Sometimes I come across something I cannot wait to share. I was listening to a talk given by Dr. Ranata Forste to women about sustaining each other in righteous choices. All I could think of was what a concept!! Imagine this, I make a life decision and other women would view my choice and say...."brilliant!!", and I would react this way....."thank you, thank you very much."
Think about that....women supporting each other? I find pockets of support among women in my life and I cherish it. Women who don't care about my politics, my lifestyle, my religion...they just care that I am a friend.
Dr. Forste's ideas and observations were so good, so crystal clear I have to share...
God (and please don't get hung up on the God thing, substitute whatever works for you) wants us all to return to him, but not necessarily in a straight line. In other words being different is good, we are not the same and no one expects us to be all the same.
Selfishness will begin to destroy sharing which destroys unity. Bring your talents, your gifts, your individuality so that we can be one.
Dr. Forste went on to recount a message she gleaned from commercials during an evening spent watching TV.....she found that...
Our skin isn't smooth enough
Our hair isn't shiny enough
and a message loud and clear is we are not thin enough
Our floors aren't clean enough
our clothes aren't white enough and neither are our teeth
And our children aren't quite happy enough
The message is women need help.
Now contrast that to what men need according to an evening spent watching TV:
A big truck
lots of light beer
a big screen TV for watching sports
and a call to their doctor if they think their love life needs improving
Do you see a problem here?
The message men receive is, have a good time, Spend your hard earned money on leisure, fast cars, watching sports and drinking beer.
Advertising motivates women to buy out of guilt, or a need to achieve some socially constructed idea of perfection. Men on the other hand are encouraged to buy things for pleasure.
Dr. Forste then read a rather famous Dave Barry column from 1998
If you're a man, at some point a woman will ask you how she looks.
''How do I look?'' she'll ask.
You must be careful how you answer this question. The best technique is to form an honest yet sensitive opinion, then collapse on the floor with some kind of fatal seizure. Trust me, this is the easiest way out. Because you will never come up with the right answer.
The problem is that women generally do not think of their looks in the same way that men do. Most men form an opinion of how they look in seventh grade, and they stick to it for the rest of their lives. Some men form the opinion that they are irresistible stud muffins, and they do not change this opinion even when their faces sag and their noses bloat to the size of eggplants and their eyebrows grow together to form what appears to be a giant forehead-dwelling tropical caterpillar.
Most men, I believe, think of themselves as average-looking. Men will think this even if their faces cause heart failure in cattle at a range of 300 yards. Being average does not bother them; average is fine, for men. This is why men never ask anybody how they look. Their primary form of beauty care is to shave themselves, which is essentially the same form of beauty care that they give to their lawns.
If, at the end of his four-minute daily beauty regimen, a man has managed to wipe most of the shaving cream out of his hair and is not bleeding too badly, he feels that he has done all he can, so he stops thinking about his appearance and devotes his mind to more critical issues, such as the Super Bowl.
Women do not look at themselves this way. If I had to express, in three words, what I believe most women think about their appearance, those words would be: ''not good enough.'' No matter how attractive a woman may appear to be to others, when she looks at herself in the mirror, she thinks: woof.
She thinks that at any moment a municipal animal-control officer is going to throw a net over her and haul her off to the shelter.
Why do women have such low self-esteem? There are many complex psychological and societal reasons, by which I mean Barbie. Girls grow up playing with a doll proportioned such that, if it were a human, it would be seven feet tall and weigh 81 pounds, of which 53 pounds would be bosoms.
This is a difficult appearance standard to live up to, especially when you contrast it with the standard set for little boys by their dolls ... excuse me, by their action figures. Most of the action figures that my son played with when he was little were hideous-looking. For example, he was very fond of an action figure (part of the He-Man series) called ''Buzz-Off,'' who was part human, part flying insect. Buzz-Off was not a looker. But he was extremely self-confident. You could not imagine Buzz-Off saying to the other action figures: ``Do you think these wings make my hips look big?''
But women grow up thinking they need to look like Barbie, which for most women is impossible, although there is a multibillion-dollar beauty industry devoted to convincing women that they must try. I once saw an Oprah show wherein supermodel Cindy Crawford dispensed makeup tips to the studio audience. Cindy had all these middle-aged women applying beauty products to their faces; she stressed how important it was to apply them in a certain way, using the tips of their fingers. All the woman dutifully did this, even though it was obvious to any sane observer that, no matter how carefully they applied these products, they would never look remotely like Cindy Crawford, who is some kind of genetic mutation.
I'm not saying that men are superior. I'm just saying that you're not going to get a group of middle-aged men to sit in a room and apply cosmetics to themselves under the instruction of Brad Pitt, in hopes of looking more like him. Men would realize that this task was pointless and demeaning. They would find some way to bolster their self-esteem that did not require looking like Brad Pitt. They would say to Brad: ``Oh YEAH? Well what do you know about LAWN CARE, pretty boy?''
Of course, many women will argue that the reason they become obsessed with trying to look like Cindy Crawford is that men, being as shallow as a drop of spit, WANT women to look that way. To which I have two responses:
1. Hey, just because WE'RE idiots, that doesn't mean YOU have to be; and
2. Men don't even notice 97 percent of the beauty efforts you make anyway. Take fingernails. The average woman spends 5,000 hours per year worrying about her fingernails; I have never once, in more than 40 years of listening to men talk about women, heard a man say, ''She has a nice set of fingernails!'' Many men would not notice if a woman had upward of four hands.
Anyway, to get back to my original point: If you're a man, and a woman asks you how she looks, you're in big trouble. Obviously, you can't say she looks bad. But you also can't say that she looks great, because she'll think you're lying, because she has spent countless hours, with the help of the multibillion-dollar beauty industry, obsessing about the differences between herself and Cindy Crawford. Also, she suspects that you're not qualified to judge anybody's appearance. This is because you have shaving cream in your hair. (Dave Barry - Beauty and the Beast 1998)
Between Dr. Forste and Dave Barry I saw yet again that women (and of course, me) are simply too hard on themselves. We have heard this message one million times, but we keep piling it on. We keep wondering why we aren't thin, or wrinkle free....why aren't we sunning on the beach or walking the red carpet? When will we understand that we are comparing ourselves to something that does not even exist. I once had a very close friendship (we just played tennis) with a male celebrity who had an onscreen persona of a family man and really good guy. Actually he was a lecherous degenerate who was routinely unfaithful to his wife. I know that what we are sold and told is not real and yet I continue to fall for it.
Here is what I hear in my head, "Why aren't I perfect? Why didn't I accomplish x,y and z today?" My planner said I could, my list screamed at me - daring me to fail. And then laughing when I came up short. Came up short? Do you hear that?
Why aren't I perfect? Because I was never supposed to be perfect.
Women are NOT supposed to be perfect. Men have figured that out about themselves. Perfection to them comes in the form of a wave, a steak or a cigar.
What if we could lighten up as women, if we could give each other a break, then maybe we could give ourselves a break.
What if we could see, I mean really see that we are all different, with different qualities, gifts and talents....because some of us can sing, or write or cook. But then some of us are not very good leaders, or we are as organized as a food fight....alone we are far from perfect, but together, together we can be perfect.
I lean on my friends who can do things I cannot do. I applaud their choices, but remember the mommy wars? If you stayed home with your children it was because you couldn't do anything else, and if you worked you were selfish.....if you chose natural child birth you received a battlefield promotion, but if you gave formula to your baby then someone needed to call child protective services. I hope we have put those things to rest, because none of it really mattered. I nursed all of my children with an implied contract with nature that they would be perfect, but they aren't. And my friends who worked had children who grew up to be perfectly fine people. And these same women are now enjoying pensions and retirement. We all did the best we could with the tools we had, we didn't need to compare and compete. It's true we are not perfect individually, but together we can be perfect.
Which leads me to my next thought which is, all of us can fly if we will just get out of our own way. I want to challenge you to do something you never thought you could do. Stretch and reach and grow and become a person you never thought you could be. Become the person God sees.....don't settle for your own vision.
What do you dream about? That you could be a writer? An actress? An entrepreneur? Do you want an orchard or a beehive? Do you want to surf or be a motivational speaker? Maybe you want to teach yoga or math.....so, set aside 1 hour a week to pursue your dream. Then watch that dream grow, it might even morph into something better!
Set aside 1 Hour a week to pursue your dream. This is an invitation to change your life.
Let's do it!!