The Importance of Authenticity, and How to Deal With Societal ExpectationsJune 5, 2014

men_women
Lately I have been thinking about people put in boxes. There are a lot of different boxes to be put in, but I think the most troublesome of all is the gender box (which encompasses body politics and behavioural cues). I’ve seen a couple videos circulating that so accurately describe the problems of society’s boxes.

Laci Green is a genius that recognizes the importance of breaking down sexuality. Here is a video that articulates the difference between how women’s and men’s bodies and skills are judged and valued.

This incredible story of a family recognizing, acknowledging, and embracing the needs of their transgendered child had me bawling. If only this kind of love and acceptance were more widespread, not just with our children (but most importantly so!) but with everyone we meet and interact with. I thank the Whittington’s for sharing this video.

Another reason for my writing this post is the increase in cat calls and harassing behaviour that inevitably accompanies the warm weather wardrobe. I could write a whole other blog post about the entitlement some people have in regards to their opinion on other people’s bodies and their perceived right to comment. The unnecessary discomfort of being in your own skin simply because you’re a woman is another modern torture box that stifles well-being and self-worth. The recent news of the Elliot Roger massacre led to the #yesallwomen hashtag outlining the frightening psychological state of the world.

Authenticity: To be true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.(from Merriam-Webster)
Brene Brown hosts this on point TED Talks.
If you don’t feel like watching the 20 minutes of speaking, here is what I took from it:
The importance of authenticity is love and belonging. Authenticity is required for connection, which I believe all humans strive for. BUT it requires vulnerability to show your true self. It would be so much easier for people to live authentically in the world if we were more allowed to make mistakes and have a chance to learn from them. When we believe that we are enough, we can stop pretending and striving to be someone else’s idea of perfect. This is an impossible goal, and it’s stressing us all out.

In cultures all over the world there are definite expectations for “masculine” and “feminine” behaviours, and little recognition of the elastic flexibility of a gender continuum. Regardless of the sex organs we were born with, I believe every human has both masculine and feminine tendencies, to varying degrees. I think at some point in time, we all must feel forced to act or look a certain way, because of outside forces. We can feel these pressures through the clothes offered in stores, the comments people make on our appearances, and our own internalization of the messages society feeds us about our worth. I wish people would stop listening to what the outside world wants them to be, and start reflecting on and tuning in to what actually makes them happy.

In the same vein, can we do the same for others? Can we all just chill out about other peoples appearances!? I don’t understand how someone else’s body, face, gender presentation, or personal style can offend another person so much that they would say words about it. To me, that is the most incredibly rude behaviour, to scorn a person for being themselves. How someone else looks is none of your business, whether you disagree with their physical shape or what they chose to wear. You can be certain, it’s not for you. The words we say out loud have resonating effects, and negative hurtful comments are far more often remembered than the positive. This also applies to the words we say to ourselves about ourselves.

In general, what I want to communicate here is a need for respect, towards ourselves and others. We all have unique relationships with the world that stress us out in different ways. Embrace what you have been given and give others the space to be themselves. Everybody is fine just the way they are. Physically take care of your body because it does so much work for you. Honour your personal convictions and live in the way that feels right for you. Make a concerted effort to mock less, especially in front of children. The messages we are sending are ones of judgment, and of the necessity to conform to another’s standards.

This is in part why I do what I do. I want to celebrate the diverse shapes of humans, and fulfill their specific needs of self expression. The effect on our mentality when we feel we are being authentically represented in the best light, is magical.

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