By Ice Bloom
Every day we log into our various social media sites and scroll through recently posted pics from friends and people we’ve never met. Often pics posted by/of models, burlesque performers, adult entertainers or just women who are proud of their bodies. You scroll through the comments and the first 20 are are the most vulgar excuses for compliments known to man…the next ten are body critiques and trolls and then somewhere near the bottom are friends and genuine admirers offering support and sincere compliments. I’m not sure when we all became so shallow and cynical but as it stands the public standard of “beauty” has become ridiculously cruel and sadly motivating.
In the words of Al Pacino in his portrayal of the epic John Milton “vanity is definitely my favorite sin. It’s so basic…self love!” Vanity, in itself, is not a sin any more than pride is. When vanity is used to motivate yourself to be healthier, to work harder, to be more confident then it is a wonderful tool. However, when used to compare yourself to the public standard of “hot or not” it is pure destruction. It’s used to demean, belittle and set a standard that can’t be met. Once a pic is posted online then it is immediately critiqued and quantified and the subject of the pic simply must be categorized. Too skinny, too fat. Too many tattoos, not enough tattoos. Too edgy, too boring. Breasts are too small, breasts are too big. Beautiful, ugly. Some comments from men thinking they have the right to dictate what they want to see and others, shockingly, from other women seeking to undermine.How is anyone supposed to be able to keep up with the public demand? What happens when you don’t meet the criteria? More importantly, if you do…..is that all you are?
I want to tell you about a friend of mine: Lisa.
She’s one of my oldest friends and easily one of my favorite people on this planet. I’ve held Lisa up as the standard to which I measure most of the women in my life since we met. Not because of her appearance, but rather because of who she is. She is a highly educated woman who’s maintained a lucrative career in the import trade. She has built a name for herself as a Gothic belly dancer. She teaches dance classes which show other women how to be confident, exude sexual independence, strength and physical fitness and over all to celebrate life. She is soulful, dedicated, well read, she loves music and adores her son. She is a dedicated mother a wonderful friend and her lust for life is utterly infectious. She works hard for her body. Properly I might add; her fitness regiment is impressive. But her humility is even more so. She takes pride in her appearance but still blushes when a compliment reaches her. She knows who she is and strives to be the best version of herself for her son and for herself. She works hard for her body and she posts fitness pics and pics of herself on stage to promote her work of course but also because of the work that she has put in. She is the least conceded person you will ever meet but she takes a well justified measure of pride in her appearance. I have held her up as the standard for the women in my life because she has commanded my respect for her as a person from the beginning through nothing more than her grace and humility in the face of her own trials.
However, in her efforts to exude confidence she struggles daily with being misunderstood as do most models. Most people have been conditioned to confuse sexual independence and confidence with an obsession with sex. She has accomplished much in both her personal life and both of her professions and rather than being applauded for her efforts and her courage to be seen publicly for them she is instead objectified and critiqued. This, of course, broaches a number or recent social issues regarding provocative dress and photography interpreted as invitations. An issue that has come up in sexual assault cases, comic conventions, and a myriad of other venues where in coarse vulgarity is hurled at unsuspecting victims and simply passed off as “they were asking for it…look how they are dressed”. baring in mind of course that this is only the measure of the comments from men. Women, on the other hand, have been conditioned to see each other as competition and standards for one another. Lisa is a creature of true grace and handles these matter discreetly. But on the inside, imagine the frustration she must feel not being allowed one moment to enjoy a personal victory: a target weight hit…. a muscle tone achieved…a promotion at work…her son thinking that he has the most beautiful mother in the universe without being labeled and verbally accosted as an object.
People see a beautiful woman online and their first impulse is leave some keys to the VIP line and hit on them, or compliment their ass or other such juvenile nonsense. It’s generally not considered that this is just as inappropriate and damaging as bashing a full figured girl for being “fat…chunky…” It’s just not fashionable anymore to draw the distinction between celebrating beauty versus celebrating sex appeal. So in an effort to defy convention I’d like to take the opportunity to celebrate my friend. Madam Lisa Webb…..one of the most beautiful people I have ever known.
My challenge to all of you is quite simply the next time you see a woman post a pic of herself hoping to celebrate a small victory, to feel good about herself or to showcase herself as an artist…..have some class: fight the urge to be a pig. Try actually saying something nice. ;)