I recently read that in China people have become so accustomed to seeing closed-circuit cameras everywhere that they get nervous in areas without them. Think about that. The natural world has no ccTV. When it first came out, it made a lot of people nervous they were being surveilled or followed. For most of human existence, people lived without any cameras or recording devices and humankind survived. And now, ccTV cameras are so ubiquitous people are afraid or uncomfortable without them. It’s a powerful lesson about fear and comfort.
That kind of fear is an illusion. There is no real danger, just a lack of comfort or a new experience. But it can feel real and scary! Very often, we’re terrified of something just because we’ve become comfortable to a certain reality — but if you change that reality, you can still survive. Sometimes you can even thrive. And once you get to the other side, the place without ccTV, where you can truly be alone without anyone watching you, you can actually feel liberated. You’ve stepped into a new world and that’s exhilarating.
Every new year comes with resolutions, one of the most common being to lose weight or, at the very least, to finally get fit. Sometimes we want to lose weight because of a health scare, but a lot of times we just want to look better. Women are bombarded every day with images of perfection, beauty, youth–ideals that can wreak havoc on our self-esteem. Others rebel against these ideals and refuse to conform to society’s impossible standards by refusing to work out or lose weight, sometimes even if it affects their health. Either stance is problematic because they’re both reactions to external opinions. This new year, I want to suggest an alternative view, one that’s entirely self-driven. Hear me out.
Continue reading Some Thoughts on Fitness, Body Image and Self-Respect
Happy New Year!
I live in NYC where you’re often measured in terms of your accomplishments: books published; awards won; promotions earned; marathons ran, etc. That’s how we often think of personal growth–in terms of the externals. Or maybe that’s how it seems to me because that’s how I was raised and so that’s how I valued myself until recently. The problem with this outlook is that, while it can be tremendously rewarding, sometimes all the work you do does not necessarily garner public recognition. And then what? In this day and age, with Facebook and Twitter, I get the sense that if you don’t talk about what you’re doing, writing, training for, then people get the sense that you’re not doing anything at all. I feel a loss of respect and regard from some quarters and my little ego can get very bruised if I get on that train. I acknowledge that the problem to overcome here is my own proverbial Latin bourgeois fear of “el qué dirán”, what people will think.
Continue reading A Spankin’ Fresh New Year
You know what I hope the next wave of feminism is about? I hope it’s about how we women are human. I don’t want to be a superwoman or an archetype. I just want the right to be seen and treated as a human being who is good at some things, clueless about other things and who sometimes needs a little help and other times knows just the right thing to make things better. A human being who sometimes has a bad day and doesn’t feel like smiling all the time like a Barbie doll when, say, she just had to meet last minute deadlines at work, and has just gotten scary news from the doctor. A human being who sometimes doesn’t know what the hell she is doing, who makes mistakes, who tries her best and often falls short, but sometimes is unexpectedly brave and strong. Just a person, not an object of desire, not a heroine, not a goddess, not an Earth Mother.
When do we get to be that? When will people accept us as just people who happen to have female reproductive organs? Is that really too much to ask?
There’s a certain type of person who thrives on making even the simplest request into a huge complicated mess. For instance, if I ask for something, instead of giving me a Yes or No answer, they’ll provide additional options that, in their view, are so much better than whatever I originally wanted. Like, say I ask for a glass of water. They’ll tell me: “Are you sure you’d like water? Because orange juice quenches your thirst AND supplies your daily requirement of vitamin C.”
Continue reading The Diabolically Solicitous Friend