I just want to take a moment to thank you all who commented on my last post with your words of encouragement. It means a lot to me.
A few weeks ago, I ran across this article. Basically, a female college student was being bullied online because of the fact that she has facial hair that she does not shave, wax or bleach. The first time I looked at the picture, and not having read anything on it, I did think Balpreet Kaur was a young man. She does, in fact, have a lot of facial hair. When I realized that she was a woman, and took a second look, I could see that she was a woman: the style of the turban, the eyeglasses, the yoga pants and the flip flops are giveaways.
Anyway, it seems that other folks who saw the picture took the opportunity to be terribly mean and hurl taunts and insults about Ms. Kaur. What touched me about the whole story, though, was her response:
"My attitude and thoughts and actions have more value in them than my body… by not focusing on the physical beauty, I have time to cultivate those inner virtues and hopefully, focus my life on creating change and progress for this world in any way I can."
She did not run and hide: she stood up for herself and she did it in a way that was strong and that commanded respect. She could because of her the strength of her convictions. Convictions with which, by the way, I heartily agree. Oh, I seriously respect this young lady. It is not easy to stand up like that--when who you are is like the polar opposite of what society expects and even demands.
I thought it was interesting too, this bullying of women online because of their physical traits because a short time later, I ran across this story of Jennifer Livingston, the news reporter who stood up to bullies who were talking about her weight.
I mean, it's obvious that women in our society are still valued primarily because of how we look. At least in mainstream media, that is certainly the case. I know that I myself have bought into some of these ideals. Bought in far more than I would have liked to. And I am sure some of that buy in is because I was mercilessly bullied about my looks as a child. So now the work is undoing that buy in. As such, I appreciate these women standing up proud to say, "Hey, it is not all about how you look."
At the same time . . . this past year that I have been eating a paleo diet, I have also been learning as much as I can about what it means to be truly healthy. I mean, at this point, I can answer even some technical questions about how the body functions and how the body dysfunctions. And the fact of the matter is that women with a lot of facial hair and women who are obese have some kind of dysfunction going on. Does that sound harsh? I guess but there it is. (The fact that I have such severe allergies is also a dysfunction. I mean, you're just not supposed to be gripped with serial sneezes just because you go outside.) Typically, women shouldn't grow that much facial hair. If it's happening, there's an imbalance somewhere, probably hormonal. And for many if not all folks who are obese (not just carrying a little extra here and there), the hormones are also out of whack and metabolism, i.e. the way the body uses and handles energy is not balanced. To me, this makes the fact that they were bullied even more awful because so much of the time, the things folks are taunted for are not always things they can control.
So what does that mean? It just engenders a serious sort of compassion and admiration, I think. These women may or may not know that something is wrong inside but I suspect they do. But there is such an acceptance and encompassing self-love that they embody that makes me admire them. And really motivates me to keep on working on self-love. No matter what my post-partum belly looks like.
I've spoken about santosha before and this concept just seems to keep on coming back around for me. I mean, it doesn't mean you stop trying to be better. I doesn't mean you stop trying to bring things into balance. I don't think acceptance means throwing in the towel. Like, I wouldn't begrudge Ms. Kaur looking into ways to get her body to stop producing facial hair or Ms. Livingston any efforts to lose weight. Acceptance doesn't mean throwing in the towel. It just means saying, "Okay, I'm here right now and that is okay. It doesn't mean I will be here forever but since I am here right now, let me be the best I can be right now."