I wasn’t “too sensitive” but that I was reacting to the sting of abuse.  Adults have a responsibility to their daughters and sons to protect them from this behavior and help them develop a healthy self concept.  Don’t let anyone bully the beauty out of your precious children.

There are a lot of resources available to parents to help them understand what bullying is and the impact of bullying on children, as well as ways to support children who are being bullied.

http://www.stopbullying.gov/

http://www.pacer.org/bullying/resources/

Ellen DeGeneres has a long list of resources http://ellen.warnerbros.com/2010/10/resources_to_help_stop_bullying_0930.php

 

Re-Wilding our Imaginations Will Enhance Our Beauty!

“What if the way out can be much sexier than buying things or changing legislation? What if it is more fun, and more colorful? What if the way out has to do with “re-wilding” our imaginations, undomesticating our lives, and reclaiming not only our rights but also our health?”  Malia Burkhart

When I read Malia’s blog post about the 99 or One and the occupy movement it struck a chord with me.  I especially like the concept of re-wilding our imaginations, undomesticating our lives and reclaiming our rights and our health. First of all I like the made up words because they go against domestication and move toward reclaiming our wildness.   This reminds me of the Wild Woman movement started by  Clarissa Pinkola Estes and her book “Women who Run With Wolves” in the early 1990’s and how that stirred me at the time.  I was even part of a Wild Women artist group and we did a lot of wild and crazy things together.

This quote from the book brings up wonderful images of what that might begin to look like:

“Within in every woman there is a wild and natural creature, a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing.  Her name is Wild Woman, but she is an endangered species.  Though the gifts of the wildish nature come to us at birth, society’s attempt to “civilize” us into rigid roles has plundered the treasure, and muffled the deep, life-giving messages of our own souls.  Without Wild Women, we become over-domesticated, fearful, uncreative and trapped.

“To adjoin the instinctual nature does not mean to come undone, change everything from left to right, from black to white, to move the east to west, to act crazy or out of control. It does not mean to lose one’s primary socializations, or to become less human. It means quite the opposite. The wild nature has a vast integrity to it”

“La Loba (Wolf Woman), the old one, the One Who Knows, is within us. She thrives in the deepest soul-psyche of women, the ancient and vital Wild Woman. She describes her home as that place in time where the spirit of women and the spirit of wolf meet the place where her mind and her instincts mingle, where a woman’s deep life funds her mundane life. It is the point where the I and the Thou kiss, the place where women run with the wolves”

I believe the same is true for men.  We have been domesticate yet that doesn’t mean that domestication has to be our primary mode of operation.   Domestication has little to do with our authentic wild self and a lot to do with conformity and fitting in.  It has little to do with what our heart and soul desires and more about being enslaved.

“Nature and human beings are not separate. You can be sure that when the land and creatures are wounded by humans, that those humans are copying their own psychic wounds into the earth and animals as well; what is wounded and without thought, wounds others…”

~From essay “Massacre of the Dreamers, in “Untie The Strong Woman book” by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

In one of my favorite children’s books, Maurice Sendak  tells the story of Max, who one evening plays around his home making “mischief” in a wolf costume.  As punishment, his mother sends him to bed without supper. That is how we were all domesticated, we were punished for doing things that didn’t fit the status quo.  In his room, a mysterious, wild forest and sea grows out of his imagination, and Max sails to the land of the Wild Things. The Wild Things are fearsome-looking monsters, but Max proves to be the fiercest,conquering them by “staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once”, and he is made “the king of all wild things”, dancing with the monsters in a “wild rumpus”.

Social programming has left us over-domesticated, fearful, uncreative and trapped.   We have projected our own wounds on how we treat nature and the earth.  I think that is what we are witnessing right now, right along side of a movement around the world of people banding together to break free of it.  Estes Pinkola and Sendak were planting seeds toward this movement and now those seeds are blossoming.  I think we have reached momentum and that is what we are watching now in the freedom movements across the globe.  People are so tired of feeling fearful, uncreative and trapped that they are willing to give their lives to change things.

This piggy-backs so well on my current writing about embracing our authentic selves and the beauty of “weirdness”.  We have been away from our wildish nature too long as slaves to domestication and social programming. Our wild nature is a great part of our beauty. Without it we are not authentic and we are hiding parts of ourselves.  It is exciting to watch people waking up and begin to explore the wild and natural creature that they are.

This is not an easy process because it means questioning all the things we were taught as children.  It means letting go of judgment, self censorship and comparing. It means moving toward acceptance of self and others, of saying what is on our minds and not worrying about what others think and not comparing ourselves to each other in order to fit in and feel accepted because that is where the creative juice and genius is.  That is the edge of the norm and the beginning of new territory.  That is where the gate to the playground is.  From that place we can burst forth a new world and our life, our health and our soul depends on it.  If we lived from that place there would be no need for Occupy Movements.

Doesn’t that sound more colorful and sexy than what we have been doing for way too long?  I think it would be beautiful to see everyone unleash their wild nature and be themselves!

Let’s all get WILD in the good sense!  What do you think?

Here is my favorite photo of myself hanging out with wild things…

Velveteen Rabbit Beauty

The “cool dude” pictured above is my version of the Velveteen Rabbit.  I named him “Sunny” because he always wears his fabulous sun glasses, (because they are sewed to his head) and he has an awesome disposition. I imagine he was cool when he was new, but he is super cool now.  He is a homemade rabbit and I bet some little old lady made him for her grandson or granddaughter.  I bet he looked awesome in his bright red pants and his red, unscratched sunglasses and I bet his brown plush fur was amazing, but back than he hadn’t become real yet.

I bought him at an antique shop years ago and he was already old.  That is what I like about him. I know for sure he was loved before I got him and he has sure been loved since he moved in with me.  He is old, dusty, not so cuddly and his red overalls are now pink, so they almost match his pink sunglasses, which probably use to be red too. He doesn’t seem to mind that his pants and glasses are pink.  His fur is worn out in some places and his yarn features are wearing away, but you can still see his smile.  Sunny is Real!  He is the best Sunny I know, because he is his authentic self.

The Velveteen Rabbit Realness

Most of us read the Velveteen Rabbit when we were children.  It is the story of a little toy stuffed rabbit who dreams of becoming “real”.  The Velveteen Rabbit gets advice from the Old Skin Horse who’d lived in the nursery longer than any of the other animals. He was the resident old soul and he was wise and kind. The Velveteen Rabbit longed to become real and it was the wizened old Skin Horse that had the answers.

The Skin Horse told Rabbit, “Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”   I love that!  You are only ugly to people who don’t know you and who don’t understand you.

Beauty – true beauty – is about being real. It’s about becoming the real person that you were intended to be, which is really a challenge when most of society trains us to conform.  We are told that to fit in and be loved we must be like other people.  The silly thing about that is that each of us is unique and no one can be like us.  No one can do the special things we came to do.  No one looks like us, has our personality or our special gifts.  To think we could all be the same is like comparing apples to oranges.

The Pulse of Beauty

The pulse of beauty has always come from Hollywood or Paris through models who work 10-12 hours a day to maintain the way they look. Many of them suffer from eating disorders because the weight standards are so low.  With modern technology they can be touched up through Photoshop before they even hit the magazines they are featured in.   The Hollywood version of beauty is not real, it is manipulated and so are we if we buy into it.

The fashion world creates trends, and we are led to believe that we need to keep up with the current fashions.  When I was in high school if you weren’t wearing the current fashion trend you were not considered cool.  I know it is still that way and Abercrombie and Fitch, Tommy Hilfiger and Vera Wang seem to know what we would all look good in.  What if I want to wear faded pink overalls and scratched pink sunglasses, like Sunny does, will that make me look less beautiful?  I know for sure that I would have been laughed at back in High School because that is where conformity really took it’s roots.

Becoming Real

It’s just as Margery Williams said in The Velveteen Rabbit. “Real isn’t how you are made,” the skin horse told the Velveteen Rabbit in this meaningful story. Rather, “it’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”  Real isn’t how we look or what we wear.  Life makes us more beautiful because of our life experiences, which push us to become more authentic.  Life makes our pants fade, scratches our sunglasses and wears off our fur and in the process we become more beautiful.

I have learned that beauty is truly about “being real,”, which means being the best you that you can be.  When you hold back and don’t shine your true self, others miss out on something that is very precious.   To me, choosing to be present and open and living from your heart is being real and just like the Velveteen Rabbit, understanding that only loving and believing in yourself can make you real

True beauty has so very little to do with what you look like, but everything to do with what you radiate from within.

What would happen if we all stopped paying attention to the Hollywood and Paris status quo?  What if we dressed to suit our hearts desire and let our soul speak out.  What if we embraced our uniqueness and lived authentic lives? What if we didn’t cover up and hide who we are to fit in?  What if we didn’t care what people thought about us?  What if we said what we meant and meant what we said? What would the world look like if we were all Real? I think that is the way things are heading and I can wait to watch what happens.