The other day I was standing in the elevator in my building, heading out for the day. In the elevators, the walls are all mirrors.
I glanced over and had a negative thought about my body — a reflexive, critical thought I’ve had a thousand times before.
I don’t remember if it was a hips thought, or a stomach thought, or a general weight thought. I can’t remember because what caught my attention was the stunning thing that happened next.
Before that familiar, mean thought ended, another one jumped in right on top of it. That one said,
“Tara, that’s the patriarchy, inside your head. Are you going to allow it to be there?”
And something in me said back, with utter solidity, “No. Out.”
With that, I bounced the thought right out. I flicked it back into the atmosphere.
It’s no coincidence that at the very same historical moment when women are gaining power — when we can lead, earn, and decide when and if we want to have children, a huge alternative force is arising to distract us from joyfully and fully claiming our power. That force is our society’s worship of thinness.
It seems to be working. Most women are occupied by this in one way or another – whether extreme body dissatisfaction or subtle insecurity, whether constant dieting or occasional, vicious self-critique.
Think about how perfect this force is for keeping women from our joy and our power. It keeps us in an endless, unquenchable pursuit. It causes us to stop supporting ourselves at the most fundamental level of our beings – our very flesh, our very selves.
I’m sad to say it, but a woman who can’t love her arms or legs or belly seriously compromises her power, because she’s turned against herself. She’s draining her own wellspring of energy.
Part of the illusion we’ve fallen into is that body image issues are our own personal struggles. They are not. This is just old-fashioned oppression of women taking up residence in our heads because it’s illegal for it to stand elsewhere.
What has become illegal has gone under the surface, where it can abide in a more slithery, difficult-to-trace form.
So darling, let’s do this. When you hear a negative body thought echoing in your mind, see it: this is a cultural pollutant, invading sacred territory inside you. You can flick it out. Bounce it.
The forces that made this cultural pollutant aren’t evil – they were just afraid of the unbridled, gorgeous power of a liberated you – because she is so holy, so sacred, so wild and so close to Life itself.
We don’t have to demonize the forces that would love to keep you dissatisfied with your body. We can even relate to to them – because we all have a part inside of us that feels just the same way: terrified of our enough-ness, afraid of our beauty, afraid of the radical fullness of Life uncontrolled and celebrated.
The only thing to do is blow a kiss to the fear and then sail off toward something better.
This fear is force that wants to turn all your energy toward inward critique, so that you never step onto the real stage of your life. This is a force that would love to distract you from sensual delights of the body, from your real work, from your brave choices.
It will distract you till the day of your death if you let it. Don’t. Call it out, boot it out, and then party with the gorgeous suit you got for this round.
Be the woman who didn’t listen to the dominant lie of her time.
I will be in NYC in September.
If you are part of a women’s group (formal or informal)
work for a company that would like to host a talk or workshop,
please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!