Friday, December 28, 2007

Bare Midriff's and the Search for the Female Self

--Feature: "Living Loud w/Joy Rose"--

When I first left my marriage, I'd been pregnant for a total of five years of my life – not one of them focused on who I was evolving to be as a person. Add that to five years of illness, which landed me in survival mode and you get a decade of complete “disconnect.” I did not wake up with the realization that I had no idea who I was – I methodically “devolved” into that realization.

How do we get out of touch? We don't start out that way. We start out as gorgeous girls, popping with health and ready to conquer the world. Then we age, we let media seep in, we let dated ideas enter the picture of our identity. We change who and how we are until we don’t recognize ourselves. Heck, just turn on the Television and check out 'The Girls Next Door.' Women portrayed as utterly mindless androids with breasts bursting out “decorating” Huge Hefner’s world. How is it possible in this day and age that this would be acceptable? Let’s ask ourselves, how far have we really come – not just as women, but as a culture. How “connected” are we all in general?

There is still a strong message out there today which identifies girls, even in this post-feminist era, as brainless meat. Moms grapple with this on television, asking Dr. Phil, "I don't know what to do about my daughters belly baring midriffs. She's only 11 years old!" He tells the Mother not to worry about it, because her daughter's grades are good. But is this really the answer? And is this an acceptable answer especially coming from a man ?We need to ask ourselves why letting little girls sexually objectify themselves is acceptable at any price, or grade for that matter.

Here's the truth of the matter. A girl with solid self-esteem, will NOT use her wardrobe, or her body, to draw attention - this happens from some form of identity "starvation". She is looking for acceptance and connection and validation – none of which will be satisfied with a wardrobe adjustment. I know this, because I'm at the age where I've 'done it all' as they say. I know what it's like to put my skin on the outside of my clothes, and my esteem on a shelf in the closet where no one can find it (Least of all, me).

What's my vision you might ask? Its quite simple - kindness, awareness, love and beauty. These simple ideas are ultimately at the center not only of life as a whole, but our life individually. The presence or absence of these ideas determines weather we are connected to our selves and one another, or not. It is my belief that we must take whatever means necessary to reconnect to these basic ideas and practices in life. The best, and speediest, way to get there is by giving back.

Have your eleven year old spend a day or better yet a day every week for several months, feeding the hungry at a local shelter (let her see her own kindness), ask her to plant a garden in your yard or someplace where a garden is desperately needed (let her create beauty with her hands), have her become a big sister or volunteer at a community center (let her become aware of the plight of others and experience their love from her contribution). Self expression at its purest and powerful form is about expressing yourself in contribution to others. Let’s get away from discussion of bare midriffs, and get back to bare souls – ours and our children’s.

Anything is possible and somehow I'm sure that as the pendulum swings, it's going to graze the pillars of the Playboy Mansion. I am confidant that women will become increasingly more connected to themselves and in that more connected to the world. We need to step up our game, by getting out of the race, with each other and our selves. And most of all to realize that finding that deep connection that we search for as teenage girls or as pregnant moms, is waiting right at the edge of simple ways of living and being – to be kind, to be aware, to love, and to see beauty – as much as possible, wherever possible.

Joy Rose is a contributing columnist on The Lohasian. Her column "Living Loud With Joy Rose" explores self development ideas and tools meant to inspire and mobilize women to create an extraordinary life. Joy is the Founder and President of The Motherhood Foundation and Mamapalooza; a multi platform event, music production and entertainment development company that specializes in creating media brands to empower mothers and other women nationwide. Mamapalooza's unique message reaches an estimated five million consumers each year.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Julia - For all you and your staff do to make the planet a more enlightened place! HAPPY NEW YEAR

Lindabeekeeper said...

Good column. And if your self image is built upon a young body, what are you going to do as you age!!! It is bad when an 11year old is trying to look 18. It is also bad when 40 year old trys to look 18.