Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away known as “Feminism”, I and tons of others used to get regularly riled up about how the media screwed up our minds. And everyone else’s minds. And the whole of the world. Forever. Etc.
And yes, the media does screw up our minds.
But focusing on the “screw up” is not helping us.
A few weeks ago, Danielle Orner asked on Twitter:
“What responsibility, if any, does the media have for promoting a healthy self image?”
“Overwhelmed by the problem of negative, unhealthy, inaccurate messages. What can we do beyond spreading awareness?”
“Spread healing. When women heal their relationship with their bodies, these messages won’t sting so much.”
I have been puzzling over this for what seems like lightyears, so I know the territory well.
And I know that…
[Tweet “without the inner work, getting mad at the media is counterproductive”]
You live in this culture, yes?
I mean this wider Western culture where the mass media has such strong influence on how people think and feel.
So, you have grown up with this media. And you have absorbed so many of its stories and beliefs.
So far, so good.
What Feminists and other political activists tend to do is fight these stories and beliefs.
Like this: “I grew up with the idea that I need to be blonde and beautiful or I’ll be a total failure. What a horrible thing! The media sucks!!! KILL THE MEDIA!!!”.
Why is this counterproductive?
Because having grown up exposed to it, this idea that “I need to be blonde and beautiful” is now a belief deeply rooted in my subconscious.
And you cannot unroot a belief by kicking it.
What does it mean to have a belief deeply rooted in your subconscious?
It means this belief is a living, breathing part of you.
And hating it equals hating a part of you.
Ouch! Annoying! Really frustrating truth!
Yes. But it is still true.
The “Blonde and Beautiful” belief
I grew up with the idea that I need to be blonde and beautiful or be a total failure and never find love.
This belief is so deeply rooted inside me, it’s practically its own internal organ.
Ask *anyone* who knows me; they will tell you that I b*tch about blonde and beautiful women all the time.
I cannot bear not being blonde and beautiful.
I cannot bear the *sight* of women who are blonde and beautiful.
Like, I actually want to kick them. And punch them.
When I’m in the presence of beautiful, blonde women, it’s all I can do to not collapse completely and breakdown into tears.
They are *never* single. And their lives just look “picture perfect”.
When it comes to this “blonde and beautiful” belief, I am 5 years old. I think, feel and behave like one.
That’s because this is the point in time when 2 realisations sunk in for me:
* One, I had to be blonde and beautiful to find love. (of course)
* Two, I was *never* going to be blonde and beautiful (sh*t)
But back to the media
Yes, it’s true that this whole “You have to be blonde and beautiful” story comes to us courtesy of the media (and colonialism, but let’s not go into that today).
And you know what? It’s now a part of you.
Yes, even if it causes you pain. Yes, even if it makes you want to kick and punch people.
So hating this story and getting mad at the media is not helping you because…
It’s turning the “blonde and beautiful” story into a monster.
And what does it mean to have a monster inside you? It means being a monster yourself. Right?
This completely blocks the “healing” process. Or the “unrooting this toxic belief” process.
Because in order to start the “healing” process and unroot a toxic belief, the first step is to be OK with it.
To see it as normal.
To see it as something that makes perfect sense.
And you know what? It does make perfect sense
“Of course you would want to be blonde and beautiful, Mary! That’s a perfectly legitimate thing to want. Who wouldn’t want to be blonde and beautiful? You are loved by everyone. You get a loving man who will take care of you. You can make videos for your business and people will totally follow you on social media, if for no other reason that you look so great. You have to work half as hard because people will just love you for your looks.
Yes, being blonde and beautiful would be fucking amazing. Of course you would want it!”
Nevermind whether it’s actually true or not (it totally is), the fact is you have to go with the belief. Whether it makes sense or not.
And THAT is how you unroot a toxic belief implanted in you by the media.
But you still wanna b*tch about the media, right?
Fine, go and b*tch about the media. They deserve some insightful, strong criticism.
Just keep in mind that their beliefs are still quietly operating inside you. And that you can’t get rid of them by hating them.
If you want to cancel out the effects of the media in your own subconscious, you have to accept the toxic beliefs and you have to be OK with them. To start.
And once you do uproot them, you’ll be a much stronger activist.
I’m going to appear on Danielle’s blog tomorrow,
b*tching, expanding on the concept of “not being beautiful”.
How exciting!!! :D