Real People Who Have Real Self-Love

Alright, friends.  I have had something tugging at my consciousness for some time now.  There was a post on The Exponent awhile ago that struck a cord with me.  I knew when I read it that I would end up writing about it, but I knew that it wasn't time yet.  The post was part of a larger whole, and when I wrote, I wanted my comments to comment on the whole, not the symptom.

I have had several discussions over the past few months centering on the idea of empowerment.  Some conversations were with people who care deeply about what others think of them, affecting their actions enormously.  It also affected their self-identity and their individual happiness.  Some conversations were with those who had little contentment with themselves – they either expressed feelings of ugliness or inadequacy in some other way.  

I have to be honest, I found myself thinking – and saying aloud – one question time and time again:  What is the real root of this problem?  After the "I love you"s, after the "You are perfect the way you are"s and after the commiseration over Ben & Jerry's, deep down I felt in my heart a call to ask them to critically examine from where these comments – these insidious thoughts – really sprung.  

In a culture of disempowerment, the negative thoughts, ideas, actions and beliefs are symptoms of a destructive cancer.  We have given away our right to empower ourselves.  For some reason, so many of us prefer to seek from others approval and worth, and worse, we base our identities therein.  In doing so, we not only give away our ability to think for ourselves, we also surrender our control over our own happiness.  

I want to clarify before I go much further that I do not see this as only a woman's issue.  Our entire culture is geared toward the debasing of those who will allow it, and men are also susceptible to standards of perfection, stereotyping and messaging geared toward pointing out flaws (physical and otherwise).  My comments here will specifically discuss examples of women, but that is only because the writings to which I will refer addressed women as their main target.  I speak here to both men and women, because I want both to embrace their divinity as children of God. 

Enter the post on The Exponent.  In her post, entitled "On Fat Acceptance," Kmillecam wrote concerning her perception of privileges given to those people who are slender and her experiences on both sides of the scale, if you will.  Just a snippet: 
Being fat in society is not easy.  Thin privilege is all around us.  If you are thin, you enjoy the privilege of eating whatever you like without anyone commenting on your portions.  You can feel happy without anyone shaming you.  You can go to the doctor without being belittled for your mass.  You don’t have to brace yourself for any dirty looks or comments when you eat food in public.  You don’t have to defend your very existence in the face of outright hatred, simply because of how you look.
When I finished reading her post, I found myself feeling as though I had somehow missed out on the "fat experience" in America.  Her observations, stated so factually, have not been my experience in the least degree.  I muddled over it.  I weighed it heavily in my heart.  And then it occurred to me – I hadn't miraculously skipped this experience, I had consciously opted out.  I had just done it so long ago that I had forgotten about it.

That was the thought that reeled me in.  We can opt out.  It isn't easy, at least not at first.  But we can.  We can say No, thank you to the culture that would have us base our identities outside of our beings.  We can say No, thank you to the culture that would have us believe our worth lives at the outskirts of the person that we are. 

Since this realization, I have to say, my life has changed.  I put up with less self-pity from those around me.  I have ceased to entertain the notion that someone can make anyone feel a certain way.  Self-perception and identity have become subject to agency, not whim or fate...or, perhaps more commonly, a set of unfortunate conditions.  On the other side of the coin, I have been able to glimpse the true love that our Heavenly Parents harbor for us.  In the absence of valuation from our culture, I found valuation from Deity.  I have loved and been loved much more deeply than I can share.

I have turned a corner, and I want to bring you all along with me.

In a recent post on Single Dad Laughing, Dan Pearce shared his perspective as a man who has found himself losing his attraction to the women who live beyond the glossy airbrushed pages of magazines and advertisements.  Some of his thoughts are not like mine, but they are valid and I wish that I could share the whole thing here.  But I'm not.  Some of his thoughts are profound and I hope that you will read them in their entirety.  Stay with him.  The terminus is worth it.

The part I found so fascinating, and without a doubt, the most poignant is when he plead with women (below, Dan uses we to refer to men, in general):
You see, we do need you to believe in yourselves. We do need you to love yourselves. We doneed you to stop comparing yourselves to super models and pin-up girls. We need you to be what women have been through all of history. We need you to be what women have always known themselves to be. We need you to go back to a time before the Internet. Before Playboy Magazine and before Marilyn Monroe. A time before Vogue or Elle. A time when far fewer women hated their bodies. We need you to go back to a time when far fewer women felt worthless.
I think that I would beg of you the same thing.  All of you, men and women, find your real selves and then feed them with real love.  You will feel closer to the person you always wanted to be, I promise you.  You will feel closer to those Creators that formed you in perfect ornateness and divinity.


Juline said...

VERY thoughtful Lauren!!!! I really like the way you came at the whole subject. In a related way, what we have done in the school system to kids has added to some of this. Even WAY back in the stone age when I went to the education school at BYU, the big push (baffling to me now that it was at BYU) was the whole "you are ok no matter what, everyone needs to feel like a winner by our telling them they are, everyone must get a participation ribbon, no one must ever struggle with anything, no red pencil corrections" etc etc. We inadvertantly, I believe, raised an entire generation of people who just thought that things should come easy for them, that college should be a breeze, that there should be a great job and a nice big house waiting at the other end because they were....well, they were just so cool. I mean everyone always TOLD them how cool they were. None of it was based on what true self esteem is based on...personal struggle, rebounding from failure and personal success. We can't GIVE someone their self esteem. Part of me wonders if we have raised a generation, if not several, who just don't know HOW to feel self love as an adult because society all the way down to Sesame Street was always so careful to hand their self esteem to them on a silver platter.

I don't know, just something *I'VE* been tossing around in my head. :-) Thanks for your great insight!!!!! Now I can add your insight to mine, toss it around, and come up with an even better view on things!

Lauren Kay said...

Thanks, Julie! I really appreciate it! (Though, it's nothing that we haven't really talked about before!)

I'm intrigued by your perspective on how this generation came to be so dependent upon others. I hadn't really put 2 and 2 together. My question is this: how do we prevent it moving forward with our own children? Are there benefits of the system as it is?

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