On latex and botox

Friday 25 April 2008

Been pondering a bit more about the human body, after my mini nervous breakdown this week. Pondering how it is interesting that we get to live our lives in a visible encasement, each different than the other, dealt out in rather unegalitarian fashion, some beautiful, some ugly. And about culture, and the ways Christian cultures especially teach inadvertently that our bodies are bad. (Magpie Girl has a really interesting post today about why she is not teaching her kids the abstinence route. Thought provoking whether you agree with her conclusions or not).

Been pondering the media-and-advertising-driven obsession with our bodies, with the outward appearance. As evidenced by my posts this week, this is something I buy into and feed into whether I like it or not. I hate that I am affected at all by such inherent superficialities. I hate the focus for women on beauty. I hate it because I know that ultimately, boiling it down and painting with broad strokes, what it comes down to, whether women will admit it or not, is power. Women want to be gorgeous because it affords us a superiority, a haughty-eyed buffer between ourselves and others, an interesting mesh of having a tool that keeps people at a distance, draws them close, and keeps them dangling on a string. This ridiculous over-focus has been criticised as vanity in the past. But our culture loves it, encourages it. But the machine munches women up in the process, steals our strength, steals our self-worth, steals our bodies. Steals the things that belong to us.

Been pondering how it is that we can be so out of connection with our surroundings. Was lying in bed this morning thanking God for my latex mattress. I know, strange prayer, but you know :) I love my latex mattress. It cost a pretty penny but will last me for 25 years and it's supportive and doesn't allow dust mites to collect in it, and I like it, you know? We have been sleeping together for over a year now, and he's very supportive. (I haven't named him yet, but I might :) So anyway, I was thanking God for my latex mattress and then I went off into a rambling digression in my head about how I didn't know where the rubber that went into the making of this mattress came from, what country. I didn't know how many people harvested the rubber, or how the mattress was made. Then I thought about the different types of mattresses that people have slept on over the years and centuries (I know, I think a lot), and how it is that even though I love my latex mattress and it is more chiropractically supportive and comfortable than, say, a mattress made of hay, the person that slept on a hay-filled mattress had a connection to that mattress that I will never have with mine.

Often there would have been a physical connection, if they had stuffed their mattress themselves. Or at the very least, there would be a connection because they knew where their mattress had come from and where the filling had come from and who had stuffed it. I'm not thinking so much here about the environmental impact, the footprint involved in the making of my own latex mattress, the shipping from another country and the like. I'm thinking here in a more hippy mystical way about the connections that go on between the objects our bodies come into contact with every day, about how knowing the history of an object allows you to somehow enter deeper into that object, and how knowing that object in your own personal way means that you come to see that object in a different way than someone who just happens upon it. You can see the dark and light and the cracks and warps and the underlying inherent beauty that only comes with the passing of time. It's the kitchen table that you bought locally 20 years ago that might appear ugly to others because of the deep scars or blotches in it, but each blotch for you is a reminder of the early years of your kids and their meetings with scissors and other sundry ruinable items.

I've had varying periods in my life where I have felt attractive. Mine is the quirky Bette Midler variety, the kind of face that covers an interesting terrain depending on what expression is passing across it at the time (oh, I have a photo of myself I want to post here someday, if the friends who are also featured don't mind, where I was purposefully making a face that actually scares even me when I look at it. It betrays all known scientific laws. Man, it is so ugly, it makes me laugh). You can only make yourself ugly, I guess, when you feel secure enough to do so. I'm not so sure I would be making that face at the moment :) My little mini nervous breakdown this week has been informed by that ugly, hard little pocket of unacceptance that still lives in me (hopefully somewhat depleted after this week, one can hope). I know where that pocket has come from and who informed it, many years previous. It is a strange experience, having the human brain that I do, that I can observe that hard little pocket, note its shape and its size somewhat, and yet my awareness of it doesn't diminish it (well, it's the beginning of its diminishment, of course, but aren't we somehow surprised that shining the light of our own observance doesn't just blow it out of the water, but it's a much longer process than that and involves one Other than me).

I met a most interesting woman recently, an artist of the easel as well as an artist of her own life. Making something beautiful out of the everyday, she does, with great regularity. Sees what isn't and walks into it as though it is. A life of faith and creativity. I don't know if she believes in God or not but she walks in his lands regularly. I could see this from being with her for an hour. There was a photo on the kitchen sideboard of her and her husband, both laughing. It was the most beautiful photo. She's of average looks. It didn't matter. She knows how beautiful she is.

She is not a commodity. I am not a commodity. Neither are you. Perhaps the most beautiful women of all are the ones who know and understand this, who have come to terms with themselves, with who they are, what they have to offer, the seeds of themselves that live in them that need to sprout. They are beautifully free.


  1. Sue, this is such an important issue for me raising 3 daughters. I'm trying to teach them of the things you mentioned in your last statement.

  2. Kent - excellent things for a daughter to hear from her father :)

  3. Excellent post, Sue! You are so right about the beauty of freedom, of self-truth... The only can that matters, in the end.

    Our two daughters are grown up now, but I think (hope) we taught them all of this, without perhaps knowing a name for what we were teaching them!

    Thank you again, Sue...


  4. i continue to redefine (at least for myself) what "beauty" is. a few weeks ago while in mexico i saw a woman of indeterminate age--she bent over as she walked with a cane, her skin looked like the leather on a hard-ridden saddle and if i had to guess i would say she was 100 even in her bikini!

    while i have not just described what the media would call "beautiful," there was something very intriguing about her. maybe it was the magic of the moment, because she had just swam with the dolphins and in that instant (and now in this one) she stood out to me as truly beautiful (& definitely memorable!) i wonder if she knew then her own strength and beauty? i hope that is something i can pass along to my own daughter who now seems to be trapped in that hell of teenage adolescence and low self-esteem.

    hang in there, sue. you are a true beauty!!!


Newer Older