Define Beauty

How do you define beauty? I know how our society seems to define it and I never fit that “ideal”. Because of that ideal, I have never really seen myself in a positive light, unless I was evaluating a role I was fulfilling—mother, wife, grandmother, dog handler. We use body shaming too often with our girls and ourselves. I can partially understand why the Mayor of London (as in Great Britain) has banned some public images of the female body. After all, as he says, he has two teen-aged daughters and he’s worried about their self-image in regards to their own bodies. I also have my reservations about the Mayor’s edict, but that’s for another blog post.

 

I’ve found a wonderful organization which celebrates girls, teens, and young women with disabilities. Founded by Abbie Curren, 2008’s Miss Iowa, and the first contestant to compete for the Miss USA crown with cerebral palsy, this organization is the “Miss You Can Do It” pageant (https://www.facebook.com/missyoucandoitpageant/).

 

I like this organization for a lot of reasons. Beauty comes in all sizes and in all forms. Beauty isn’t just the “ideal” our society claims it is. Beauty is just as much in the eye of the beholder as it is to be found within. I struggle daily with body image—I’m not getting any younger and those grey hairs I keep finding aren’t helping. The fact I’ve carried two children within my body doesn’t help that body image. That is—they didn’t help until I looked in the mirror a few years ago and said, “ENOUGH!” How I view myself had a direct effect on my daughter. I hear her say the same things about her body that I’ve said, unwittingly, within her hearing about my own body. And, I’ve heard my ten year old grand-daughter and my six year  grand-daughter shame their own bodies.

 

Enough is enough. I will no longer allow myself to be shamed because I’m not 95 pounds soaking wet. I will no longer allow myself to be shamed because I have stretch marks from carrying my two children, or that I have grey hairs in the brunette because even though Miss Clairol is wonderful and only she and I know how much grey I really have I earned those grey hairs, or be shamed because….You fill in the blank for whatever reason we as women allow ourselves to be shamed.

 

I will see myself as my husband sees me—as a beautiful woman he is attracted to. I will see myself as my son sees me—as the beautiful woman who gave him life. I will see myself as my daughter and grand-daughters see me—as a woman who is beautiful, caring, strong, and intelligent.

You probably need a new religion

Fifty dead, another fifty-three (the latest figures at the time of writing) injured. Another mass shooting, this time in a social club where members of the LBGT community were known to congregate. And, later the same morning, another man was arrested all the way across the country in a car loaded with explosives and weapons. He was on his way to a LGBT parade. Thank God he was stopped before he could carry out his blood-chilling acts of murder and destruction.

And, speaking of God, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about our ideas of God, that Higher Authority, Al’lah—whatever you call it. I’m not arguing whether there is or isn’t a Higher Power. What I have been questioning are the dogma and doctrines of some of our current religions. I’m not delving into the past for any of this, either.

If your religion, and by extension your view of that god within your religion, doesn’t view tolerance and acceptance as a fundamental right of all humanity, you probably need a new religion.

If your religion, and by extension your view of that god within your religion, claims to be the only correct manner to achieve paradise, you probably need a new religion.

If your religion, and by extension your view of that god within your religion, argues only your god is the one true god and insists on killing those who disagree with your god, you probably need a new religion.

If your religion, and by extension your view of that god within your religion, makes the claim that the being who gave life to you by carrying you for nine months within her body and under her heart is never equal to a male, you probably need a new religion.

If your religion, and by extension your view of that god within your religion, argues that a woman does not have a right to determine what to do with her own body but then turns a blind eye to born children living in poverty, with abuse, and in squalor, you probably need a new religion.

If your religion, and by extension your view of that god within your religion, argues that humanity has dominion over the earth rather than the caretakers of this planet, you probably need a new religion.

If your religion, and by extension your view of that god within your religion, argues that those who slur the religion’s prophets are to be put to death, you probably need a new religion.

If your religion, and by extension your view of that god within your religion, makes your beliefs the sole arbitrators of morality and decency, you probably need a new religion.

If your religion, and by extension your view of that god within your religion, promises you seventy two virgins, or fields of flowers, or spending eternity in a candy shop if you martyr yourself by slaughtering innocents, you probably need a new religion.

Religion is a good thing. Belief in a god is also a good thing. Religion and the many god and goddesses which have come from religion give comfort in times of sorrow, hope for a life after this life, precepts on living a moral and decent and compassionate life—but when any religion is twisted, bastardized, and corrupted to fit a certain world view, religion becomes the most dangerous weapon known to humanity.

How about, instead, we actually live the command we have been given—in every major world religion—to love one another as we love ourselves. Maybe, we could surprise ourselves with how gentler, more accepting, and tolerant the world might be.