‘I think you should start working out more.’ These are the words that should have stopped me in my tracks, turn around and challenge this accuser head-on. However, we were in the first month of our relationship and I was still very in love with this godlike being that chose me over the other well-built and well-painted girls.
‘You think so?’ I replied, abandoning the body confidence that took me 4 years to build after my constant yo-yo struggle with diets and eating disorders.
‘Yes, Babe. Imagine how sexy you would be then.’ He laughed, gave me a soft hug and kissed my head, as if to end the moment on a light note, making me feel loved and appreciated for the attention and advice he was giving me. Needless to say, I did start working out – vigorously. I lived for the moments he would cuddle with me, stop, and then compliment me on my new physique, as if he had anything to do with it.
Looking back at that picture I struggle to see the growing child feminist that decided no man will dictate her life. I struggle to see the girl who grew irritated with the girls in her high school constantly talking about doing this and that in order to ‘please’ their high school boyfriends, or in some cases, their recently graduated or working ones. I seem to have lost touched with this strong girl, and for what reason? Because I deemed myself lucky that the guy I had a crush on for years finally looked at me with interest?
Read also – 8 Hidden Truths about Confident Women
How do we get to this point? Why do we start putting ourselves away and start putting on this mask for the men in our lives? I am saddened when I walk in the streets and I see young girls, barely in high school, priming themselves as if going to an auction and they are the object being sold. They long for that look, that nod or wink of approval, that touch that will set their world on fire. How can we blame them?
We live in a society where everyone – men, women, boys and girls – is being brainwashed on what the definition of beauty and success is. If you don’t have it, you are disregarded as mediocre or unpleasant to the eye. You are marginalized and marked as a failure. Now, seeing as we have absolutely no control over our genes and how we look (naturally), how can this be fair?
I miss the girl that ran around freely in nature without a care in the world of what people thought of her – she only knew she was happy with herself and her life. What happened to the girl who had no desire to please anyone else but herself? And how can we get her back? This will help:
Learn that there is a difference between pleasing and helping others
It is an admirable quality to want to help others, and we do have to be the helping hands that guide and support the disadvantaged and the hurt – whether it be literally or figuratively. However, this does not mean you have to compromise who you are as a person and what you believe to be right and true.
Too many women sacrifice themselves believing that they are helping other women by becoming like them, believing that they can be the example once they have established acceptance and trust. Too many women are changing themselves to be accepted by a man who abuses them physically and emotionally, believing that once they have changed, he will change and start loving and appreciating them.
They won’t. You have got to distinguish when you are helping and when you are pleasing – there is a huge difference. Ultimately, it will define who exactly you are as a person and what you stand for.
Think about the person you were the last time you were happy. Become her
When was the last time you were truly happy with yourself and your life, with no inhibitions? For me, it was when I was running barefoot on the cool, green grass at my grandmother’s house. I had no cares in the world, I was completely free and I was completely me.
You have to find that girl within yourself: the one who was not afraid to take life by its horns and stare straight into its eyes. It is when you find her that you can tap into her essence and become her again.
I do not know when we decided that she was not good enough, but I do know that she never left us – she stood by our side through it all and she is waiting for us to claim her as our own again. She is waiting for us to become the women we were always meant to be.
Refuse submission under society’s pressure
Learn to accept yourself for the things that make you uniquely you. Be so confident in yourself and who you are as a person, that no opinion, no ill-advised comment or strange look can push you from the freedom peak of acceptance you find yourself at.
Yes, we know men and women alike are constantly analyzing and judging. So what? Do you really think they are the depiction of perfection just because they are mindlessly becoming clones of society? They are analyzing and judging because they have unresolved and buried insecurities within themselves, and the fact that you are able to express yourself and live in freedom from approval intimidates them. That is why gents, as well as ladies, often feel the need to make others feel smaller and insignificant compared to themselves, especially the ladies.
Women like to advertise the amount of attention they get, the amount of dates they go on and the amount of ‘haters’ they have. They advertise it like it is the Holy Grail for happiness, but do you really think they are happy? You have to ask yourself if a person can really find true happiness in transforming into and pursuing things that confirm that they are merely a copy of someone else’s accepted standard?
I see no peace, fulfillment, and happiness in this. I would know, for a little while I was one of these too and my conclusion on this venture is: pretending to be someone or something that you are not is too tedious, tiring and too intense for my liking – the inner toil you have to deal with within your mind and soul is not worth it.
Find a cause worth living for
Life is about so much more than the acceptance by others. We focus so hard on how we present ourselves and how others perceive us that we forget that this is not what life is about. How can this obsession be the purpose of our lives?
We have to find something bigger, something that carries more weight and something that is in alignment with our core values and beliefs, to live for. There is so much pain in the world and we have to have the unwavering conviction to help heal it, contribute to the well-being and the survival of its inhabitants.
It is only when our focus shifts to the deeper and cause-worthy external stimulus that we see that life is worth living, it is worth being thankful for, but most of all – it is worth fighting for.
Ladies, we have to be careful not to fall victim under the subliminal control of those afraid of our power. We have got to the point where we once again become the pillars of society that were once so fought for in the various waves of feminism. We not only owe it to ourselves, but also to the world.
Amanda Charles, a fellow activist for social and racial justice, said the following, “The view society has of women being nothing but sexual beings there to pleasure, satisfy and cater to men and all their needs is not only troubling but it is a direct attempt by heterosexual men to keep their power in society. Imagine the world where women didn’t care about men. Their masculinity would be so shaken, I suspect some would even end up in comas.”
I believe the time to shake up some masculinity has arrived. My question is: Would you care to join me?