Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What women want—to be accepted on their own terms

We meet once a month. We are women with vastly different life experiences and in different walks of life. We have been born in four different decades. We are here to remember who we are, because it is so, so easy to forget.

This night we gather in a circle to talk about our bodies. We read from the Women Who Run With the Wolves book by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, the book that I have mentioned here more than a few times. This book is such a vital part of our lives, and the chapter we’re discussing this night talks about accepting and loving our bodies for who they are.

I don’t know if men can relate as much, but women can, to the pressure in our culture to look a certain way. The circle that “the culture” has defined for what is acceptable and beautiful is very, very small, but when you step out of that myopic view and become “far-seeing,” as Estes’ says, you nod and breathe “yes” to her observations that “to support only one kind of beauty is to be somehow unobservant of nature. There cannot be only one kind of songbird, only one kind of pine tree, only one kind of wolf. There cannot be…one kind of woman.”

We have all had the experiences of feeling like we are “too much of this, and not enough of that.” Many have been caught in the cycle of treating our bodies as slaves—slaves to the scale, the measuring tape, slaves to food, to mistreatment and demands. This robs us of our freedom, and also robs us of our creative life. How much creating can we do when we’re so preoccupied with how we look and how others perceive our worth?

Let’s see the body as a teacher, as a repository for the resilient human soul, as our constant companion, and see how it surely deserves our love and acceptance. My hope is that we can disregard the demands of the overculture to be this or to be that, and to instead be who we truly are and to enjoy these bodies that carry us through life.

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