Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Bein' a Woman! (Part II)

Thursday I had dinner with a kind of mirror. A looking glass from the future. She's been doing educational improv in Chicago for eight years. She's had commitment issues. We met at the best vegan hotspot in the city, right in the middle of Boys Town DOMA Day. Parades and confetti everywhere. We were connected via another great, supportive, mentor-type woman I met in Alaska. And in the safety of our seitan chicken salads she told me about how she, at age 22, with steady professional work, had been scared she'd missed her window. And I blinked and explained I almost dropped out of grad school last year because I really love improv, and I was worried if I "wasted" two more years on school I'd be too old to make anything of myself.

She explained about the webs of shame we take with us: work, family, body. All connected. I need a better form of success, which I can only have for a very limited time in the performing arts with a woman's body, a body that will never be as hot as it should be. No matter how hard I try, there's always going to be a tiny voice in me saying if I really cared about my happiness I would wear more makeup and hurry the heck up with making life choices because I die at 28.

Last year when I explained my drop-out predicament to others, every single man looked at me like I was nuts. Every single woman nodded gravely. They know. In fact, they were only half listening because they were counting down days themselves. Gotta get it (job, man, money, fame) now before any more people realize you're older than you were a minute ago.

This is really unfortunate (obvs) and what's more so is that we all feel this way but do not want to say so because we are so sick of the stereotyping of this feeling we don't want to keep feeding it, but it's there. It's still there.

I want to emphasize that I, and most women, are more powerful than this little nagglet. But, it should be noted...mainly so I (and others) can understand when "we" have negative thoughts about ourselves and how we're "doing" that it might not really be from our own good brains. It might be from, like, you know, hundreds of years of oppressive expectation, or some little inconsequential thing like that. I also want to emphasize that I believe men have similar nagglets. I don't even believe women's are inherently harder to deal with. But, I'm a woman, and this is my blog, so I'm speaking from my experience, ya dig?

ANYWAY. You HEAR about all this stuff so much, but where are the solutions? Yeah, "Just don't listen to the screwed up voice," but, pssh, okay, THAT'S JUST AS EASY AS PIE. (Ohmygod pie. I should be baking pie right now. For all the men everywhere. But never eating any. MUST BE A SIZE TWO.)

Three women I love! On my couch! Man! I feel like a woman! Shania!

Here are two small things I think, ladies, we can do:

1. Acknowledge that stupid shamebot inside yourself and argue with it instead of brushing it away. Like, don't ignore, "You would be happier if you were prettier." Make a case. Be like, "You know what, I am actually already very happy, and if my face were different I would not have the experiences I have had. Also, what is 'pretty'?" Etc.
2. SMILE AT OTHER WOMEN. This sounds maybe really stupid, but I am actually pretty convinced it goes a long way. I was standing on the sidewalk the other day wearing my usual attire (disintegrating sports bra, sweat shorts, over-sized hoody) when a girl my age walked by in a cute lil work-out get-up. I felt a tinge of "I should maybe try harder."(This is what I'm talking about with the shamebot. Everyone knows there's no chance I'll ever "look cute" for a work-out, but there's still a kind of pressure or guilt bubbling up sometimes.) It occurred to me that if that girl had smiled at me, I would actually feel better. Like, she doesn't care I look like a trashball. She really doesn't. But in my head the world is judging me. But! I could interpret a smile as "Oh, you're good the way you are." I've been trying this since, smiling at every woman I come into direct contact with. Oh, you're super old wandering through the grocery store? I am smiling at you. Oh, you are wearing a muumuu today in the park? LET ME SHOW YOU IT DOESN'T MATTER WITH MY TEETH. And you know what? The ladies smile back. Also, it's not even really about the lame gesture (Dear sweet Poptarts--I have turned into someone who actually believes in the "power of a smile"). It's about truly loving other people just because they are people. Like, you are just as important young or old or fat or skinny or wearing some fancy lulu leggings or a navy blue heart tank top with holes in it. So, to be reminded of remind yourself of that by loving pretty rad.

This was really long, but I'm going away to the woods for four weeks on Saturday, so updates will be scarce.

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