Who Defines You? Defying Images, Ideals, and Icons

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Defy the images. Define yourself.
We live in a time when we are constantly bombarded with images, ideas, and sound bites that tell us who we should be, could be, and ought to be. Unless you live in a cave, you can’t escape their massive barrage, and let’s face it, even from a cave you could probably still get text messages. Think of all you see in a day … from photos of what you should look like, to features on what you should be doing to have better sex, bodies and careers, to the ten tips on how to do everything from have a better garden to become a yogini or to raise your kids right. It can make your head spin: “Am I supposed to be Martha Stewart, Hilary Clinton, and Angelina Jolie all at the same time?” It can make your self-judging gremlins go wild, “My thighs are too big. I hate my cellulite. I should have a bigger bank account, better sex life, and more time in the day to accomplish it all.” Even on the days when we are in super self-awareness mode and we can pick and choose what impacts us, we still have to ask, “Why is it that in today’s world, a woman is still judged first by her body and her relationship, instead of her mind and soul?” If you have any doubts, just ask yourself, why are we still talking about Jennifer and Brad … why is Jessica Simpson’s weight a top news story … and why are we debating the first lady’s arms?” 

Be wise.
The good news is, we live in a time of great transition—the whole world is changing right in front of our eyes, and we can either sit by and watch it change … we can either let ourselves be defined by someone else’s images, ideals, or expectations, or we can stand up and claim who we want to be as a woman in the 21st century. We might only be nine years into this century, but when you look around at the inspiring images of today’s women, two words stand out: choice and independence.

At this time in our world, no one defines me but me … unless we let them. No one has the right to judge me … unless we listen. With choice and independence riling in our souls, we each have the power to claim, “I am me, without apology, and without caving into someone else’s image of who I ‘should’ be. I love who I am and am proud to be her.” With nothing but possibility in front of us, as we watch the “old” ways of doing things crumble around us, we have the opportunity to make new choice that ultimately will define the reality of being a woman in today’s world. So when you step into that world and get bombarded with images and ideals, remember that it is your responsibility to pick and choose what you want to use as inspiration and what you want to leave behind in the dumpster. It is in the choice that we each make in how we define ourselves … in how we define other women around us … that will shape what it means to be a woman in today’s world. That is the kind of power we all have.

Dare—be you. Declare yourself.
Claim the woman you are right now by finding five images and five words that express you at your essence. Put these images and words together on a board or on paper and put it up where you can see it every day. Dare your friends to do the same. Share what you’ve each declared.

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