By: Robin Rice, Guest Contributor
Would you mind if we talked about beauty? Real beauty? Just for a minute? And would you mind if I go deep? You see, “real beauty” as a term has already been co-opted, and I want to say something more than what’s already been said.
You might think of this as a heartfelt talk from your crazy auntie, or someone else who is just enough outside the mainstream to notice when things are getting wonky.
Like you, I was raised in a culture obsessed with beauty. I was the fat girl who was also smart, curious, and talented, even though nobody saw that. Maybe you made fun of me, or maybe you were me. It doesn’t matter, because today I’m more like the popular one—and of course I’m not supposed to say that, given how it sounds so very vain. It’s a “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” kind of thing. Sort of like beauty itself.
It doesn’t matter either way, because, tall, short, blonde, bald, multiple rolls of fat or huge thigh gap, we’re all in it together now.
Just what are we in? Peril. No, really.
(Let me remind you that I said I was going to go deep, so stay with me. This isn’t drama. This is straight talk from your maybe-NOT-so-crazy auntie who just might be on to something.)
Yes, we are in peril. Real, true peril. Why? Because this tragic never-beautiful-enough, never-thin-enough, never-ENOUGH-enough plague is not news. Not being news, we no longer notice it. Not noticing it, we accept it without much thought. In our acceptance, we shrug and say that’s just the way it is.
The result is an entire culture of smart, talented, creative women bowing our heads in a culturally imposed shame and focusing on getting out from under it by going on another f-ing diet.
We do the worst possible thing a collective of women can do: We stop trying to change the broken parts of the world. We stop doing our part to make the diseased, damaged, war driven, unjust (insert your own ten disheartening words here), and downright painful parts of the world better.
We opt out of the world conversation and buy a new pair of shoes to feel better.
Really, the shoes are not the problem. I like shoes as much as any shoe-wearing woman. It’s the feeling better because we went shopping for shoes that is the problem.
Think about that for a moment, would you?
I thought about it for a whole lot of moments, which led to a whole lot of years, and turned into a whole lot of writing.
What it all came down to for me was this: I didn’t know what to do with the women I saw (myself included) who were focused on how they looked instead of doing their part for a hurting world, so I decided to create a social change project at StopTheBeautyMadness
I know, I know, it’s edgy. It’s controversial and probably all kinds of politically incorrect. I’ll probably get shot at. I can live with that.
What is harder to live with is that, even with all that went into it, it probably won’t work. We’ll probably be having this talk again in a few years (google Jean Kilbourne and Naomi Wolf if you need my rationale on that).
But what is the alternative? To give up? Not going to happen. Not on my watch.
Anyway, what if it did work?
What if we really could stop the beauty madness?
What if we all took the destructive voices in our heads and finally challenged them? What if we called out the ridiculous beauty standards as the cultural phantoms they are? And – now we get truly crazy in that good-crazy kind of way – what if we ALL did it at once?
What if right now, instead of taking it up the esteem yet another day, all women started standing in their chairs or on the bus or at the dinner table and cried out “Stop. Just Stop The Beauty Madness. Now.”
What if we all dared to appear crazy so that something deep inside of us knew—really knew—we were calling out the insanity that we have been not only been fed, but in our silence been party to?
What if that calling out created a ripple effect and ten thousand poems were written and a hundred thousand videos were created and a million blog posts were posted and ten million people shared them all?
We have the platform, right here at the end of our ever-wired fingertips. What if we used it? What if we were so loud and so sure our great-children heard us three generations into the future?
Maybe it will happen and maybe it won’t. Maybe you’ll be with me and maybe you won’t. Still I will stand. Because while I’m glad to play any role that works for you (crazy aunt or wise guru or smart cookie or….), the truth is, I’m not crazy. And you are not crazy. The world of beauty is crazy.
I think it’s time we got that straight.
It's time to walk the talk when it comes to unrealistic and harmful standards of beauty!
- How do you define "beauty?" What is that idea based on?
- What needs to change in our global culture to heal the "not enough" mentality that Robin refers to?
- What 3 things can you do this minute to be more loving and accepting of yourself?
Robin Rice is an internationally published novelist and social change artist who brings communities together to rally around progressive ideas. Through Be Who You Are Productions, Inc., she has create music videos in five cities and been able to reach more than 500,000 viewers through youtube. Her most recent project is at www.stopthebeautymadness.com.
Image via stopthebeautymadness.com