March,2016: National Women's History Month

I think it appropriate to take a moment to thank Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony who worked together for 50 years, (1851- 1902), on behalf of American women to have the same rights as men. Their National American Woman Suffrage Association, started in 1869, focused on getting women the right to vote. And, both of these women worked really hard together for equality for women beyond having the right to vote. Other causes included allowing girls to study the same subjects as boys, equal pay at the work place, and permitting married women to maintain control over the money they earned, (previously a woman’s salary went to her husband).

Let me note as well that neither of these women were typical bathing suit beauties. Thank goodness, that short-coming, (note sarcasm here), didn’t get in their way of making huge and important changes for women in the USA. I’m terribly grateful for what they did and for how they persevered. I’m equally relieved that there were fewer social media pressures on them, (compared to today), with regard to having to have a perfectly shaped body and the struggles and lost time that go with that.

Unfortunately, for so many women today, the struggles around our bodies and body image are almost endless. We can be as successful as anyone in our careers, and earn a whole bunch of money, but the endless media messages always focus on the way we look. Body size, clothing, make-up, hair, the list goes on and on. We struggle day-in and day-out attempting to be perfect and believe that acceptance and love will be ours once we have the perfect body. Of course, many come to realize that even with a smaller body, our internal happiness doesn’t necessarily increase at all.  We also should remain on alert because more often than not, right around the corner of perfectionism lies anger and self-abuse. We sure can become very angry at ourselves for indulging in a meal or dessert, can't we?

I’m mentioning all this to put our lives and goals into perspective. While being healthy and comfortable in our body is important and appropriate, there are far more important things in life, or there should be, than walking around with the perfect body.  (And, whomever has given definition to a woman’s perfect body size and how that individual or group has acquired this unparalleled authority, I simply don’t know. Nor care.)

Far more important to explore in my mind are soulful, philosophical questions. Who am I inside? What am I here to do? How do I want to live? What can I do that will make me happy? How can I make a positive difference in the world? What is my gift? Whom do I need to forgive in order to heal? These are just some of the questions worth considering. But, back to our foremothers above and all their accomplishments. Their body sizes and ours make up just 1 element in the complex picture of who we are. (This is contrary to what the social media and advertising industries would have us believe, of course.)

Authentic, soul beauty and love are always first and foremost to be found on the inside. The real us lies deep within waiting and hoping that someday we may come out just as we are and be heard and loved. It would be a wise and loving gesture to lay down the perfectionistic sword and reach out instead for a loving embrace. Self-acceptance and love always heal.