Loud Silence and other Oxymorons!

I am having a pain day, yet emotionally I feel fairly good. I am watching my cat’s bathe, and just found a friend’s keys. That means they have to come back. I already called them too, because of course they must be hunting for them. It makes the writing jarring at times as I like the flow on the dance of the words. I have been so busy lately, finding the means to all the scattered ends that make up a life, that I finally am having a moment of peace and solitude. It sure is noisy in my head today.

I am amused by some random things, curse words, the way that the pillows on my bed look, the sound of my neighbor’s existence being so quiet here after a year of so much noise. There is a quiet in this apartment that I have longed for and it dwarfs everything. At this moment as the sun streams through the window brightening my home, the cats too are between their moments of gleeful play. Here they play, not just a little but a lot. They wake me at times, crashing and thudding, yowling and howling, and being free. Sometimes they wake me up just so I will roll over and wrap my arms around them both using them as pillows. Even with music my house feels quiet.

The quiet won’t shatter here, though I find the adventures of life are leading me to some odd discoveries. I am going through the process of getting reassessed for more caregiver hours, I am exploring Second Life at long last, and I find that second life is actually satisfying. To me the virtual world has never really satiated the needs for communication I have, but to see the other person’s online self has given me something I was lacking. It is not a perfect match for social interaction but, it does fill in part of the void.

The Oxymorons however, abound with Second Life. There is less chat speak present than I expected, and more dysmorphia of the body. You can see people who have made their avatars look anorexic, no one that I have met so far appears to weigh as much as they really do. I am not even human in this virtual world. I donned the form of a cat, so that I can run and jump and play. It cuts down on my jealousy with Sprite and William. Some of the males suffer from a body image issue as well. They are so bulky that it is frightening to behold, their bodies twisted into caricatures of humanoid.

I know if I spent more time out of the house I would see the same body image issues, and I know too the media perpetuates a large portion of this mental disease. Our culture is ill. The more we watch movies with actresses who happen to make a broomstick look like it is obese, the more we make these movies, the more pressure our minds are under. Children suffer most especially. When I was diagnosed with Bulimia at the age of eight, it was rare and almost unheard of for someone so young to have an eating disorder. Now? Eating disorders are common at any age.

I didn’t notice until two years ago how men are also effected by the movies. They too have the unattainable body type. The people who twist themselves into these forms, perfectly thin, without figure, without health in many cases, give up their free time, the ability to go out and do things with friends, and those who use starvation or an extreme diet put their mental health at risk. Dieting can kill. You hear about it with diet pills but the restrictions and extremes that are persistent and present right now are the most shocking, cutting your stomach apart so that you can’t fit as much into your body is not going to work if you do not pay attention to how much you eat.

Now I am not saying everyone who diets doesn’t need to. Some people have eating disorders or disordered eating that effects their health. Exercise and proper diet are what matters. Proper diet doesn’t mean a spoonful of tomato soup a day. It means three squares. It means the balance you can achieve with a mixture of foods that are safe for you to eat. It means too listening to your doctor even if it means giving up food you may like.

I noticed too, by no longer watching television I no longer feel as worried about my weight. I rarely did before, but at times the old messages about my value and my body came up. The recent activities that I have dealt with made that much harder. Improper diet can trigger improper behaviors. It is harder to reign in my anger, which can be at times misplaced. I can be harder, but, when I look in the mirror I see me the way I am. I feel more beautiful today than I did when I was belly dancing. I think I may be healthier. That last sentence could be another oxymoron, or merely disguised as one.

The world we live in prizes ability, appearance, and supposed beauty over health, happiness, and the ability to live. To fit into this world in the way that they wanted I was living in a private hell, I was so tired, I was also living in pain that would never be treated because of course the pain had to be in my head. Our society is sick.

I challenge my readers today to leave the TV off for one week. You can get your news online, but at the very least try going one week without a sitcom, action or adventure. Spend some time with your books, family, or in the roaring silence of peace. Document the ways that you feel before and after, and see if there is a difference between your perceptions. How toxic can our current media system be?

Some other questions you might ask yourself?

1. How often do I see people like me (ability, race, gender, sexuality etc) represented on the news? In TV shows? Broadcast network shows? Cable shows?

2. How often do I see people like me represented as broad stereotypes (the angry guy in the wheelchair, the ugly woman in the wheelchair, the lesbian for a week, etc)?

3. How often do I see people like me represented as the villain?

4. How often do I see people like me represented as the victim?

5. How often do I see people like me as the hero?

6. How often do I see a person of a moderately healthy weight or a person who is plus sized ?

7. How often do I see a plus sized person as the lead, hero, villain etc?

There are dozens of other questions you can ask, but, the most important:

How does the lack/plethora of people like me in the media make me feel and effect the perceptions I have of myself/others?

I look forward to reading a few responses, and I think I may go and read a book.

Beauty

I am tired of the stereotype of beauty. I grew up being told that a girl should like men who look like Brad Pitt. I like women with soft lush curves, big and strong ones too. Many would consider my past conquests masculine, or overly thin, or fat. No one type fits what I like. I too have “strange” preferences for the men I have dated and these too tend towards those with meat on their bones, they have body hair, they are dark skinned, fair skinned, or really just alive.

Most of them, but not all, are tall. With either sex I tend to reach out for the taller people, though tall has changed in meaning since the wheelchair entered my life. I can’t look up at my baby brother without hurting my neck. He sits down for me, and still towers above. He is about seven feet tall. I love height because my family is full of tall people, except my own biological father. I associate height with safety. What does this mean about the other standards of beauty? Are we all programmed to like certain things?

Yes!

A huge part of my persecution in this life has been based on facets of my physical appearance. I have red hair, very pale skin that burns the instant sun touches it, soft full lips, and I have always had curves. My smallest size is a fourteen. I was barely eating to maintain that. My body needs meat on it. I am simply a curvaceous woman. I do have an ample bosom as well, and all of these things have been picked at.

I grew up being told I should be blonde. Blonde meant perfection. I hardly find blondes attractive as a result. I am aware that most of my siblings and my own mother are all blonde, and this factors in too. I think Blue Eyes are the best, though any shade is lovely to me. Blue eyes were mocked, because they are pale. Being a minority as a white person is very rare in any part of the world, the patriarchal structure still dominates and is usually white, even in countries where white is the minority. I have always been told my pale skin makes me wealthy. Whiteness in my state is a status symbol.

In India women who are by nature in the darker end of the spectrum are considered harder to marry off, they have less value based on something as simple as their genetic make up. The lighter you are, the more respect you can gain. This is White Privilege. It has defaced an entire culture, this love of all things white has poisoned us. You see whiteness in media, dominantly with able bodied super muscular WHITE men. You see their blonde perfection everywhere. I think back to the Nazi Propaganda studies group I was a member of in High School, and that is what I see. Reflections of past propaganda, continued, accepted, and fully realized.

Curly hair is considered disheveled. Girls with curly hair wake up at odd hours to iron their hair out. I think it is lovely, and my standard of beauty includes the use of a curling iron to add curls to my hair. This is rare, the era of the Super Perm died out at the end of the Eighties, except for a few hold outs.

I am told I must wear make up to seem presentable. I do, at times like to wear make up but I do it when it feels good. Usually I will also hide some of my facial scars under make up, if I cannot shake my feelings of Paranoia. I do not allow myself to wear make up on days when my self worth is being questioned, or when my confidence would hinge only on sultry red lips.

As I write this I am watching a movie that has what I consider the equivalent of Black Face. Sophia Loren is the Millionairess, Peter Sellers is the Indian Doctor who teaches her how to be more than a spoiled snob. This movie is full of propaganda that is anti woman, anti persons of color. I was enjoying it until I realized the fallacy that a white man is playing an Indian, with hardly any alteration of skin color and a very cliched accent.

I also note that the famed figure of Sophia Lauren seems to be aided via a corset. I might be wrong, but the extremes to her figure seem to need assistance. It doesn’t feel natural to me, though it does fit the “standard of beauty”. Her hair is lightened a bit, and of course she is always shown in posh and polished appeal during this film.

I do not think Brad Pitt is handsome. I think he is mediocre. This is all about looks, not his acting. I will not malign someone for having a career. I will however state that I do not understand the requirement to find him attractive. If you want to know who I find attractive in Hollywood, you will have to dig deep. There are few people that strike me as gorgeous or stunning, especially since we have entered the Anorexia Age of Hollyweird. Health is beautiful. That inner glow of self acceptance can make anyone gorgeous.

Since my blossoming into awareness about privilege I have seen more beauty in the world. This side effect shocked me. I like to compliment people when I find them attractive, and I have had the urge to tell the entire world how beautiful it is. The beauty I see is nothing like what is in the Movies or on Television. I live in a world of diversity. The people I see daily are of mixed race, from other countries, and their voices alone are a rhythmic song.

I am not beautiful by the overly BMI oriented modern sensibilities. I never will be. I’d have to break my bones, cut my body apart, inject myself with dye, and lose my sense of self. (This statement does not mean that those who naturally fit this standard are not beautiful, it is merely a rejection of the expectation to alter myself to be just like them) I reject the need to starve myself to fit a rare body type. I reject the fashion industry’s expectation that “fat” women do not like Fashion. I LOVE clothes shopping, and am discovering that I could easily spend a million dollars on cute shoes. These are cliches about womanhood, and yet you will find I only have four pairs of shoes, two for winter, two for summer. My clothing is all rather sensible, black, and boring.

I am pigeon holed by my lack of thinness. I am trapped by the need for others to stigmatize those who are not identical to them. I am not a Stepford Cripple, I am not anything but a person. I am flesh, I am bone, and I have soul. You are beautiful. My friend who is an immigrant is beautiful. I love listening to her voice, the way that she sings while she speaks entrances me. My friend who is the son of immigrants is beautiful. He cannot see that because his world is full of hatred, hatred of the Other.

I discuss privilege with my friends. It is an unavoidable conversation now. Eventually it is addressed either by discussion of politics, feminism, or simply the venting of frustration. I no longer hide my beliefs, to survive until the next day. I am free to speak them. Most of the time these conversations hold a similar impact, someone learns something. We all do really. My friends are all shapes and sizes. I have friends who are thin, blonde, and blue eyed. I have friends who are extraordinarily fat, but give hugs that are so soft. I have friends of every shape, size, mental capacity, and ability. My friends are all beautiful. You are beautiful.

Stop stigmatizing people for not being clones. Clones are scary, according to the media pundits and science fiction. Every time the word cloning is mentioned on TV it is with the hush of fear. Disability also has that hush of fear. Stop being afraid. Fear stops you from living life. This doesn’t mean you should ignore some fears, such as the fear of hunger or the fear of a snake bite. Stop fearing things that are different. If you do not understand something, educate yourself. Don’t fear it. Don’t shun it.

This includes fine art, not so fine art, but most especially people. Children are people. Women are people. I see often abuse launched at those who are different. I experience it every time I go out. I was reminded however, of the power of kindness and decorum.

I write often about the importance of gentle resistance, passive resistance, and not striking back. I admit I fail this way at times but, every so often I am given the reminder I need, the proof that I am right. I had transferred out of my chair at Sam’s Club, into the van and rolled down the window. Beside me a harried mother of two beautiful children, her disabled mother, and a cart of groceries struggled. I watched in silence, until they were about to leave, calling out to the woman that her mother had forgotten her cane.

Her son looked up as she thanked me, glad to not have to spend another twenty five dollars on a cane, and said, “Mommy, that’s the lady from the Walmart with the kitty!” His mother paused and said, “She was on TV too.” We talked then, and I complimented her for handling the stress. I could see she was frazzled, and I let her kids talk to Sprite while she settled them in. No petting of course, but, I told her how beautiful her family is. Three words. “You have a beautiful family.” Okay, five. I never was good with numbers.

She froze, looked at her kids, and then smiled. “I wish everyone could see that.” The thing I have not mentioned is this. Her children are Triracial. They are of Asian, African, and Caucasian Descent. I wanted to take them home with me, their sweetness gave me a rare pang of desire for Motherhood. It went away before we were out of the parking lot, but not the reminder that everything you do has a lasting impression. Every word, Every laugh, Every shout, every time you teach someone something. There is impact.

What draws me to people is never what they look like. It is instead their personality, the joy they have for life, and sometimes the hope that I can grow up to be like them. I may never grow up. I am always surprised when I realize for a moment I am not a child anymore. It fades, but, that too reminds me to be innocent.

Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. It is not what media tells us it should be. Beauty is merely in the existence of life. Flowers, Puppies, kittens, children, lovers. All beautiful. Be you a Homosexual, Transgendered, A person of non Caucasian ethnicity, red haired, blonde haired, black haired, green haired, or even a strange shade of orange. You are beautiful.

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