Stop Telling Women To Smile

The work of Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, artist and activist, is incredibly inspiring. She is combating street harassment using only her art and her mind, and the stories of volunteers!

Read what she’s doing and why: http://www.tlynnfaz.com/Stop-Telling-Women-to-Smile

Check out the Official website of Stop Telling Women to Smile.

And follow STWTS on Twitter: @STWTSmile

I agree with what she posted on her Tumblr, that telling women to smile is akin to asking us not to express our full range of human emotions. You could say that ‘it’s nice, I want you to be happy,’ but no one’s happiness other than your own is under your control. As well, having other emotions is an integral part of experiencing happiness eventually, and of feeling safe. Honestly, I hope that lots of people smile, because it’s a joyful activity. However, I know from my experience as a woman that I feel afraid to smile or make eye contact with people when I’m out in public, for fear they will take my smile as an invitation to harass me. Personally, I have hope for the end of street harassment.

Are you wondering what you can do to help end street harassment? I hope you are! Here’s an article that gives great points to start from, called ‘Three Ways Straight Dudes Can Help End Street Harassment.’

Caught Sleeping?

From the perspective of relaxed and interested audience, I liked While You Were Sleeping. However, from the perspective of ‘Woman who cares what I think about myself and what other women think about themselves’, there were a few things about it that bothered me.

Do you realize how good your life is? Just take a moment and think about it. You have a place to live? Clothes? Food? Job? Luxury of owning a pet?

Me and my adorable luxury pet

Me and my adorable luxury pet

If you answered ‘yes’ to all of those, you are at least as blessed as the main character (Sandra Bullock’s character, to be exact) and really, you can probably relax! Nothing’s that bad! :) Good news, eh?

So the lead in ‘Sleeping’ is unhappy because she’s un-partnered and she develops this fantasy that she’s going to marry one of the patrons of the subway system where she works. The whole film has to do with marriage and the search for the right marriage, because ‘that’s what she’s missing; a family’. I completely understand. I, too, pine and yearn for partnership. I also recognize that if I’m not happy on my own, partnership won’t fix that. I can be happy on my own without a husband, and not be any ‘less’ of a woman.

She also allows people to believe a lie about her, which is based on a misunderstanding, but would be easily corrected all the same. Her explanation of this is that she didn’t want to hurt them, but also that she so desperately wanted a family. So here we have a heroine who bravely saved a man’s life but doesn’t have the courage to continue to live as a single woman when she’s given the opportunity to have a deceptive relationship instead. Not exactly role-model material, though I will admit it’s a change from the deceptive role in films always being played by men. It’s sort of like the male lead in Penelope; he has some decent motives for his not-great behavior. Despite the faulty archetype being the same (liar gets to win in the end) I almost like that Sandra gets to play a character whose behavior is more traditionally masculine, at least from a filmmaker’s perspective.

Another conundrum the film does not satisfactorily resolve is that she accepts a marriage proposal from a guy who is not necessarily nice to her… he kind of harasses her repeatedly. I wish I could say I didn’t buy it, but the problem here is that I’ve seen it repeatedly, and not just in movie-land. When a person is starved for attention, it can be a real challenge to deny negative attention any berth in your life. It can be hard to say ‘no’ to an offer that you know isn’t quite good enough. There is even a scene where his character points out that he hasn’t treated her that well, and she proceeds to ignore this acknowledgment. There’s forgiveness and then there’s denial; I see her stance in this film as more of the latter, which reflects a certain desperation that plays off the ‘lack of husband’ issue.

So while this film was easy to watch, I could also see where it would be so easy to be ‘caught sleeping,’ and fail to notice the dangerous messages provided in the subtext of the film. In balance, I’d like to encourage women to keep your standards high and accept only treatment that is worthy of you. If other people can’t seem to treat you well, that is THEIR problem and NOT yours. Leave them in your dust. Love yourself. You are worthy.

Wherever you run, there you are: Runaway Bride

So I’ve decided maybe a Julia Roberts marathon is in order. Tonight might be …. Pretty Woman? Mystic Pizza? Erin Brokovich? I really resonate with Julia’s works of art/film.

The take home message for me from ‘Runaway Bride‘ (I will do my best to minimize ‘spoilers’) is that you HAVE TO LOVE YOURSELF BEFORE YOU LOVE SOMEONE ELSE, AND BEFORE THEY CAN KNOW AND LOVE YOU.

This is something I’ve been learning in my own life for a while now. It’s difficult initially. I think many of us feel this void and we want to fill it… so we think ‘what do I need? a relationship!’ It may feel like the magical answer, but what about your relationship with yourself? How about working on that for a while?

Personally I’m reaping great benefits from nurturing my relationship with myself. With increasing frequency I’ll see something kind I did for myself (my bed is made and the sheets look smooth and comfortable and pretty…. or I concocted a really delicious smoothie…. or a note I wrote for myself complete with ‘Love, Me’ as the signature) and when I see these things, I feel this powerful and beautiful sense of ‘aww, someone loves me! Oh, I love me!’ It’s a great feeling. It’s really worth it.

I identify with the scene with the eggs. Watch the movie. You’ll see what I’m talking about.

Any fear we experience is internal; it’s about Self. The only remedy for that is to fully accept and love yourself Exactly the way you are now, dark and light and all. Face the dark, rejoice in the light, and you’ll eventually be just who you imagine and wish that you could be.

I need a summer- but the summer’s come and gone

What is up with the title??

Glad you asked, my friend. So I was listening to this song by VAST (awesome awesome band) and one thought led to another. Go ahead! Listen to it. See what comes up for you:

Winter in My Heart

So he says ‘I can’t find all the pieces of my broken life‘ and I wondered what that could mean to me. After a couple thoughts, suddenly I remembered these beautiful sunny yellow pants I had between 2005-2009 (yes… I kept track like they were a pet or a child). I had just sewn a green patch on to fix a hole in them before they got lost. I’ve been looking for them for years now, more years spent looking for them than was spent with them, in fact. I’ve messaged people, posted an APB on facebook, talked to folks over campfires, mentioned them to anyone who might have seen me wearing them and could pinpoint that last time I had them…. so I could know where I might look.

Why do I care so much? I don’t think I even have a picture, or if I do it will be tough to find.* So why do I care?

These pants were a symbol for me…. I recalled a particularly unpleasant vacation that I survived while wearing them and even found my own ways to enjoy parts of, and another rough experience that I’m just grateful to have survived… and I remember looking down at those pants and being so grateful to be in them… grateful they had so many functional pockets, grateful they were bright yellow (they even forged a friendship between me and a co-worker who had bright orange pants and his former roommate who he’d ‘borrowed’ them from – they both appreciated my sense of style), grateful they were 100% cotton and thus I could wear them during welding class and not worry about them melting and sit close to the campfire and not catch, and mostly just grateful to have something that I knew I liked.

*strangely enough this photo was difficult to find... I lived in these pants.

*As I mentioned above, despite the fact that I lived in these pants, this photo was difficult to locate

The woman who gave them to me (yes, they were a treasured hand-me-down) was named Jessie and she was someone I greatly admired. She gave me several pairs of her old pants and I felt cared-about and connected-with because she had noticed my style and said I reminded her a little of herself as a college freshman.

These pants were with me during hard times and fun times, and I don’t know where I lost them. They might have gotten ‘cleaned out’ of a locker in the welding classroom, or left in the car of a road-trip, or ‘borrowed’ by a friend…. who knows?

I know I miss them. But I still have the resilience they represented, and I always have that. I am the strong one; the pants were merely a good symbol of it. So maybe I don’t need all those old pieces of my broken life that I can’t find. Maybe it’s kind of like this:

4f2077d5cf751581c4e45da07b946781Where all the broken pieces that remain add up to something greater than what they originally were.

Mona Lisa Smile: Women’s choices are ALWAYS ours.

Just saw ‘Mona Lisa Smile’ and I loved it. I really connected with the message and main characters.

The driving message of the movie is that women’s choices are always ours to make. This does not mean that women are always right, nor happy with our choices, nor locked into our first choice…. we are allowed to change our minds, admit we were wrong, or let ourselves off the hook for a choice we wish had worked out better!

Julia Roberts’ portrayal of the lead is amazing and cool; I love how she makes her choices and doesn’t agonize over them, she has confidence and a good sense of herself. She earns respect by the way she lives, rather than simply by the way she looks.

I love Ginnifer Goodwin (who is in this movie!) and her role was a beautiful look at how it feels to be lonely and ignored, and yet intelligent, beautiful, talented and hard-working. Everyone has insecurities.

Kirsten Dunst and Maggie Gyllenhaal (who I newly adore due to her role in this film) have this amazing moment where their characters understand each other and it really breaks down walls. I found I could relate to each of the characters quite naturally, which is the hallmark of excellent acting.

Most likely you’ve already seen this movie, since it came out ~10 years ago. If you haven’t, watch it now. Post your thoughts. Revel in the revolution of respecting women.

 

Setting my Standards

I’ve been wondering…. who sets the standard of “beauty”?

Who says it’s shaved legs?

  1. the photos in fashion magazines?
  2. the pornographers?
  3. the women who don’t dare miss a day of shaving their legs?
  4. the men who require their girlfriend or wife to shave her legs?

Who says it’s high heels?

  1. the corporations who sell high heels, but could sell something else if they chose to?
  2. the pornographers?
  3. the women who wear high heels because they ‘want to look sexy’ and don’t think they do in flats?
  4. the men who give lots of attention to women wearing heels?

What do you actually want to wear on your feet? For comfort’s sake? For safety’s sake?

Have you ever actually tried growing out your leg hair? Have you tried loving yourself despite long hair on your legs? Have you? Because I promise you it is possible.

Here’s my proof.

DSC_0313

I’m heterosexual, and brush my teeth every day, and love myself completely. It’s totally possible- in fact, it’s true.