Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Poison and the Antidote

Do you ever suspect, as I do, that some people get into the fashion industry for the sole purpose of having more opportunities to loathe women? I cam across a particularly hateful example of this the other day. Ruth La Ferla a “fashion writer” for The New York Times said,
“Ms. Danes ... turn[ed] out in a Giorgio Armani tulle confection that showed off an ethereal, if slightly skeletal, frame. What Ms. Danes lacked in pulchritude, Lena Dunham of “Girls” supplied in abundance, wearing a coral-rose-patterned Prada gown that (somewhat sloppily) showed off her curves.” (Big thank you to Charlotte Cowles and NY Magazine for outing this absurdly hate-filed article.)

Read Ms. La Ferla’s words again. It is so barely about fashion. Fashion is only the conduit by which she can get to what she really wants to say. That these women, these successful talented women, are not okay. Neither is she. Neither are you. She cannot help but splatter her own feelings of unworthiness all over everyone else. The stink of her self-loathing reeks as badly as burning hair.

Newsflash: People are different. They have different skin colors and body sizes and genitals. And that cannot be NEWS and that has to be OKAY. Because WTF. It just is.

And! Hold onto your hats folks, cause this is where is gets really scary… Remember when they used to tell you that it didn’t matter what color you were because inside we are all just the same. Well guess what? We are NOT all the same. And that has to be ok too.

Thank god this is what followed in my social media newsfeed: This is Miss Sequinette Jaynefield. Weird. Idiosyncratic. Singularly Gorgeous.
Thank you, Sequinette! You are the antidote to the social poison Ruth La Ferlatried to pour in my tea. Fashion is something that goes in and out, but true Style is forever. Flawless!!!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The modern problem of body self-loathing has reached epidemic proportions.  Most people of the western world seem to be afflicted.  Yet the problem itself is not a disease, it is a bad habit of negative self-talk.  The good news is that like any habit it can be broken with dedication and practice.

I have a two year old daughter and I can assure you she has never has a single moment of self doubt…yet.  This dysfunction is not something that springs inherently from human nature, but is a cultural dysfunction.  We have to call bullshit on it, not only individually but collectively, as it is a highly contagious disorder.

Women quickly sink into the vernacular of self-loathing as small talk.  “I feel so fat today.”  “Oh my god, me too!”  People slip into this type of conversation lightly, without thinking.  That faux-sisterly banter is not helping anything.  Its not even helping people be less “fat”.

One of the more striking things about active body-loathing is that it seems like it would be more effective.  It seems like all this negative talk would spurn people on to “do something” about their “problem”.  If everyone who talked about how hideous their bodies were using their negativity as riding crop to whip themselves into thinness it would almost make sense in a horrible way.  Instead, what I have more often seen, is that people lose weight and then are surprised when they still feel bad about themselves. That is because the true stealth goal of  negative body talk is to hate and debase yourself.  Your body is just the easiest means to that end.

When I got involved with neo-burlesque more than fifteen years ago, it was the first time I sat in a room with a group of women where the conversation did not veer into self-hatred.  On the contrary.  Here I was sitting in a room full of women of various ages and shapes that were owning and valuing their unique selves.  It was radical.  And there was so many more things to talk about!

At that moment it occurred to me that perhaps the ticker tape of negativity that scrolled through my head on a daily basis – that started with my body and then went into every other perceived flaw – could just be cut.  Perhaps I could simply decide to stop saying these things to myself.  I am going to tell you that it was a lot easier than I imagined.  I am going to tell you that beneath all of that sadness and self-pity and disgust I had a feeling I had value.

I challenge whomever is reading this to consider joining me.  What I am suggesting is nothing short of  radical self-acceptance.  That means you pledge to accept yourself now as you are.  Not 10 pounds from now.  Not when you get that job or when you meet the love of your life.  Quit today -- cold turkey!  Sometimes it will not be easy, but I really believe it will be easier than you imagine.

None of this is to say you should not be rigorous with yourself.  When you are stronger, look at yourself objectively.  Strive to be your best physically and mentally, but on your own terms to live your best life.

How much time do you spend with negative self-talk per day?  15 minutes?  A hour?  All day long?  Do the math and figure out how much time that eats up in a year.  Then consider donating that time to people in real need.  Getting outside of yourself is a great balm and while body self-loathing is an epidemic in our society I think we can all agree there are much worse problems. (15 minutes a day is 84 hours in a year).

You can blame the media, you can blame society,  but this starts with you.  If you cant love your self enough yet think of all the special people in your life that you admire. Think about them being subjected to this type of abuse.  You would stand up to anyone who tried to talk shit about your friend or your sister, right?  Now consider giving just 10% of that love and respect to yourself.

Think about what a great lover you will be when you feel confident about yourself inside and out.  Then you will be able to give more because the focus wont always be on you and your deficits.  Think about what a great friend you will be when you don’t steer the conversation into group self hate.  Think of what a great role model you will be to your siblings or children by not passing on this habit of hate.  Above all, think of what a good pal you can be to yourself!

One of the enemies is surely the false goal of Perfection.  A monolithic concept, perfection implies one correct way that only a few are able to attain.  It is destructive and should be removed from your goals. 

Instead, I would like to promote the idea of Flawlessness.  Flawlessness means that we are all inherently free of flaw.  Also, Flawlessness comes from the fierce, queer tradition of serving up the best YOU you can.

Welcome to the Flawless Foundation.  Pass it on!