This isn’t a post specific to performing or the arts, but one that I think is relevant and important for us all to not only keep in mind but also to spread around like wildfire (but a good wildfire.)
I was at Target tonight with my grandmother. She was telling me how her age spots made her feel embarrassed and insecure. “You know, grandma… we are our own worst critics. We all have things about ourselves that we don’t like, and we fixate on them when we look in the mirror. But you know, most people out there don’t notice them at all, and if they do, they don’t care! And if they do care, well then screw em. You are beautiful, people tell me that about you all the time.” She replied, “Thank you, mija, I don’t feel that way.”
We were in the cosmetics department and I passed a blown up picture of a model. “Look, grandma. THIS is not real. She is probably a beautiful girl, but this is photo shopped. No one looks like that, it’s just an unattainable ideal and I’m ashamed that we allow ourselves to buy into it and to teach and pressure our children that this is what they have to live up to.”
“There are a couple of photo series out there right now that feature photoshop jobs (before and after) on models and celebrities. It’s insane what they do to them. Even women who are thin and beautiful undergo dramatic changes. The naturally thin become withering waifs with anatomically incorrect hips and ribs. It’s upsetting and its not fair.”
A woman nearby overhead me on my soap box. “Excuse me, but I just haven’t heard anyone talk like that since I was in college, and it’s just really refreshing to hear, wow. No one talks like that!” I went on to have a conversation with this woman, about how it’s so easy to get sucked in, but what a disgrace it was to be allowing our daughters to inherit this insanity. “Wow,” she said, “I really needed to hear that today.”
Later on, on my way to the check out counter, I ran into her again. She confided in me that the reason she was at Target tonight was to fix a fumbled dye job that she had done on herself. She then revealed some personal things to me, including a dramatic weight gain after an injury killed her sports career in college. As of today, she lost 150 of the 200 pounds that she’d gained, and ditched an awful relationship. She was on her way, but still found many days a struggle. “I used to be positive like you, but at some point I just got really depressed and that all went away.”
“Oh, I hear you,” I told her. “Even I have my days: ‘I’LL NEVER BE GOOD ENOUGH! HOW CAN I DIG MYSELF OUT OF THIS HOLE, IT’S IMPOSSIBLE! I’M JUST NOT ENOUGH!’ Yeah, I know those days. But allow yourself to have that day. And then tomorrow, get over it and do something better.”
“I’ve found, keeping a simple mantra makes it easier to overcome those voices of doubt. ‘Fake It Till You Make It’ or ‘Just Do It’ are favorites of mine.”
She looked like she was going to cry, which made me want to cry. We hugged it out, and went our separate ways. I left Target feeling like I’d changed someone’s life, even just slightly. I don’t want to preach about changing the world, or getting people to buy into your ideas or politics or religion, but I think we can all agree that spreading EMPOWERMENT to ourselves and those around us has no agenda and would make us all better.
This past week I was looking for TV sitcom scenes for the a Teens Acting Class I teach. Now my parameters were fairly narrow, as I have all girls, all teens, and needed comedic sitcom style. However, I was SHOCKED to find how many sitcoms, even those with a strong female lead, failed to pass the Bechdel test (1. It has to have at least two women in it, 2. who talk to each other, 3. about something besides a man). Most shows that I found featured scenes that were boy and boy, boy and girl, boy and parent, girl and parent. I WAS able to find enough scenes, and only ONE of them was about a boy issue, so I’d say it was a successful hunt over all. But I was still very disturbed by how difficult it was to find even the few that I did.
The time is now, ladies. We need to stop tearing each other apart and competing with each other, and instead LIFT each other up and CELEBRATE ourselves as unique, beautiful, smart, powerful people, each with something different and wonderful to contribute!
Be empowered. Don’t hold back.
Some empowering tunes:
Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves
Check out this confident woman who doesn’t give a shit: