Naked and Afraid

Jennifer Lawrence.  Jill Scott.

Naked.

Privacy grossly violated.

White.  Black.

20’s.  40’s.

The conversations are vastly different.  People dare to criticize Jill Scott, which I find abhorrent.  For so many reasons.

1) We seem to have all agreed that feminine value is in physicality.  As if who you are, character, personality, perspective, accomplishment, kindness, none of that matters.  It’s the packaging.

The point of a gift is getting to the bits that are beneath the wrapping.  And we’re a society that is only interested in the wrapping paper and the shiny ribbons.  No child ever (well, maybe Fashion by Mayhem) got more excited over the paper than the stuff inside.  Just try bringing me an empty Tiffany’s box.  Pretty wrapping paper does not a good gift make.

I’ve been struggling with this a lot over the past year.  Because I’ve bought into it.  I mean, how can you not, when every message that comes in from the outside world is about thigh gaps and crows feet and women over 40 being invisible.

Look, we’re social creatures.  The people who survived were the ones that were best integrated into their societies.  We’re programmed for integrating the external messaging into our internal lives.  So yes, do we individually have the responsibility to reject bullshit messaging?  Of course.  But show me someone who can completely disregard what their society values and focuses on and I’ll show you a psychopath.  It isn’t all on the individual here.

2)  When did it become okay to be an asshole just because you can?  Bullying is universal, and the higher you fly, the more engaged a certain segment of society will be in shooting you down, but really, people.  Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.  Kindness is free, and it is never wasted.  If you can’t be nice, be silent.  It isn’t that hard.

3)  Why is it that we’re only having this conversation about the female body?  Not that men don’t feel the same pressure about their externals, but I don’t think it is to the same degree.

4) By any standard (except the thigh-gap one) Jill Scott is a beautiful woman.  And even if she didn’t have that smile, or that velvet skin, or the body of a goddess, she’d still be beautiful.  Because that’s a woman who has shown up for life, made mistakes, learned from them, and chosen to offer up the best parts of herself to the world through music.  Of all the people who want to talk about her body, what have any of you contributed to art, culture, or the comfort of people you’ve never even met?

Have the courage to build something yourself before you tear someone else down.

5)  Beauty is a social construct, and it reflects two basic functions of survival: surplus and fertility.  When only rich people could afford the calories or the leisure to carry a few extra pounds, then plump arms and full faces were beautiful.  Fertility, or the appearance of fertility, well, that doesn’t need to be explained.  The species must be propagated.  Perhaps the fertility thing can’t be changed, but there was a time when a good character was at least as valuable as good bone structure.

We could have that again.

Supply and demand, people.  The entire culture will shift to sell us what we choose to buy.  Imagine if we refused to buy magazines with people on the front who were mean?  What if assholery were as “unattractive” as crows feet or stretch marks, or five extra pounds?  We could make that happen, dollar by dollar.  Johnson and Johnson would stop selling us anxiety if we stopped buying it.

So yes, it is true that we are social creatures and we take social censure to heart.  But we are also part of the society, and we can turn that power around.

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Naked and Afraid

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