Flashes of Empowerment

I watched a segment on the Today show about the new ground-breaking advertising that Dove is doing to promote “natural beauty.” It was now that there were naked pictures of women above the age of 50. (See, they seem to say, consumerism and empowerment can walk hand-in-hand!) So “shocking”, so “empowering”…and yet, have we no other news? …At least this feeds the blogging engine.

And while I have read, heard, and uttered other rants about this advertisement is trying to cause social change, I think about what has formed my idea of femininity up to now.

I think to Angelina Jolie in Firefox. She had short unkempt hair, the simple short-sleeved, one color T-shirt, simple flat boots, and black jeans. Her clothes didn’t define the personality of her character, but let her acting emerge through and beyond the clothing.

I remember my best memory of femininity. I was on a late night subway in Berlin several years ago with my aunt when I was 18. I sat swaying with the ride and was embracing the hum in my body of walking to much, seeing too much, and yet hungering for more. As the train slowed to a new station, the door opened to a couple, neither could have been older than 25, who came to sit across from me.

The guy was plain, scrawny and non-descript, standing in a white T-shirt with his worn mountain bike. It was the girl who is scarred into my mind. She slipped from his two-armed embrace to sit across from me. She relaxed backward into the seat and looking like she felt completely at ease with who she was at exactly that point in time and that would never change and it had never been any different. She was wearing a fuzzy green sweater, small brown glasses, and Capri pants. She had two unique female traits: short, Sinead O’Conner buzzed hair and one last thing that made me inwardly gasp, she had a fine amount of fuzz on both of her legs. It was completely natural and it completely fit.

I envied her. I wanted to be her. I still do.

I have pit stains, I have nipples, I have leg hair. I have a whole host of things that proclaims me as female and human and I wanted, and still want, to not feel guilty for being comfortable with that. Moreover, I want to not have to deal with society being uncomfortable with those things that make me a recognizable and valuable member of the human chain.

It’s not that I want to be ground-breaking. I’m too lazy for that, and ground-breaking constitutes a great deal more ennui than I actually ever have at any one time. I would just simply hope that everything would be my choice and my experience, because ultimately, it is my body.

But there is the subversive…something, telling me it doesn’t seem like it is. I sit in class and look down to see the stray hairs sticking out of pants above my sock, I groan and think about how unprofessional it must be. Still, when I move in my chair and my breasts move against my shirt I’m reminded how unique and good it is to be female, even with the extra hair. It must be valued somewhere and at least I still have flashes of that value.


10 Responses to Flashes of Empowerment

  1. themayor says:

    Great blog! Given my male gender thoughts, for the first five minutes while I soaked this all in, the only thing I could help think of was flashes and breasts.

    Then I re-read where the lady was on the train and how she seemed to be completely fit in her environment and somehow you wanted that here ….

    It dawned on me that Europeans like female hair, like Americans like salt and pepper on fine dining. Switch it around a bit and you’ll find Europeans hate salt and pepper on fine dining and Americans are not too keen on female hair o.0

    Crazy eh? Now I’m confused ….

    Can you please explain the meaning of life

  2. firewings says:

    I’m not one to ask. I’m a heathen and eat steak with ketchup.

  3. K says:

    Now were talking! Hmmmmmm …. steak ….

  4. Martina says:

    hm.. ich weiss genau was du meinst 🙂

    PS: Menschen in Europa LIEBEN Salz und Pfeffer, auch zu feinem Essen….

  5. Martina says:

    Ich vermisse amerikanische Steaks…

  6. The Rebuker says:

    Interestingly, I’ve always envied your ability to eschew the bra and let your guys swing free. Everytime I try to go bra-less I get painfully self-conscious, as though everyone can see through my shirt. What I dislike and marvel at in equal measure is how ingrained some ideas of beauty are — I literally feel uncomfortable if I go out without a bra or sans make-up. How do you reconcile the desire to be true to yourself and form your own identity with the idea that your ‘self’ is (at least in part) shaped by forces outside your control?

  7. The Rebuker says:

    Oh yeah! Viva la steak!

  8. K says:

    My mistake about the salt and pepper geesh! We did however have a French cook explain in great detail why we did not need to put salt/pepper on his steak o.0

    I’m all about being bra less, I sometimes go bra less myself …. 😀

  9. firewings says:

    Actually a part that got caught out of this post was how I was know in high school by the less than illustrious title of “The Girl Who Does Not Wear a Bra”. That and “The Next Bill Gates” for which I got voted for in the yearbook… but I like the ring of the first one more.

    I sometimes think to myself, hmm, them there be my nipples. Then I think about cake and distract myself. I got called “militant” about my bra-less stance just today interestingly enough.

    Also: Martina!!! *squeals*

    And: Impressive on the translating K.

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