Iron Maiden

I’ve been reading Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth and discovering some interesting things about society’s perpetuation of women as objects. What I have understood, so far, is that women are only as worthwhile as their ability to adhere to societal standards. This is: THIN and BEAUTIFUL and MADE-UP and COMPLACENT… We are only as powerful as we look.

Unfortunately, this is not how the world is supposed to work. And, in some ways, I don’t think it works that way everywhere, but this concept attaches itself to young impressionable minds and it festers and grows like a cancer, destroying their self-esteem and hope and faith in themselves.

I wanted to be thin to be invisible, not to be as society wanted me. I had wanted to hide in my locker in junior high. I had wanted to fade into the background… Yet, I wanted someone to ask me how I was.

Eating disorders are their own creature a
nd vary with reasons between each person. I still think, to this day, that if I weigh 150 pounds or more, I am more susceptible to being victimized. Too big and too slow to fight back. A lower weight was reinforced after I was victimized by another man in college (a fellow student who played soccer on the intramural team). I never reported it. I was smart enough to keep zipping my pants every time he let go of my hands. Then, I weighed even less and was purging multiple times a day. I shut down a bathroom with my purging. YES! That happens. Food, excessive amounts, clogs toilets and makes them overflow.

I thought if I was just thinner, I would not have been as attractive. I thought that I would be stronger. I did yoga every morning, walked while reading, organized my days into 15-minute intervals, and tried to only eat “good” and “safe” foods. I still threw them up afterward.

I am currently in recovery, but still struggling. My weight is the highest it has ever been—thanks to medicines and depression and other health conditions—and it scares me. I cannot help but wonder if I will be considered easy bait.

 

Many other women engage in these behaviors to fit societal ideals. They think they will be accepted if they are thin. This is true. I experienced it. I was considered more worthwhile when I was thin; I was considered disciplined and level-headed. I was successful. I pretended to be jovial and fun-loving and was complacent to society’s expectations of me; underneath, I loathed myself because I knew I would never quite be good enough. I was trapped in the Iron Maiden, steadily suffocating on my diseases and societal norms.

So, how does one challenge this?

Flower in A Wishing Well
Be A Flower in a Wishing Well

First, I need to learn to love myself and make goals for myself that are not dictated by photoshopped magazines. I need to find reasons to love myself. I need to remind myself that I am worthwhile and not defined by my disease or my need for treatment. I need to learn balance: balance between my needs and what the world needs of me.

 

This Is NOT for You, or Me!

Society’s rules are not for you, or me.

A little bit different post today…

As I am on vacation, I am discussing with my friend how women are currently portrayed in the gaming world. Sometimes, it is well… other times, they are ignored and considered minor characters in adventure games.

I like a classic shooting game, puzzle game, games that challenge me. Most of these games are dominated by male characters. As my friend told me in regards to starting to play one game: “This game is not for me.”

How ridiculous is that?

My favorite game of all time is Tomb Raider. Why? Because what girl doesn’t like to be a bad-ass, who carries a desert eagle and shotgun and shoots all the bad guys. Oh. And by the way, I also want to be able to challenge wild animals who view me as their next meal. She rocks and, as a result, I do too. Unfortunately, these games are not as prevalent as male-dominated games.

I may be a huge anti-machismo feminist. I tend to shoot other players in the crotch in shooting games. Oopsie! My brothers always comment that they don’t like to play with me for that reason. This is probably a result of my animosity toward men in general. It does not help that the games are male dominated and have unlikely female characters.

Is it no wonder that women have little faith in their ability to do some things and that men belittle women? I recognize that all men do not do this and that there are strong women out there who fight for themselves. Media does not always support this.

As I have gone through my life, I have learned so many thingsabout the roles of women. When I was 12, I wanted to be a minister. While this was appreciated, I was informed that I would be a great missionary and could serve in a group. My friend from childhood was a missionary and had to comply with the rules that said she was less than men, according to those social expectations. At the time, I thought that made sense, but as I have grown older and remember some of these things, I am frustrated by society’s insistence that women are less than men. This is not true of every media source, or society, but prevalent enough for women to accept that their role is not as equal as men’s.

As I have gone through my life, I have pushed myself to expand my boundaries. When I was younger, I thought that if I wasn’t pretty and thin, I had to be intelligent, except people don’t like intelligent, so I had to be average to be liked, except teachers wanted me to reach my full potential, but my classmates felt I was a “brown-noser.” So, what is a girl to do? Smile. Agree. Be demure. Be vapid. Be nothing.

So, that is what I was. Deep down, I loathed it. I wanted to be accepted so badly, but I was never quite perfect enough. This is how self-esteem gets destroyed in young women. This is why young women think they are blessed and special when a man pays attention to them.

My latest relationship ended badly about 5 months ago. We started off honest enough, but he made it clear that he felt intimidated by my reading and writing. So, I stopped talking about some of my interests. He, on the other hand, intimidated me with his religiosity and made me feel less. Another point of contention was the fact that I was in treatment. I did not realize how integrated these views were to him until we broke up and he wrote me a two page letter to explain how I did not deserve him. It was also apparent when he bashed my treatment and explained that one shouldn’t eat more than three meals a day.

What has the world taught me about being a woman?

That no matter what… I will never be good enough.

THIS IS BUNK!

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I am good enough. I am my own person. I have the right to be intelligent and not perfect. I am worthwhile, whether or not I have a mental illness, have brains, am average, have an imperfect body, or am just not what the world expects of me.

 

Society’s expectations of perfection and how to exist are not for you, or for me.

Let us remember this.