The Relief Society Lesson on Sunday was so fantastic, I had so many thoughts, but kept quiet because the lesson was so well done. Still, I'd like to share with my sisters the feelings I've had on this subject matter.
It's true that we are surrounded by toxic matters: insecurity, comparisons, jealousy, envy, self-esteem challanges, etc. What we need to remember as women is that we are our own support network. We cannot allow Satan to get us down about ourselves (I mean, who the hell is HE anyway?) By helping each other out, and bypassing the negatives we may feel, we strengthen our own sisterhood; we strengthen ourselves.
It's easy, I think, to see those in need of support,and it is clear that they need our help, but especially in this era of superficiality, it takes more insight to conciously reach out to those who are not in such obvious need. I had a dear friend in college, a roommate, sit alone on Friday nights because no one ever called her. She was beautiful, but in addition to that, she was the most kind, generous, and thoughtful person I have ever had the honor of knowing. She confided in me that, until I lived with her, she always sat alone at church because no one offered to sit by her. She hated Relief Society because it was so painfully obvious she was alone. She was in that ward for four years! I was appalled that such a wonderful person could be so ignored. And then it occoured to me: Everyone else thought she was okay. Everyone else thought she was pretty and fun and so she must certainly have a lot of friends! andboyfriends. In fact, she did have a boyfriend in another state who did not treat her very well. She cried often. Besides me, she had one other friend who was married, and rarely around. Guys were not interested in her because they knew she was dating someone, and girls, well, I could never quite explain how she had consistently been passed over when she could have been surrounded by girlfriends.
There's a book I love, and I know I've told you to buy it before, but I'll tell you all again; it's called, "Kiss My Tiara." It is sassy and hilarious and very useful. It's all about being a woman and being okay with being everything that a woman is. Along with that is the idea that it's OKAY to have a woman's body, that it is much more beautiful a shape than any hungry-looking model who may as well be a 12 year old boy in some Calvin Klein ad. One of my favourite songs is "Video Girl" by India Arie. Every time I listen to it, I want to run out and give the words to the Relief Society and make all of us recite it at the top of our lungs. "I'm not the average girl in the videos. My worth is not determined by the price of my clothes. No matter what I'm wearing I will always be, India Arie." She goes on about looking in the mirror, "And I know my Creator don't make no mistakes on me-every freckle on my face is where it's supposed to be...my hips, my thighs, my lips, my eyes, I'm loving what I see!"
Do you know that 3 out of 4 women has an eating disorder at some point in her life? That's horrible! I could not fathom that statistic, so I began asking my college roommates, friends, and neighbors. Sure enough, I was the ONLY woman I knew who had never been on a diet, and that statistic (in regards to eating disorders) was disturbingly true. It is not just about body image. It is about the striving for perfection and trying to control yourself in an uncontrollable world. It is not so much about being thin as feeling a need for perfection. There is an amazing lecture given by Elder Russell M Nelson over ten years ago- that the commandment to "be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect" is not so much about flawless perfection, but about enduring to the end and finishing this life through the resurrection. But that definition came out years ago, and look at us. We're still hungry!
So what to do? What to do? For one, we could start talking to one another. And I don't mean that mopey comparison-type talking; I mean honest-to-goodness "let's be generous with complimenting each other" talking. I give all kinds of props to the woman wearing that, "O no she di'nt!" outfit-because no matter what she may look like to me, she is clearly proud of herself. And why shouldn't we all strut around like that? We are strong and we are healthy. That, in and of itself, is something to be happy about. And it never hurts to notice someone else's goodness, either. Asking someone about hair products is one thing; being able to appreciate them for their humor, intelligence, kindness- well, those are reasons you'd actually want to keep talking with her and have her over for dinner next Sunday.
As for taking care of ourselves, I recently discovered a key that must have been helping me along subconciously this whole time. I am a huge Neo-classic/Renaissance Art fan. You know those pictures of the big, beautiful, glowing women? Get those up on your walls! Tear down Kate Moss (bless her heart) and start loving the curve of your belly, the strength of your thighs, and the shape of your body! We're beautiful! And with the right lighting, We're ART!!! And if you can't appreciate yourself for yourself, remember this: What we say to ourselves in the mirror, our daughters will be repeating as well. I trust that none of us wants to hear an eight year old proclaim they need to diet, but over 40% of them do. Please. For the sake of your daughters. Be kind to yourselves.
Respect yourselves. Besides, Satan would love to have power over you. He doesn't deserve it. Don't give him that. Every time you stand up for yourself, you strike him down.
And it always feels good to kick a little @%*.