There is such a focus on appearance in the dominant culture. Do I look good enough? Am I attractive? Am I handsome? Am I pretty? Is my hair out of place? Do I have a blemish on my face? Constant chatter and noise inside of us, distracting, discouraging, destructive noise. The belief, if I don't look the right way I will not be accepted, I will not find a mate, I will not make money, I will not be allowed into the inner sanctum, I will not belong. How we look becomes a measure of our value and this is such a lie, a lie that has been impressed into our beings repeatedly. I'm dictating this blog into my phone as I drive to a dance and unbidden thoughts are coming into my head, "Is my hair OK?" "Does it look funny?" Seriously? I'm worried about whether a curl or two is going in the wrong direction as I'm writing a piece on the colonization of how we look.
The idealized beauty-equals-acceptance mandate is powerful for both women and men. I've heard wonderful, beautiful women call themselves ugly or say they've been told they were ugly or some part of their body or face was unacceptable. Or they wonder when they go into a store if there will be clothes to fit them. Men worry about "love handles" and not having enough muscles or carry the sting of not looking like the latest handsome movie star. I'm not saying anything new here, it has been almost thirty years since "The Beauty Myth" by Naomi Wolf was published and many other authors have spoken to this lie, this strategy to undermine and control us, exposing the industries preying upon our appearance insecurity in order to extract money out of us, to hold us hostage, hold us in our shame, to trap us, to colonize us by giving us a new religion and a restricted reservation to live on. That is colonization of how we look. There is one way to look, one way to present ourselves. We are placed in a little box distracted about arm flab or hair color ensuring we don't rise up as our glorious, wild, beautiful selves who don't really need the beauty industry. To colonize a people, you need to create some degree of instability and distraction while homogenizing the environment. Take away the connection to place, and innate wisdom replacing them with the state or corporate script. Colonization is all about control of a large group by a small group for the benefit of the small group to the detriment of the large group.
I was India once and flipped on the TV and literally there was an ad for a cream to lighten the skin. The scene opened with a very dark skinned man. He was sad and ostracized, people around him ignored him or jeered at him. He got hold of this cream and rubbed it on his body. Through the magic of television, there were sparkles and he was magically multiple shades lighter. Before you knew it, he was the center of parties, women were all around him and he was being congratulated and welcomed by all the men. It was such a blatant caricature and exactly what all of us have felt. There is a particular way of looking and if you are not that way, somebody will be able to sell you something with a promise of making you smell better, look better, look younger so you can fit in and not feel ostracized and not feel the nagging emptiness in the pit of your stomach (which was placed there when we were uprooted from our metaphorical and literal home and placed on the reservation - this world we call real)..
Looking a certain way to be accepted is BS, absolute BS. We are not wrong, we are not a mistake, we do not have to change our appearance to be loved and belong.
Now beauty feeds us. There is nothing wrong with adorning ourselves, primping, putting on plumage and color. However, we do not change our appearance in a service of shame or insecurity, but what feels beautiful to ourselves. Of course, express your innate beauty, present yourself as beauty inspires you. Beauty is present in absolutely every one of us. Beauty is our birthright, we are all beautiful. We do not all look alike, but we are all beautiful.
I feel the conditioning inside of me. There are judgments of myself and judgments of others who don't fit a mold I deem beautiful. I need to question those judgments and ask where is this coming from? Who told me that is ugly? I usually get pretty angry when I realize I've been fed a line to manipulate me and I believed it. The work at hand is to not blindly accept the programming which runs inside of us, but question the source of our beliefs knowing we all have been colonized. We all have been chained to a small plot of land and fed the one true way of being (looking). If you ask inside, if you ask your soul and listen, do the stories and judgments really make sense?
So what god do we serve, what god do we think punishes us if we stray outside the bounds, the lines? There is a god of beauty in this culture with the one true faith. We gotta ask is it really true?
Punished by the Wrong God
Click on the "Comments" link above each post to leave a comment.
Jose Enciso is an engineer by profession, a poet by necessity and a seeker of spirit and soul. He brings a gentle presence and deep respect for the interior journey as expressed through creative and expressive arts. Jose is a skilled group facilitator who is committed to the spiritual and psychological growth of those around him. He trained under Francis Weller to lead men’s initiation groups doing deep soul work and is equally comfortable in managing complex technical projects. Jose is devoted to the emergence of the divine feminine, supporting women and men claiming their voice and power, and rediscovering the soul of masculinity. He is currently working on multiple projects including a book which seeks to encourage everyone to write their own poetry as a discovery of their own soul's truth.