Monday, July 29, 2013

Creative Cleanse

survive vs. createby ~HarlowPhotography

A few months ago I challenged myself to commit to days of writing for 21 days in a row as part of an assignment for my Psychology of Addiction class in an effort to learn how to replace an unhealthy habit, (procrastination), with a productive one. I learned more from my "relapse" than my actual writing because I realized what it was that would make me procrastinate. I was so proud and excited that I went 33 days after starting over (post-relapse) of writing consistently. What I realized during this process was that it wasn't enough time to gain a greater idea of my greatest passion. Or maybe it proved that I have multiple passions and I just need to figure out a way to integrate them into one cohesive mix. I mean, I am the glue but what does that mean for me and my future?

The other day I came across this blog, Creative Rehab: The Beginning is Near where she made a commitment to create something every single day for 365 days in an effort to cleanse herself of the past and work towards her future while remaining present in recognizing the beauty in each day and documenting it.
      They say you have to vomit first, vomit your demons and your rage, your mediocre beasts, vomit the sinner and the saint and all duality, vomit your ego and your bruises, ’til the house gets so clean, there’s nothing, no one left—but you.

     Just like we detox our body from years of malnourishment, and we agonize as all the toxins in the underworld say their goodbyes and leave our system, so it is the case not only with our minds but with the way we face our lives. Our modus operandi for anything is the same as for everything.

Alright, fair enough but it seems all I have done is purge and the more I purge the deeper the layers seem to get so it seems to me that at some point it's time to begin rebuilding new layers. It seems reasonable to know when you're ready to do that without sacrificing the work of detoxing, right? I mean, if I was going to do a physical detox I would still nourish my body with healthier foods and supplements so why not begin nourishing my mind, heart, and spirit with nourishment? 
Another thing I need to remember is to be patient with myself and my journey. There was another excerpt from the above mentioned blog that really struck me:

      Didn’t we, as children, have to crawl before we got up on our feet? Crawling is one of life’s mandatory and most necessary homework assignments. So get over your adult lies and down on your knees. The floor is beautiful. 

That's the thing though, I was never allowed to crawl as a baby! I was punished if I touched the floor and was forced to learn to walk at four months. Imagine how that affected how my brain developed... No wonder I have spent my life trying so hard to skip the steps and growing impatient and remaining lost and confused during the crawling phases... I NEVER LEARNED HOW TO CRAWL!
So my main goal with this project is to learn how to crawl. I am constantly grasping for solid objects around me to stabilize and support me because I was never given the opportunity to learn about and develop my core strength; no wonder I'm all over the place! This is my chance so I'm taking it. What better way to harness my focus and talents than by doing what I love most and am most passionate about, art and creative expression!

 I will commit to an image and writing around a minimum of 75 words a day unless I take the picture, then I will keep the words simpler. I will document this journey on my Tumblr account as I believe that it's the most appropriate setting for this type of a project. I figure I'm less likely to relapse since I would have to start over with 365 more days ahead of me! Yikes! I guess starting now means my last goal was effective in working out my procrastination issues. Ha! 

May the force be with me!!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mystification of Boobology

Boob Mouthby ~AxeField

I recently wrote a blog about the fascination we have with breasts... at least from my personal experience and perspective, (read Are Your Breasts Real? to get caught up). I have to say that the reason I decided to write about the importance of breasts in our society - the final straw so-to-speak was the article, It's 2013, and Women Are Still Their Breasts. The writer spends a lot of time criticizing Justin Timberlake's video, Tunnel Vision, (the version I linked is the explicit version). My main issue with the video is that he's singing to one woman, (or so it seemed to me), and has multiple dancers; however, the dancers are all built like his wife who I'm sure appreciates the artistic expression behind JT's videos since she's an artist herself in her own right. The author of the article expressed concern over how this type of entertainment affects society and its view of women. Does she have a point? Sure. But I think that there are people who are going to exploit whatever a person creates or does to express themselves in order to suit their own agenda. Take the Bible for example, how many versions and interpretations of these ancient writings are out there? And we're going to throw a fit about a music video that in my opinion is pretty artistically done. And to insinuate at the end of the article that there are bully, woman hating men using women as an inside joke is ridiculous. If that were the case, the writer wouldn't have so much to say about it in the first place.

I have a feeling the dancers in JT's video got paid well for their appearance in the video. Who am I to say that they aren't embracing true womanhood or their inner "goddess" by choosing to participate in this video? How is it that the assumption is made that the men involved in this video were the only ones with a say on who was in the video and what they did? Are we assuming that women have no choice at all? It seems to me that this assumption is more dangerous than a woman appearing nude by choice in an artistic endeavor. If I was one of those dancers I would be thrilled to know that the female form was being celebrated in such a tasteful way, (because for a popular music video, this is the most tasteful way to introduce full nudity I have ever seen). When I see this video I see an appreciation not an exploitation but maybe that's just me and the fact that I don't see the need to assume the worst in everything.

 I wanted to give another extreme of how breasts are used to "manipulate" society, (hypothetically assuming that's what is actually happening). Is anyone watching what's going on with the female members of FEMEN? These women are being thrown in prisons for protesting topless; they use their breasts to make a statement. Are they a little extreme? To some, yes but they know the power of breasts and they're using it to their advantage, (at least from their perspective). I am not interested in getting into the political details of this topic I just want to prove a point; everything has exactly the type of meaning and the amount of value that we give it.

I understand the power of seduction and I know the difference between being seductive, sensual, and sexual. Maybe the problem our society really has is that the common assumption is that these are all the same but they are not which takes me back to a vlog and blog I posted on my website about sex and intimacy, Is Sex The Worst That Can Happen? Instead of focusing on the media and entertainers, why not spend that energy on empowering our children? Or educating anyone who will listen the value of "the dance" within attraction, the artistic beauty of the human form, what intimacy truly is as well as what sex is and what it isn't.

In summation, I am a bit mystified by some women that assume other women do not appreciate or respect their bodies just because they make different choices with them. Maybe the choices are from a lack of respect but criticizing it certainly isn't going to give them self-respect and what if your wrong and a woman loves and respects her body so much she feels confident showing more of it than others? How do you know the difference? Do you even need to know the difference? And lastly, it's foolish to start bashing on men regarding this, that's only going to perpetuate a whole other pattern that isn't healthy. If we as women want to be respected than we need to respect ourselves and one another and give men a reason to respect us and stop whining and playing the victim.*

I will leave you with this video released of a young girl who is brave enough to appreciate her own beauty and self-worth despite what her family has planned for her. If an 11 year old girl can take responsibility for her own life, (even though she shouldn't have to), how much more so should we as adults be doing the same and stop crying about how other people express themselves and exhausting energy into criticizing other people who aren't likely to change but instead take responsibility for our own lives and bodies and be an example to our children and other people... After all, actions do speak louder than words.

*As someone who has suffered abuse and victimization I can say with confidence that I am obviously speaking in generalities and any cases of abuse, manipulation, exploitation, and the like are not included in my argument.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Are Your Breasts Real?

Mechanical ~cruelcouture

This may surprise you but I actually appreciate when someone asks me this question because to me it means that they aren't willing to speculate or gossip but respect me enough to ask me directly. I usually respond with something like, "Yes, my breasts are real and so are the saline implants I have inside them." What is "real" anyway? And I'm not simply asking that question as a Matrix fan, I really want to know what real means to you. Do my breasts define how genuine of a person I am? 

Once I'm asked this question I soon begin to wonder if women who have had to have breast reconstruction due to fighting breast cancer get asked the same question and what it must be like for the person asking to hear that this woman has implants because she went through the trauma of losing her breasts to cancer. I mean, fighting the trauma of breast cancer is something everyone can get behind, support fighting, and declare as a trauma that needs to be dealt with but what about those of us who have known traumas that are quieter than breast cancer? Trauma is anything that overwhelms our system whether emotionally, physically, psychologically, etc. so who's to say that one trauma is more valid to get treatment than another? Now in NO WAY am I belittling dis/ease or illness such as cancer, I have lost loved ones to cancer. Cancer is a terrible disease and I am simply using it as an example of how our society can be selective about what traumas it rallies around. Do we judge women differently for choosing to get reconstructive surgery or not when they have experienced any kind of physical trauma?

I felt deformed after I breastfed my infant for 10 months. I felt deformed and struggled with feelings of shame and inner conflict wondering if it was worse to be what others would view as vain or even "slutty" by getting implants or to just live my life struggling to feel good about my body and wearing the scars of motherhood proudly because I knew that this would be a life long struggle... You see, when I was a little girl I was in an accident that had mutilated my body in a way that made doctors turn away and refuse to treat me for eight years so all through puberty I felt deformed and ugly. No one could see my scars or the damage from the accident but the scars were there, externally and internally so my puberty was riddled with this trauma defining me along with being a general outcast for being "ugly", "skinny like an Ethiopian", "weird", "nerdy", "hairy", having "four eyes", and just plain different for reasons I don't need to list.

I was just getting comfortable with my body as I awakened as a woman for the first few months of marriage before finding out I was pregnant seven months into my marriage. After breastfeeding my infant for 10 wonderful months I stood in the mirror looking at these empty and useless bags hanging on my chest at the age of 21... These empty sacks looking like week old party balloons no one took down off the wall when the party was over, I was right back in my childhood all over again and nothing anyone else would say to reassure me helped.

When my son was seven I finally was brave enough to get breast augmentation and I began to feel like myself again. It's alright if you don't understand why this was so important to me, I don't need you to understand. What I do want and the reason I am bringing this up is because breasts have been in the news a lot lately, or at least, I have been hyper-aware of it lately. Breasts, (on women anyway), are commonly seen as a definition of how sexually proficient a woman may be and I can say from experience, if a woman isn't confident in her breasts it may have an affect on her sexual satisfaction at no fault of her partner, (although partners are frequently blamed, I believe women ultimately hold the power and control over their orgasm but that subject is for later).

My next blog will have some examples/comparisons to demonstrate how revered breasts are in our culture along with why I wonder if this power is a "good" thing, a "bad" thing, or something that has as much value as we give it as individuals and society. Follow this blog or subscribe anonymously by email to see the examples and join the discussion as it's posted. In the meantime, ponder how important other women's breasts are to you, how often you have labeled or judged breasts and why. And please feel free to share your opinions on why you think breasts are so important to our culture in the comment section below.

Breastsby ~shadylady91