Triptych of Disconnection II - Body
(Art work by Pete Shaw http://peteshaw-acoustic.yolasite.com/)
This is my second blog on the theme of disconnection. I have spoken before on my personal issues and experiences regarding body disconnection but I want to go a little deeper here and reflect on it as a much wider and insidious phenomena.
I also think these 3 areas of disconnection, (Body, Earth, Each Other) are all so intricately woven together that it is heard to pull on one thread without it snagging another. Let me explain.
There is a huge multi-million worldwide beauty industry whose primary focus is to make us feel imperfect and inadequate. They succeed in doing this by holding up and offering a particular version of what beauty and perfection is and making us compare ourselves to it. Whilst these versions may be different in different cultures, the effect is the same - we end up feeling shit about ourselves and envious of those who are nearer to the image than us. When I was in my 30's, I would actively avoid going into certain clothing stores where certain types of women, (read slim, young, 'attractive) would work as I felt they would judge me as not being worthy, (read slim enough, young enough, attractive enough) to go in and buy the clothes. Often the clothes would all be in tiny sizes anyway and I have always been bigger than a size 10, which was deemed the ideal size, if not smaller!
My feelings towards my body, which created a disconnect between me and 'it,' prevented me from connecting with other people, as I based so much on whether my body, (which society stated was unacceptable) would be judged by them. Whether I would be judged by them.
So much time can be taken up with thoughts about diet, body, beauty, comparison with others etc that it leads to withdrawal from others. It can make us unable to go out, unable to show our legs/belly/arms as we feel they are not acceptable, essentially that we are not acceptable. I have known women who would not go out in the summer when it was hot, as they felt the need for their body to be covered due to its ugliness and they felt that people would look at them in their long sleeved tops and trousers etc and think them weird. This prevented them from connecting with the land, prevented them from lying on beaches and from feeling 'at home' in their own bodies. This withdrawal can extend into exploring the outdoors and experiencing nature. I mean, think about any advertisement for 'the great outdoors, what type of people do you see..? Black? Asian? Older? Bigger than a size 14? Non-representation is as damaging as misrepresentation and apparently certain people are not worth representing!
There is a thread that connects all of these elements and that is white, male supremacy and the policing of other's peoples bodies, lives, behaviours by that system. It is so insidious, it is really hard for anyone, including white males, to separate themselves from this system and to be aware of how much it forms our views, behaviours and beliefs. It as as toxic and destructive for these men as it is for the rest of us, in as much as it is a system that eventually will create huge destruction of the planet - we will all lose, there are no winners here. I am so tired of all men believing they can freely comment on my body, whether positive or negative, just the assumption that my body is theirs to comment on. But here is where I also have to own that I am just as corrupted by the system. I will often be offended by 'fat people' showing too much flesh and then flip to admiration that they bloody can because I certainly am not brave enough to do so. I find myself judging women who have had botox or obviously had breast implants or have an annoying a girly' voice or.... or.... or.... I am filled with reactive judgments about women's bodies - less so men's bodies. I am unwillingly impregnated by the patriarchal system and birthing their judgments. Fuck.
I think about the ancient myths of the great hero's - they only survive and achieve by asking for help, by finding animal helpers, by being vulnerable. I know men who do this, it offers me solace and joy. I often hear people say that we need to find new stories for our present time of chaos and uncertainty and I am impelled to say, we need to reach backwards into the ancient stories in order to heal the wounds we have caused and also carry. I am working on a new show for the Tusseland Festival in Netherlands which retells the most ancient myth of Inanna who descends into the Underworld and becomes a piece of rotting meat hanging on a hook. She is recovered because she is remembered and somebody calls her name. This ancient story offers us all a salve for our broken, disconnected pieces. I am finding great peace in anointing myself daily with her wisdom.