Last week, I started exploring finding sacred space in our bodies. I took a brief look at the need for sacred space because of the large influence of Western Christianity on our society and the world. Additionally, the groundwork was laid for a holistic view of our bodies as sexual beings and the unity of being.
Today, I will be speaking to the point of women and body image. I will be using images, factoids, and spoken word to make the point for healing our body image and considering our bodies sacred space
The problem: Pretty
- Dark skin
- Dark hair
- Crooked noses
- Or short
- I’d like to point out that even women I consider quite beautiful such as Beyonce, often have their skin “lightened” in Photoshop for magazine covers. I am sure this is the editor’s choice.
- Vanity Fair magazine did a survey of who the most beautiful woman is in 2009 and Angelina Jolie won by a wide margin. I believe that she fits all of these categories, especially the sexualized presentation of women.
Often, in the media, sexualized women are used for no apparent reason. In this advertisement that popped up one day while I was working on research for this presentation, there is this woman presenting her legs and high heels…for an advertisement about school grants.
Popular media has a freedom to make fun of what pretty isn’t…whether it is fat, short, old, or freckled. Here Tyra Banks is being called fat. She is a role model for young women across America whether we like it or not. If people are associating fat with her and calling her ugly and disgusting, what does that do to our young women that admire her?
And now a personal story…
This is my my child Colin and his cousin Casey, my niece. These two kids both consider themselves fat at this time. Colin was afraid to wear “skinny jeans” because he thinks they make him look fat so he hides his body behind baggy basketball shorts and sweatshirts. Casey is in the same boat. They already don’t like their bodies.
Even models are not thin enough. Ralph Lauren ran this ad with this image in Japan. They then fired Filippa Hamilton for “breach of contract” which she says is because she was too big.
Here, Dove bravely shows us the evolution of beauty:
Here is the list of the Maxim Hot 100. Women and girls measure themselves against this list and this standard of beauty thinking it will bring
- And Self Worth
This is death dealing to our young women.
- Teenagers who THINK they are overweight are at a higher risk of suicide.
- Over 35 million people in the U.S. have an eating disorder of some kind…anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating. A huge percentage of these people are women. Up 95% of the people with anorexia or bulimia are women and 65% of people with a binge eating disorder are women. Or girls.
- Eating disorders cause early onset of disease and illness.
- This is being driven down to an earlier age…over 80% of 10 year olds fear being fat.
- Again, this is death dealing. Young women are dying from eating disorders.
Just to contrast, Measuring against this standard of beauty actually brings
- Sexual Disorder
- Self Hatred
- Self Mutilation
- Eating Disorders
- And Suicide
Popular music is no better. Here is an offensive song by the Macc Lads called “Ugly Women.” The lyrics include:
Thank God for ugly women, all the boilers bags and trolls, Just so they could get a shag they invented alcohol.
Speaking of self-mutilation and to that which Kathy Makkai spoke of so poignantly in her poem, nearly 1.2 cosmetic surgeries done for non-medical reasons were done in 2008.
Ridiculously, this is now being marketed in children’s books. There is a book called, “My Beautiful Mommy” available on amazon.
But there is good news! Our young women are changing and the world is moving into a place where we can consider our bodies and body image, sacred space.
Again, what’s theology got to do with it?
- Body/Spirit dualism allows objectification (Kelly Brown Douglas)
- Objectification leads to disembodiment in the sense of our body as unholy other
- When we are disembodied, we can no longer connect to creation (Sally McFague)
- When we are disembodied, we can no longer connect to the other (Mayra Rivera)
- When we are disembodied, we can no longer connect to the other within our self (extrapolated from Mayra Rivera)
- We can neither connect to immanence nor transcendence
Without immanence (experiencing our bodies) or
transcendence (experiencing the other),
we lose our sense of sacred.
And we become a befuddled mess. My hope and prayer is that you will hear the prophetic words of Kathy Makkai and the Girl’s Making Media and declare your body and your body image sacred space.
Can I get an Amen?
References are here.