This is more important than hormones.
Actually, maybe it’s important precisely because of hormones. Because hormones are what make us women. And today I want to talk about something that is near and dear to my heart, as a woman.
I read a lot of stuff (blogs, reports, books, articles, scholarly shizz) so that I can stay on top of my game and also bring you new ideas and things that push into new territory. And one of the people I have been reading lately is Kelly Diels.
Now, I’m going to say an ‘F’ word here that might scare some of you, but it means a lot to me: feminism. Kelly Diels is a feminist writer who talks about the ‘Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand’ (FLEB). The FLEB is about women who sell exercise and diet and spirituality and related things, but they do it in a way that actually belittles, demeans, and disempowers their audience (primarily women).
I am writing to you about this because I am learning about how I don’t want to do that. Not even in subtle ways.
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It took me a decade to realize that body size had almost no correlation to health status. Until then, while I wasn’t a ‘fat shamer’ I was definitely a ‘fat worrier.’ I worried that extra fat might reduce women’s health. (You know what reduces women’s health? Lack of movement. There are other, social factors that also play huge roles, but in terms of physiology- movement is it.)
I also was someone who definitely bought into the ‘exercise so you will be acceptable’ idea. That your body size and shape determined your worth. Today, of course, I think this is bollocks. Today, I believe exercise is for three things: keeping your heart healthy, feeling strong/flexible/kickass, and enjoying life.
My ideas have changed as I have read more about female physiology, listened to stories of women destroying themselves with exercise and nutrition, watched women shut down through peri-menopause (and never return with their hard-won wisdom), and seen myself and other women feel ashamed of their sexual needs. I want to empower women because I want them to be healthy and also because I am a feminist.
(Like, yes, a real live, ’empower everyone’ feminist. I don’t hate men. I do hate that I have to write that because of people who have hijacked the meaning of ‘feminism.’ grrr.)
Here is the thing that Kelly Diels is inspiring in me, though. I want to be more accepting, empowering, and aware as I keep moving forward. I don’t want to manipulate, demean, or belittle anyone.
But I am probably going to make mistakes.
I am rewarded, on many levels, for what I look like. Petite. Slim. Attractive. Healthy-looking (‘healthy’ has a very narrow definition, mind you). I get benefits from the non-empowering system because I fit so well into it. And because I fit so well into it, I also have a lot of the programming stuck in my head.
But I am going to be very careful to not perpetrate that programming/culture on you. Because I want to empower you. Always. (And I also like calling out bullshit.)
Because what I dream of is a world where all people have the resources and time to be healthy. Enough nutritious food. Adequate green space for movement and contemplation. Adequate health care services. Social support for mental health. No ridiculous work hours. And – if I get all crazy in my dreams – a place where the Sex Surge is well understood and accepted in society. (I know, right?!?)
So, I want to leave you with this piece from Kelly Diels. It’s called “Women Are Not A Problem To Be Fixed,” – because we aren’t.
“Our culture’s base assumption about women is that we are a problem.
At school, our bodies are a distraction and keep boys and men from their studies. In houses of legislature, our bodies, fertility and persistent human desires for autonomy are a problem to be solved and regulated. In the media, we’re scorned and lying harridans falsely accusing athletes of rape and ruining prestigious sports events with our calls for justice. At home, too. At parties, too. At work, too. We either say too much, lie, or don’t say it correctly with the right amount of bass in our voice. We insist on being heard or we’re not loud enough and no one hears us. Why didn’t we say something? And then when we say something, we say it wrong. We fail to signal male competence and authority in our speech patterns. We wear the wrong clothes, clothes that remind people we are women. We don’t wear the right clothes, clothes that remind people we are women. We bear children. We don’t bear children. We stay home to take care of our children. We don’t stay home to take care of our children. We go to work and take care of our children and our loved ones and therefore wreak havoc in the workplace designed around the idea that someone else is supposed to be at home doing that for us. That’s how the men who occupy 95% of top jobs do it. But we are not men. We are a problem to be corrected.
So we try to compensate. We try be perfect. We try to improve.
Self-improvement, as an industry, is often about correcting the fundamental problem that women have in our culture and our culture has with us: that we are women. We need to be fixed. We need to fix ourselves.
“You don’t need fixing. The world needs fixing.” – Poppy Lochridge “
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Beloveds, you don’t need to be fixed. I hope this message becomes more clear in my writing and work as time goes on.
If you want something of your mind, body, spirit- then, heckya, I’m in. But only if it comes from a desire deep within you.
If your goals come from the noise of society, or your SIL’s chiding, or the fear that your husband won’t love you after menopause unless you’re skinny- we gotta talk about that. That stuff hurts your heart and soul and we gotta talk about that.
Because you are amazing. And we need you. Most of all, we need you feeling healthy and powerful.