Friday, May 27, 2016

My Beauty Hopes

So I came across this photo on the Facebook page of Healthy is the New Skinny 

I shared this response that I'd like to just post here so I can come back to it over and over again whenever I'm feeling ugly. Sorry for the weird formatting, I'm getting back into the saddle and for some reason it doesn't want to justify LEFT!!!!

"This is so true, I know it and at times I feel it, and I would wholeheartedly tell anyone that they are beautiful even those they are outside the beauty standard and be 100% genuine.

But for myself, it is a constant struggle to internalize the feeling that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and most importantly from within. There will be glimpses when I look at myself and for a split second see a beautiful women and then all the programming takes over and then the "if only I could lose..." "If I didn't have these wrinkles..." "I wish my hair..."

I could have whatever creating force is out there tell me that I am the ideal definition of beauty and I'd still say "but I'd be better looking if I lost a few pounds right?" 

How sad is that, that despite being a strong minded vibrant woman who would gladly eviscerate any argument that women outside the media's image aren't attractive, on behalf of all women and men, that I cannot apply that to myself. How deep the message has gone that even with all my strength and stubbornness and wisdom I cannot still see my body as a soft curvy reminder of a life well lived, overcoming struggle and still supple enough to bend. That I cannot see these lines for every reflective moment, brilliant thought, survived trauma or wonderful bliss. That I cannot see these grey hairs for the sparkly reminder that I am getting older but I am still here, with purpose and with people who are on this journey with me. 

I promise myself over and over again that "no more!" I will not succumb to the evil poison the media has fed me. If I can see the beauty in women who are fat, thin, old, young, hairy, bald, with long legs or none at all, curly or straight hair, and every skin shade imaginable, I should be able to see it in myself. It lasts for a little bit, but like smoke, those evil messages seep through the cracks in my armor and I find myself staring at the mirror poking myself, smoothing out imperfections, wondering when my beauty will fade so dramatically that I won't be worthy of love anymore.

This is what these messages have done to me, and it is a constant fight to overcome them daily and feel confident enough to dress in anything other than baggy clothes or to go out without makeup or without my hair perfectly done. It's like an illness I have to fight daily in order to be whole with myself again so that I can focus on the task at hand, my friends and family,! 

I hope someday some wisdom untapped will finally kick in and kick out all those negative messages. To be able to look at myself and reflect on what I have done, rather than focus on what "society" deems as imperfection. I want to be that crone who is wise, proud, wrinkled and beautiful someday and just know it and share it and hopefully inspire someone like me who still has some much beauty left untapped."

To the Fathers of my Son's Future Partners...Don't threaten my boys

My oldest is ten years old now, so this is creeping up on me. He told me a while back he had a crush on a girl and while I did all my squealing and my son promptly left the room, I started to think about romance when you're young. I remembered the delirious highs and the soul crushing lows and started to worry about his little heart being broken and I get it, I get the instinct to protect one's young from harm. Believe me, I'm a Mamabear and proud of it, but there are some harms he is going to have to face that I cannot protect him from.
Your fear as a father protecting your young goes beyond a broken heart, I get that too. Totally. I am all over the rape culture society has and the dangers for women, particularly in intimate relationship. I have a diploma to prove it. I fear for the young women I work with when they talk about stupid things their partners say or feel entitled to. I want to somehow magically transplant at least some of the wisdom and entitlement I have as a woman to be safe in an intimate relationship. But as a worker, I can only do much and I try very hard to make sure that even from my position, they have the knowledge to be safe.
Pretty shitty world we live in when we feel like we have to do that to keep our girls safe. I won't deny the nature of society and that it leads to a belief that men are entitled to women's bodies. However I don't believe all men are stupid enough to think this way. Are teenage boys flowing with hormones? Most likely in most cases. Does this lead towards sexual activity? It can, because girls and women have hormones too. Does this lead to girls and women being raped? No.
Sexual activity and rape are two different things. Lets get rape out of the way. My boys are not being raised to think that "boys will be boys" is okay. They are not being raised to think that the best way to get a girl's attention is to be mean to her or call her names, or pull her bra straps. They are not being raised where it is acceptable to resort to physical violence.They are not being raised where it is acceptable to ridicule or berate or make someone feel unsafe mentally or emotionally. They are not being raised where they will not being accountable for their actions. All of this starts at home, in a loving environment where everyone is respected, even children. Does this mean they are undisciplined? Oh god no, I'm a pretty strict parent when it comes to behaviour expectations, and it shows. But I'm also a loving mom who basically believes in the golden rule. I'm happy to report so far, other than incessant squabbling between them, it seems to be working.
Oh, in case it wasn't clear, I'm a feminist too. If you're rolling your eyes, I'm confused because who better to raise respectful men, and don't you want that for your daughter?
So let me tell you something, if I caught any of my boys acting like a misogynistic, entitled brats, the wrath of Mom is almost as scary as the wrath of Mamabear. So with that being said, don't threaten my boys if they are dating your daughter. Seriously, don't. My boys aren't going to rape your daughter, and you are fully encouraged to respectfully interrogate them (I'll be doing the same, don't worry), through that you will (hopefully) understand that they aren't going to bring that kind of harm to your daughter.
Will they break her heart? Maybe, maybe she will break their hearts. I will be working tirelessly to make sure that while relationships may not work out, they still need to be respectful and compassionate. Essentially, I'm trying to teach my boys not to cheat or be mean when ending a relationship. I truly hope you are doing the same thing.
Will they have sex...I know, you're shuddering, so am I, believe me, they're my babies. But I'm also realistic and that is a possibility. As such, I will be teaching them the importance of doing so in a respectful, compassionate and most important consensual manner.
If you are inclined to threaten my boys because of this, I've got news for you, you do not own your daughter's body and that is exactly the kind of attitude that feeds into rape culture. So as a woman, as a counsellor for abused women, as a child and youth worker, stop, and challenge your own thinking about that. You are no more entitled to have say what she does with her body than anybody else. As a Mamabear, just don't, because you are crossing a line that you would not be okay with if I threatened harm on your daughter, so you show the same amount of respect and we should get on fine. Don't assume the worst right off the bat and start what could be a positive relationship with the threat of violence.
Dear fathers, I truly, deeply understand the urge to protect your young. You have invested a lot of time instilling values, raising them well, loving them and hopefully passing on some wisdom, I've done the same. You will be able to tell this by sitting down with my kids for 15 minutes and talking to them. So what I ask is that you respect my kid, respect your kid, respect that you've done your job and respect that I'm doing my job and we should all get on fine.

On Being Controversial

To look at me, you'll see a pretty friendly looking, mother of three great kids, student and happy go lucky person. I have a nice house on a quiet suburban street, I have a great partner, lots of friends, nice family, pets, a flower garden. Additionally, a strong student (so long as there is no math involved), will go out of my way to help others, will pick up a $20 bill at a sports arena and find it's owner instead of putting it towards overpriced concessions, overall a nice person. You wouldn't be wrong, but I'm also a bisexual woman who has mixed ancestry of black, native and white. I'm also a feminist...and a socialist, I'm divorced (I don't hate men, I quite like the smart ones) somewhere in between "regular sized" and "plus sized", I have funky hair and a big mouth.
This puts me in an awkward position as a Canadian woman. Canadians in general do not like to talk about racism, sexism, Islamophobia, transphobia...well basically that doesn't paint us in the rosy light where we accept everyone and no one is racist, we are so beyond that! We have multiculturalism in our constitution and we were part of the Underground Railroad *chest all puffy*. White Canadians especially do not want to talk about these topics because they are uncomfortable for them a lot of the time. I can get it to a degree. I have no disability, I am cisgender, I am light skinned and have "good hair" and there have been times I've been asked to examine my privilege or make changes that feel different to me or that I was inadvertently being oppressive, it's not a good place, however sometimes shit just has to be said.
I have white friends and family and as I've become more vocal in examining race and racism in a Canadian context, my Facebook friends list has been decreasing in numbers as far as those white friends and family are concerned. Or they write to me "Why do you have to be so controversial?" or "Why are you so angry??" They wield angry around like it's supposed to be a kill switch "maybe if I call her angry, she'll stop" after all, who wants to be the angry sensitive person of colour. But the fact of the matter is, I am angry, I have this overwhelming urge right now as a Canadian to apologize for this, but no, it's okay to be angry.
Things are not okay. Things are in bad shape even in this day and age. Even in Canada.
We have police forces who routinely target black males for carding, they also routinely target Indigenous males for harassment. They won't release race based statistics on who they are arresting, or killing and that makes me wonder why.
We have people living in reservations with no clean drinking water, for reals. Come on, really? It's not like we have a lack of water. The government has no money to provide proper infrastructure? Or they have no say when an industry decides to pollute the water upstream?
We have children who are targeted by security agencies whilst flying as terrorists. Someone told me it was the price we had to pay for freedom. I don't know about other people, but I don't consider screening six year old children freedom, nor do I feel safer in the air.
I can go on for decades, hence the point of this blog, so I have to pace myself.
Oh Joy, but it's not all white people. You would be right. It's not. I have plenty of friends who are there fighting the good fight, some expected as they are deep into social justice, there are those who are simply going through life, look at a crappy situation and say that's not cool and then there are those who insist the status quo is just skippy. But here is the deal, you don't have to actively be holding a burning cross or making caricatures to be participating in this awful system. When you dismiss someone as too angry, when you say "pulling the race card", when you justify shitty race based experiences that people of colour are talking about, when you railroad that discussion by saying "not all white people, I'm not like that", you aren't helping any. Because what you really want to say is "not me!!!" and by jumping into that discussion and saying "not me!" you are trying to change an important discourse and make it about your feelings, not cool. And what really pisses me off is the entitlement behind that.
So friends, family, Canada, I'm sorry (no I'm not, just trying to be Canadian) I'm angry about this. I'm still the same person, however this is a topic near and dear to me because it's my very identity and that of many people whom I love, and we are being targeted because of it. You may see things you disagree with and by all means, engage me, I'll be civil, but I will be passionate, and I'm asking you to suck it up if you do. I'm going to break free from the non-controversial mode and start pushing these topics, they need to be pushed and I'm not afraid of being labeled angry or sensitive or playing the race card because those are pretty pathetic ways to shut me up and if you ask my mother, there is no shutting me up, I personally blame her parenting for that problem.
I've noticed we are entering a new era where people are connecting on these issues and forcing these topics to the table and by golly, I want to help, so fair warning, welcome to my blog, beware of controversy.