I want to explore the lie in our society that we are broken and need fixing. Because the more aware of this lie I am becoming, the more I am seeing just how insidious and widespread it is in our culture.
Obviously I do not speak for all cultures here. I am Australian born and raised and although I do the work to extend and advance my lens, I do see the world through this lens.
I recently went to the movies with a beautiful friend of mine and we saw a movie called “I Feel Pretty”. I must admit when I saw the trailer for this movie, I was shocked and extremely angered, not only by the premise, but also by the way they were showing the main character, Renee, to be in the world. They were selling ‘a real woman’, who they then indicated had mental health issues because she hit her head and suddenly saw herself as attractive. ‘Hot’ even.
When I saw the movie, however, I was pleasantly surprised at Amy Schumer’s portrayal of the average woman who doesn’t believe she is enough, beautiful or in any way desirable. I cried, I laughed and then I cried again, because for me personally, and every single woman I know intimately, the feeling of not being desirable in some way is a deeply entrenched part of their life and their journey.
My friend and I parted ways after a yummy coffee (and chai) and some window shopping with a hug and a relief that we could once again be okay with Amy Schumer and her comedy. After all, she had stood up for the average woman, right?!
But something sat uneasily with me and I must admit I couldn’t quite figure out what it was for a few hours. But here it is.
The movie only worked because we could all relate to her standing in front of the mirror in absolute devastation at how her reflection looked back at her. Now hang on a second. This movie is addressing that we all feel this way, but it makes out the woman is the insane one for changing how she sees herself, not ever actually indicating that maybe society, and ridiculous expectations put on women are actually the problem here.
Her friends told her they couldn’t be around her anymore because they never cared what she looked like, only that she was kind and funny and wonderful and when she changed (because she thought she was hot) they felt embarassed by her behaviour. But not once did they stop her when this all started and say ‘hey, I don’t know whats going on with you but I’m worried.’ They passed the buck back at her and were upset when she didn’t do with it what they wanted. Now I also take the stand that we are all responsible for our own behaviour, so yeah, she could have done better as well.
And the more I thought about it, the more I could see that without first selling us (over generations and centuries) that we, as women, are inherently broken and must be fixed, could we be sold tickets to a movie where we could all sit and identify so strongly with a woman who feels so broken, that she has to hit her head extremely hard to feel she has any desirability at all.
I don’t know what it is going to take to change this structure. But I know I want to. Because it is deeply harming us. It is keeping us locked down and controlled. It is stopping us from being anything other than the best women we can be. It keeps us divided and in fear. I can list the ways I have been told I am broken, and my privilege is that I haven’t been told I am broken in many ways as well.
I am broken because I am not wealthy.
I am broken because I am larger than a size 6.
I am broken because I am too loud.
I am broken because my mum worked instead of stayed home.
I am broken because I was sexually assaulted as a child.
I am broken because I have stretchmarks all over my body.
I am broken because I have 4 children.
I am broken because I left my marriage.
I am broken because I ….
How many brokens do you have? I could go on for days and days. And as I list them out, I can laugh at them. Because they can tell me all they want that these things make me broken, but I’m not buying their lies any more. I am not broken. I am stronger because of these things. I am better because my life has happened to me. And that is privilege right there.
At the end of the movie Amy Schumer does a speech about normal women, she invites us to explore what it would feel like if we ignored it when we are questioned for who we are. The comments made to us from when we are little girls that begin to eat away at our confidence. She invites us to rise above these and not let them ‘break’ us. I agree.
But I really want to get this message out there too ~ YOU ARE NOT BROKEN. YOU NEVER WERE. YOU ARE WHOLE, EXACTLY AS YOU ARE, RIGHT NOW, IN THIS MINUTE. And you don’t have to be anything other than yourself to be loved, to be desirable, to be wanted. Listen to that whisper that is agreeing with this message. Start speaking that to yourself daily instead of the idea that you need to change something. You don’t. End of story.