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When I read If This is Progress Where the Hell Are We Going? — The Girl Revolution, by Tracee Sioux, I felt compelled write about this topic. Tracee is asking the question: what is progress when it comes to body image and self-esteem? I’ve been pondering this question for quite some time now.
For my Secrets of Mom blog, I have people write in asking to guest post frequently. One woman, who I’m sure had the greatest of intentions, was upset about the Dora doll in pink ballet clothes. She wanted me to publish her post about why it was sexist and inappropriate. The thing is that I couldn’t post her article because I didn’t agree with it at all.
I thought, why shouldn’t there be a ballet Dora in pink? My oldest daughter wears pink and teal to her ballet class every week. I don’t see the problem. I don’t see the problem if a boy wants to wear pink to ballet class either. I also don’t see a problem if a boy or girl wants to wear whatever color in the rainbow they please for whatever activities they choose. Why does it matter? Why are we trying to put people in a box? Is it to make ourselves feel more comfortable? What are we afraid of?
Growing up, people called me a “tom boy”. I loved being outside. I played football, kick ball, and soccer with boys and girls, climbed trees, flew (crashed) from rooftops, crawled in the dirt trying to catch frogs and feral cats, and I loved having mud fights with my brother. I had no problem getting dirty. The thing is that I also loved wearing lip gloss, writing and drawing quietly, reading, doing my hair and nails, and picking out what I thought were pretty clothes. This was completely natural for me. I was a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Aren’t we all. Isn’t that okay? Why wouldn’t it be?
When I was working on the Plus-Size Models Unite blog, I wanted to change the title of the blog so bad it almost made my head spin. I thought, why couldn’t we name it Inspiring Women Unite? That title fit more with my personal idea of including all women of every size, color, ethnicity, shape, age, etc. I didn’t want to have this one-dimensional idea of what an inspiring girl or woman is because I don’t think there is one specific physical mold of a person who can epitomize health, happiness, love, creativity, success, or what it means to be a woman.
I love plus size models (don’t get me wrong), but I also love scientists, writers, artists, athletes, inventors, dancers, journalists, and a whole long list of other interesting people who don’t necessarily have the body of either a straight or plus size model.
When I think of some of the most amazing women who inspire me, I think of women like Lucy Ling, Christiane Amanpour, Maya Angelou, Emily Dickenson, Helen Keller, Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, Anne Frank, Coco Chanel, Ayn Rand, Jane Goodall, Amelia Earhart, Lucille Ball, Julia Child, Margaret Mead, Virginia Woolf, Harriet Tubman, Gloria Steinem, Ann Curry, Bethany Hamilton, Kim Parker and many others.
You know what? I never think of their looks, shape, dress size, or choice of clothing or make up. I don’t think about if they are plus size or petite. I don’t really care if they like pink or blue. When I think about these girls and women, I think about what they have done, who they are, and how their actions and words inspire the world.
I think body image and self-esteem progress comes down to this: one girl or woman at a time celebrating her own body, mind, abilities, talents, self-worth, self-esteem, beliefs, and unique self. It’s about that person taking action and standing up for what they believe in—whatever that may be. It’s about taking risks. It’s about respect. It’s about people, who are honest with themselves, working together or as individuals to make a difference. Progress is throwing out the box.