Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Day 2: Something You Feel Strongly About

30-Day Blog Challenge

I feel strongly about concepts of beauty.  

I'm about to date myself but when I was little my parents gave me a Cornsilk Cabbage Patch Kid for Christmas.  I loved that doll. She was black and cutie-pie plump with a head full of smooth, straight hair.  I threw her up in the air and that hair would cascade and bounce, just like those ladies in the Pert shampoo commercials.  I vividly remember following my mom around the house one day saying (repeatedly), "I want my hair to look like this!" After about the fifth time, she said something to the effect of "it's just not going to happen." But at that moment -- and for years afterward -- corn silk hair was the only hair I wanted. These were my "Facts of Life:" I preferred hair like Blair's, but mine was more like Tootie's. 

Photo Credit

This is grossly simplified, but here's my perspective: Early in life we are spoon-fed a lot of imagery and messages about beauty.  The people closest to us -- fathers, mothers, siblings, aunts and uncles, etc. -- tell us verbally and non-verbally what they find attractive and beautiful (or undesirable and ugly). We develop preferences, insecurities, and hang-ups.  We are taught beauty subjectively.  Documentaries like this one show us at the same time little ones are learning to tie their shoes, they've already mastered how to associate something as arbitrary as skin tone with qualities like kindness, intelligence, and success.     

This isn't as much a racial thing to me, though black women and girls certainly due have their specific issues.  When I'm not hearing or reading stories about black women and their hair, I'm hearing conversations about white women and their thighs, or women in general regarding their weight, chest, waddle, height, zits, love handles -- the varieties of beauty issues are just endless.  What pains me most is when I hear little girls comparing themselves, and then adults confirming (sometimes unconsciously) that one child is prettier than another because of (fill in the blank).  Sometimes I compliment little girls on their hair or skin, and they are absolutely shocked that I see it as beautiful. I could understand a little girl smiling or being a bit shy as a response to that type of compliment... but when the response is "shock," my heart sinks a bit.

I can't put everything that I feel regarding this into just one post.  I am still guilty of looking at my own body -- even though I'm healthy, Praise God! -- with disdain at times.  Shame on me!  I know that we are made in the image and likeness of God, and He knew exactly what he was doing when He created us.  I just wish we could all see ourselves as He sees us.  His lens is much clearer and sharper than ours.  And there is (or should be) so much more to us than what we look like.

Eve Ensler sums up my sentiments about this splendidly in this clip from the documentary "America The Beautiful" (which I recommend to those 18 and up)...

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