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Hello Gorgeous!

Rumor has it that October 19th is Love Your Body Day.  (Note: I would do some fact checking before assuming opposite side of the street parking has been suspended.)  While I’m not sure that schools and banks should close, I do applaud the occasion.  From what I read, see and hear (mostly by way of eavesdropping) this day is called for.  From tweens to seniors, there is a great deal of self war being waged.  We all have an off day, but there is something tragic about hating yourself every day.

I am a woman from a western culture, I am not impervious to the internalized merciless critic.  However, a couple of adult decades under my belt has pretty much muted that little voice.  Has my body gotten better with age?  I doubt it (if so, I could probably sell myself to science!)  To be utterly reductive, I think I’ve (finally) stopped comparing myself to avatars.

As soon as I was allowed, I became a devotee of ‘Teen magazine.  I poured over that magazine, not for fashion pointers, but for role models.  Like a Talmudic scholar, I wore those pages out trying to decipher the secrets.  Coming to adolescence with the zealot belief that life would be like an MGM musical, I desperately wanted to look the part.  ‘Teen magazine promised to be the most instructive.  I was self aware enough to know that Charlie’s Angels, and even Julie, the cruise director, were out of my reach.  But perhaps the fashion models, only a few years older than I, would hold the key.  The fifteen year old me, with a thin layer of baby fat, studied those photo-spreads like nobody’s business. I also, unfortunately, compared myself mercilessly to their perceived perfection.

I still find fashion magazines potentially instructive.  I now, however, understand the wonders of lighting, styling, airbrushing and photo-shopping.  (Hopefully, today’s young teens are much more media savvy than they used to be!)  All this is to say, that the first step to honoring “Love Your Body Day” is to stop comparing it to fiction.  The second step, is to stop comparing it to others.

“Others” being a version of your younger self, or the gal sitting next to you.  As far as the ravages of gravity and/or aging go, let me be the first to point out that you are never going to be as young as you are right now.  Don’t waste another moment bemoaning the fall of your bum.  Buy better pants if necessary.  (Truly, the virtue of good undergarments can not be stressed enough.)  And about that “perfect” gal sitting across from you?  She feels fat.

No one sees our perceived imperfections, they are far too interested in their own.  Whatever our shortcomings, we’re here aren’t we?  Isn’t that everything?  Life is too short to not treat everyday like a potential MGM musical.  Now as far as those off-days?  Change your inner critic’s voice to that of Irving Berlin’s: “Never saw you look quite so pretty before.*”

* Easter Parade

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2011 in Style, Well-Being

 

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Giving Judgment a Pass

Have you ever been accused of being judgmental?  The accuser usually has flung the “judgment” handle as a reflex.  Teased apart, the accuser usually means to say; “Yikes, that hit a bit close to home.”

Calling people judgmental, and meaning it as an insult, is a new phenomenon.  The antipathy of judgment seems to have cropped up in that organic garden which has also sprouted trophies for every player and honor student bumper stickers.  Everyone is above average!  Now clearly, in our most logical moments we can all agree that to be a force for good in the world you need to have judgment.  I don’t think the casual bon mots of “don’t judge me!” “you’re so judgmental!” are really meant as the rallying cry of a movement.  No thinking person actually would posit that humans are meant to go through life NOT processing information coming into their senses.  I suspect these cries are more of the “I’m too fragile to process your opinion” ilk.

What’s stunning about this development is that it seems to have happened during the cruelest of trends in entertainment and media.  How many television and radio shows, have ridicule as their raison d’etre?  How many magazine and newspaper articles are at their core, simply picking on people.  A governor’s weight is made fun of in the news cycle!  And lo, what the internet has wrought.  Websites dedicated to the fine art of snark.  Quasi-anonymous (they need to use catchy handles, so you know whom to consider pithy) posters, take an obvious glee in simply maligning others.  They are like an uncontrolled infection, leaping from opportunity to opportunity.  Few people, excluding shock jocks and cable news pundits, would ever spew the venom they do.

We, the spectator, are not much better.  We watch, with glee; the accidents, the vulgar child-killer trials, the reality shows, the talk shows.  It is our appetite for some bastardized form of schadenfreude that drives us to “Addiction” “Intervention” “Hoarding.”  We watch these shows because they are the ultimate judgment.  “You there on the television, you are not normal.”  We have a voracious appetite for ridicule when it serves our purposes.  But when judgment is not for entertainment purposes?  Or not cruel, but instead, instructive?  That’s just too harsh.

Truth is, critique is only welcome if it is in the abstract (film, theatre, television, restaurant reviews) or about others.  But in real life?  All finger paintings are works of genius.

 
 

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