Monday, June 11, 2012

My New Year's Resolution: 2012 Edition, Part Two

I started the New Year off with one seemingly simple resolution: to not focus on photos of leggy, boney, Photoshopped models, but rather to surround myself with photos of beautiful, healthy young women. (Refer here.) I've been really proud of the progress I've made with this resolution. I've reflected this a lot on my Pinterest and in the blogs I've been reading. I've even since wrote angry letters to fashion magazines! It's great to read blogs written by real girls showing their passion for personal style and being true to yourself. As a blogger, it's refreshing to see other girls on the Internet who aren't afraid of their curves and don't mope over the size of their boobs or thighs. This new appreciation has led me to a second resolution for 2012. I'm taking things one at a time, and I think I'm ready to moved onto resolution number two.
"Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference." - Jane Goodall

Growing up, I was absolutely certain that I would become the next Jane Goodall. There was no doubt in my mind that it was my entire purpose in life to create harmony between humans and the animal kingdom and to speak for those who do not have a voice. Jane Goodall was my very first role model. I read every book about her that I could get my paws on and did countless report projects about her.

"Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others." - Amelia Earhart

Although my admiration for Goodall didn't fade for most of my adolescence, Amelia Earhart also snuck into my short list of female role models. I found her empowering. She denied odds. Even if she didn't complete her world flight, she's still a strong symbol of feminine power in a culture where a female who didn't settle into society's role for women was considered undesirable.
As a young girl still figuring out what she wanted to be, these women were everything. They were the world. They were a million doors opening. Looking back, I can understand my mother's disappointment the day I announced that I wanted to go to beauty school. There comes a day when, for many young girls, being society's idea of "beautiful" becomes very important. I sat down and watched all the Disney princess movies for the first time when I was 12. It was against my mother's rules and I understood why she didn't want me to see them. It was around this time that I began reading my first fashion magazines - GL, Teen Vogue, Seventeen, Elle Girl - and that my sister began lecturing me on why it's necessary that I straighten my hair and dress a certain way. It was also this time that I began to admire models and movie stars simply for being beautiful. To me, it became everything to be one of those girls.

My list of role models altered drastically. Jane Goodall and Amelia Earhart slipped off my radar entirely. I soon came to admire fashion models. I'm sure that these girls are all unique and special, and I'm sure I could find an excuse to admire then despite their beauty. We all have struggles to overcome and a story to tell. I'm sure I could admire almost any person walking down the street for some reason or another. But there was absolutely nothing motivating about these girls. What on Earth could inspire me to grow, to push boundaries and reach for more? Without that motivation to appreciate women, I began to feel bitter towards them. Things turn toxic when women put more faith into the power of the male than the female.

On top of that, I resented feminism. I was so opposed to being a feminist - I didn't want to be hairy and butch, to hate men, or to absolutely repel them. I wanted to fit into society, to wear dresses and wear make-up. For some reason, I didn't believe that I could wear heels and still stand up for my own rights.

Things have really taken a 360 in the past few months. After this last break up, I began to realise that putting all my effort into boys was absolutely silly. I'd put my real dreams on the back burner for a chance to be considered beautiful and desirable by society. I'd completely neglected my faith in women in society. My role models would be so disappointed in me...

I've suddenly become a feminist. Maybe it's the current political climate, but I find myself feeling empowered by females - and yes, females who maybe are not considered bombshells or particularly "desirable" by society...but why am I so obsessed with fitting into society? What is society doing to help me?
My 2012 New Year's Resolution, Part Two, is to find empowering females...and focus on them. Sure, there's nothing wrong with my deep admiration for Clara Bow and Marilyn Monroe or my dependency on Cat Stevens and Charlie Chaplin. But there's so much more. As a young woman heading into the big, scary world, there's so much going against me, just as there's so much going for me. It's silly to be entirely dependent upon men or to let myself be put down over men and their rules. From now on, I am a feminist, and that's nothing to feel shameful about.


mardijane said...

That is such a great resolution. I have been watching blogs for a long time but most of the outfit posts and editorials I see look absolutely nothing like I do, or would in those clothes, or even my skinny friends would. It's beautiful, but really disheartening considering normal size 12's are beautiful too.

Anonymous said...

it's amazing how much just changing your view on beauty can affect your happiness. At least for me, when I was younger I had my body role models like Kate Moss or the VS models and I told myself it was reasonable for my body to look that theirs. it's not though. Once I accepted that, I looked for women who looked like me or had more reasonable beauty traits and I set my standards to THAT beauty not a supermodels.
I think it's very dangerous to admire women purely based on their beauty. I realized that I would never look like Kate Moss and that besides her looks what was really admirable about her? Now I have idols who aren't just pretty or adored by men for their beauty. Like Emma Stone who is honest, real, and hilarious. Unfortunately everyone seems to look up to Victoria Secret Models at some point which is completely understandable with our media these days that is so obsessed with photoshopped perfection and the eternal youth and beauty of women.
This is such an A+ post, and this subject is the main reason I became a feminist. Anyways, the fact that you have matured enough to recognize that it negatively affects your life and you are changing to stop that is beautiful! Keep it up girl.
God I wrote a lot!

Kaitlyn said...

normally when i see these kinds of posts that are super long and text-heavy, i skim over them or just skip past them altogether. but this was so amazing and i'm glad i did otherwise this time! honestly it was the picture at the very top that caught my attention, because i don't look like those victoria's secret models, i look like those women. i think more girls around our age should be able to see that women like that are beautiful too(:

rachel said...

I was also a Jane Goodall fanatic - what a wonderful role model. I think your resolution is great - and if you're realizing this at age 18 (19?) then you're ahead of the pack. I think we all go through a phase where we want to learn to be desirable to men, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, so don't worry! It's not like you should have been doing something else with your time. I went to a liberal, feminist women's college and spent a solid year there in the middle hating it and just wanting to have a boyfriend. I could have been doing so many great things! And then eventually I did get a boyfriend and afterward it was like I was liberated - I knew I was desirable and could go accomplish new things.
Great resolution and great role models!

Nicole Brown said...

Great thoughts and great post! :)

Priya said...

Go Chloe! Your resolutions are so thoughtful, I've never seen ones like that.

Sarah Dee said...

I learned when I was 16 that you don't need to be butch to be a feminist. A feminist is someone who believes in equality between men & women. I don't have to shave my legs, I don't have to wear dresses, I choose to do so because it makes me feel good! I hate it when people say feminist like it's a bad word! It's just the belief that women aren't lesser than men, but equal! Which isn't a current belief in today's society no matter how many men like to pretend it is. Great resolution! Love the first pic!


Priya said...

Also, I'm doing something special on my blog right now, and I'm sure you'd like a postcard. Check it out!!

Kathryn Schultz said...

I hate the reputation that feminism gets. Feminism is such a broad spectrum, for one thing. When people try to stick a set of rules to it, it gets really frustrating. I'm glad that you've decided to identify yourself as a feminist!

Anonymous said...

“Does feminist mean large unpleasant person who'll shout at you or someone who believes women are human beings. To me it's the latter, so I sign up.” - Margaret Atwood