Wednesday, September 28, 2011

There Has to Be More to Life

picture from a card
This morning on my way into work, I began talking to a coworker/friend who has a daughter in the 4th grade. She shared with me that the daughter was having a meltdown this morning over what to wear to school. She was crying and "hormonal" (yes - girls as young as 9 and 10 are getting their periods now because of, probably, the unecessary growth hormones we add to milk and other foods) and claiming that none of the clothes that fit her last week fit her today. My friend shared with me that the new trend for "skinny jeans" and "skinny pants" leave her daughter feeling fat and too big. This story broke my heart. And it makes me want to scream at whoever pronounced skinny jeans as the new trend. At age 9, instead of thinking about what cool science project she can come up with for the science fair about how to make things blow up in a chemical reaction via baking soda and whatever else, she is worried about her thighs. Instead of reading a book about pirates or samurai swords or 18th century London, she is worried about looking good in skinny jeans. I want MORE for society, MORE for 4th grade girls. And in turn I do believe there would be MORE for everyone if we had a nation of confident, driven girls who were encouraged to discover who they were on the inside and learn how to love themselves rather than encouraged to see themselves as mere mannequins, constantly despising themselves for what they look like on the outside.

I chose this picture because I feel it encapsulates a lot of what girls and women in society go through today with regards to self-esteem, self-worth, self-hatred, body image, etc etc. - sometimes it feels like we are holding up a mountain with our bare hands. Trying to control everything. Trying to keep this massive boulder (of what? fear? rejection? loneliness?) from falling on us and smashing us into compote. The saddest thing about all of this is that I don't think it's the boys who hurt us, but OTHER girls. Friends. Peers. Family. I'm not sure why this is? I'd love to hear your opinions about it.

At its core though, the issue boils down to the disconnect between the spiritual/divine (the unchangable goodness and wholeness that we cannot see with eyes or or taste or smell but have to feel from within) and the material world of things, food, images, clothes, bodies, nature, tangible objects that constantly change. Our job is to marry these two (the divine and the material world) as they are both necessary, wonderful and interdepedent.

"So many "perfect" girls were raised entirely without organized religion, and the majority of the rest of us experienced 'spirituality' only in the form of mandatory holiday services with a big-haired grandmother...Overlay our dearth of spiritual exploration with our excess of training in ambition... and you have a generation of godless girls... raised largely without a fundamental sense of divinity. In fact, our worth in the world has always been tied to our looks... not the amazing miracle of mere existence." - Courtney E. Martin (via, Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth)

And where does food come into all of this?

"Women turn to food when they are not hungry because they are hungry for something they can't name: a connection to what is beyond the concerns of daily life. Something deathless, something sacred. But replacing the hunger for divine connection with Double Stuf Oreos is like giving a glass of sand to a person dying of thirst. It creates more thirst, more panic. Combine the utter inefficiency of dieting with the lack of spiritual awarenss and we have generations of mad, ravenous, self-loathing women. We have become so obsessed with getting rid of our obsession, with riding on top of our suffering and ignoring its inherent message, that we lose the pieces of ourselves waiting to be found beneath it. But fixing ourselves is not the same as being ourselves. The real richness of obsession lies in the effible stillness, the irrefutable wholeness, that is found in turning toward its source." - Geneen Roth, Women, Food and God

And how do we feel a connection to the divine? By knowing it's in us. In all of us. In everything. Always. It permeates throughout, weaved through the atmosphere, soaked into everything - the way salt dissolves in a glass of water and no longer becomes just salt or just water, but saltwater. There is no "out there" divinity and internal sinfulness, or internal divinity and out there sinfulness. Goodness and the divine is inherent in everything around you and within you.


M. said...

love this post. miss you!

Courtney said...

<3 and i love YOU! and your blog. you're amazing!!!!