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The New Normal

31 January, 2014

It's been kind of a while since I've posted something like this. I'm feeling a bit rusty.

Since the beginning of the year, I've been reading lots of posts about folks "word" for the year. I thought quite a bit about what my word of the year would be.

And I couldn't come up with one.

But thanks to the wicked cold weather that has descended upon us here in northern Michigan, I've not really been out and about lately. This has given me a ridiculous number of hours to watching feel-good videos on Upworthy.

The other day, they shared the following video that originally aired on MSNBC in February 2014. It's a clip from Melissa Harris-Perry on National Eating Disorder Awareness Week and the "Barefaced and Beautiful" campaign.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzMYm_76Rw8]


Harris-Perry shares some staggering statistics about girls and their self image. And it's hard not to wonder "How did we get here?" How did we become so dependent on media and Hollywood and a world composed in Photoshop to tell us what is beautiful and what is "normal"?


I've written about my own struggles before. My experiences of having been told at the age of 8 that I needed to go on a diet by a classmate. That when I was 16 I was told I would never be beautiful and that when I was 22 I was "reminded" I would never be lovable. All of these shitty experiences left a mark, one way or another on not only my physical self (self medicating through food, self harm) but also on my emotional self.


How could I ever live up to the expectations of society when friends and family were telling me it would never happen? Where would I ever find the self-worth needed to silence the critics when all I really wanted to do was hide in my bedroom, under a pile of blankets in the closet? Where would I ever find the strength to love myself because it's hard to do when you don't look like the girls in magazines, on tv or in the movies.


The answer is I don't know.


I don't know why there are days when I wake up and immediately think "Fuck you!" to all of those who have told me I was "ugly" or "fat" or "only here to take up space" and "that everyone would be better off without me around". I don't know why I can turn the camera around on myself and see beauty in the final images when I can't see it in the mirror. I don't know why when someone tells me I'm pretty or compliments my appearance I shrug it off and can't find it in myself to believe them when really that is all I have ever wanted to hear from someone.


But it happens.


And as I get older (maybe wiser), it happens more often.


It gets easier to believe in myself.


It gets easier to love myself and to embrace who I am.


It get simpler to walk away from those who don't have the same faith in me that I have in my self.


And it gets easier to just be normal. My normal.


Not some trumped up version society has dubbed as normal.


But what is "normal"? How do you even define it? Nikkiana over at Authentic Experience asked that very question last week: How Do You Act Like a Normal Person


My version, let's me be free. 


Free to be ridiculous. Free to be creative. Free to be funny, smart, sarcastic and eccentric.


Free to just be myself.


So the next time someone asks me (which happens often), "Why can't you just act like a normal person?" I'm going to tell them "I am. I'm acting like myself."


20140128-P1281763-2


On a side note, I also suggest this video as well about redefining the definition of beauty and  "the selfie".
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFkm1Hg4dTI]

3 comments:

  1. Meg, this was a really great post and kinda what I'm needing right now. I looked over at the Authentic Experience link too, and judging from my upcoming posts and stuff I'm seeing floating on the net right now, a LOT of women are feeling these things right now. I am going to come back later and watch the videos; time to get ready for work now.

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  2. A) I'm glad that that what I wrote made sense. B) I'm glad it resonated with you. I've noticed since I've been cooped up on the house and have a massive sense of cabin fever that the need to "break free" has been strong which I think is where most of this is coming from. But wherever it is coming from, I am grateful for it.

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  3. This is such a tough issue... Self image is an area where I definitely have a lot of trouble.. I feel like I've ingested so many conflicting messages over the years in regards to beauty and weight and fashion that no matter what I do, I feel uncomfortable and unhappy in my own skin.

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Thanks for reading!