Fears Separate Us from Our Prosperity

It’s amazing to me how much we buy based on our insecurity.  We buy creams to “correct” wrinkles.  We buy makeup to hide “flaws”.  We spend money on all sorts of costly cosmetic treatments to beat aging.  We buy into diet program after diet program to keep weight off, instead of dealing with the “why” of the weight.

Copy of body positivity (2)I think all of this buying into what we “should” look like or how we appear is more than vanity.  It belied a great amount of fear and insecurity–fears of over not being seen, fear of being out-of-control, fear of being judged and disrespected.

A few days ago, I was hanging out in a very tony area of Los Angeles, catching lunch between meetings at a casual lunch spot.  Every fear I mentioned above got triggered.  I noticed right when my plus size self walked in, it was like I was immediately out of place.  It was like no one saw me.  This area is high traffic for tourists, but there was no line after the lunch rush.  I sat for at least 10 min before a waiter approached me and then another 15 min just to get the glass of water I had asked for.  No one bothered to refill it.  Meanwhile, the lithe couple that was seated next to me five minutes after I arrived were served with much more attentiveness.  Newsflash:  the svelte woman ordered the same food I did–veggie quiche and a lightly dressed side salad.

It’s hard not to feel out of place sometimes.  I felt completely unseen at this lunch spot.  Normally, this would be the stuff of Yelp reviews, but instead of dumping my anger on Yelp, I wanted to see where that anger was coming from. So here it is:

I fear being unseen as a plus size woman in the world.  I fear having assumptions made about my self-care.  I fear having assumptions made about my personal finances due to my size.  I fear being made to feel out-of-place.  I fear being judged for how I appear to the world.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Though I was angry at how I was treated, I am grateful because I took a moment to understand where that anger was coming from instead of just being another unhappy, indignant customer.

And…that’s why it’s so easy to sell diet culture to the masses.  Most women are plus sized and they’re told they’re “less than”.  We fear being left out so we buy into the useless pills, the cosmetic offerings of the moment, all to push back against that fear of not mattering.  Just for today, take a moment before you whip out your credit card and ask yourself if you’re making a fear-based purchase, especially if it’s in regards to your appearance.  What made your feel that way and why?

Separating women from their hard-earned money (pay gap and all) is a means of controlling women.  Don’t let someone profit from your fear and insecurity.  Walk through world, proud, no matter what…even when tony tourist spots treat you like shit.

Weighty Self-Worth Issues

This week, I had a lesson in how valuable I am.  From time to time, we say to ourselves, “I’m valuable.  I’m important.  I have something to offer,” etc.  It’s easy to pay lip service to those affirmations, but it’s a whole different matter when we actually have to calculate our worth in real terms.  Yesterday night, I was crunching a bunch of numbers regarding some of my business ventures and I realized that I had a good sense of my worth.  I wasn’t asking “Who would want to pay for that?”  Instead, I was asking, “Who wouldn’t?”

Not everyone has had the epiphany I’ve had though.  It’s been well documented that skinnier women get paid more than heavier women and all women are touched by the gender pay gap in some way as well.

Freek Vermeulen explains:

Various studies have shown that overweight people are seen as less conscientious, less agreeable, less emotionally stable, less productive, lazy, lacking in self-discipline, and even dishonest, sloppy, ugly, socially unattractive, and sexually unskilled; the list goes on and on.* The stereotypes run so deep that even obese people hold these same discriminatory beliefs about other obese people.

It’s hard to stand up for what you’re worth as a plus size woman in the world.  It’s hard to fight years of stereotypes, especially the ones we’ve internalized and had used against us.  The saddest thing to me is that people with weight challenges do often hold these beliefs about others with weight issues.  I know I too struggle with this and I have to check myself.

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of body positivity.pngToday’s the day to really ponder what you think you’re worth.  Are you short-selling yourself because you’ve told your body makes you “less than”?  You’re important and valuable whether you’re a size 0 or a size 5X.

Also, don’t forget to measure value in more abstract terms too.  Real dollars and cents make sense, but are you treated well at your work?  Do you feel valued and important?  Your paycheck may be adequate but the emotional cost of your work environment may be too much.  There are some things money can’t buy, and one of those things is a happy heart and an ebullient spirit.

I think one of the most freeing things that can happen for anyone struggling with body image issues is to get to that head space where you have “zero f**ks given”.  You’re just doing you.  That’s the zero you ultimately want to achieve.  Zero is not a size to achieve but an attitude to aspire to, where you know what makes you happy and you’re not allowing others to dictate to you what you should think and feel about yourself and others.  So that’s the zero that I wish all people get to–not a teensy weensy size but a big, bold attitude of self empowerment and self worth.

 

 

Not Just a Hollywood Problem

I’ve been thinking a lot about the state of women in the world.   Hollywood was reeling over the avalanche of harassment and sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein.  The #MeToo hashtag is near-constant in my various feeds.  I am saddened.  I keep asking myself, “How do I take action?”  And more importantly, how to take action that reverbs beyond just Hollywood?

I see Saudi women claiming their right to drive and wanting more of the rights that we in the USA take for granted.  There’s been significant action to stop child-marriage in India.   Men are expressing remorse, sympathy and solidarity for the women brave enough to tell world their “Me Too”.   There IS progress.

I had a conversation with Nada Nasserdeen of Rise Up For You this morning.   It will be up soon.  We discussed so many things and one of the things that came up was the pay gap.  What Harvey Weinstein did was horrible, and once the headlines fade on this, we still have to keep pushing for economic equality.  Abuse of power is intimately tied to money. Having money does not give you the right to abuse other people.  One of the things that stands out about the Harvey Weinstein debacle was how  he was perceived as  a “golden goose” to quote Scott Rosenberg, a long-time associate.  If you haven’t read Rosenberg’s comments, read it.  Weinstein’s ability to make box office money left him unchecked. Considering how little progress has been made to include more women in the decision-making process of commercial film and television, it’s no wonder that he would-be-Harvey-s would feel invincible.

How do we move forward beyond this week?

  • Reach out to a woman in entertainment and let her know you support her.  Let her know that you care.
  • Go to a play or movie directed or produced by a woman.  Support women in the arts.  There’s an old maxim that “You’re only as good as your last picture.”  Let’s support women making art.
  • Do not tolerate bad behavior, “locker room talk” or any action that demeans a woman or girl at home, work or school.
  • Support women globally, especially to empower them economically.  A threat to women’s freedoms anywhere compromises women’s freedom everywhere.  One of my favorite ways to do this is by funding a micro-loan on Kiva.

This is about more than the transgressions of one man.  There are more Harvey-s in every industry, every country.  This is not just a Hollywood problem.  It’s a power imbalance that manifests everywhere from gilded Hollywood to the most humble villages on earth.  As long as the pay gap is tolerable to the majority, women will still be a minority, even if women outnumber men.

 

 

Hollywood’s Problem Starts in High School

The success of Wonder Woman and the live action Beauty and the Beast has generated a great deal of discussion about women in cinema and woman-centric narrative.  A Variety article pointed out, though, that despite record box office, women, “made up only 7 percent of all directors working on the 250 highest-grossing domestic releases in 2016. That represented a decline of two percentage points from the year before.”  Without getting too heady or too political, I need to point out that women’s narratological problems start off long before a screenplay gets optioned by the studios and directors are hired.  It starts in high school, with the ways we are taught narrative structure.

Read more on Mogul.