Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Women, Stop The Snark, Even If Only For Today!...

Today is International Women's Day, which just happens to coincide with Fat Tuesday, but those are conjoined events of which we won't comment on the irony. It's a day we are supposed to come together and celebrate each other and please, oh please, stop talking about Charlie Sheen!

It's certainly no secret that all of my childhood role models were found on a television screen: Kelly Kapowski, Kelly Taylor, Rebecca Katsopolis, Billie Reed, Phoebe Buffay, Claire Huxtable-- but who do kids of today have? Young women who smoke out of bongs and shave their heads and go on Twitter bitching about each other. It's a rough time to be a kid! Admittedly, when I was young, there weren't things like Twitter or digital cameras-- the internet was just barely coming into homes and bedrooms-- so maybe my role models looked better simply because there was a lot I didn't know about them. But that might be thinking too little of them; after all, when digging a little deeper it's easy to see there actually are quite a few young women in the spotlight today (and who have been for awhile) that manage not to completely embarrass themselves or others.

But the thing is: these young women didn't necessarily set out to be role models. Sure, it inherently comes with the territory at times; once you are in the public eye, you are in the public eye at all costs. You will be put on a pedestal, poked, prodded, and pushed until you crack-- either from the pressure of the media or for the simple pressure of your peers or your own curiosity to explore and expand yourself and your limitations. It's in the fine print: it's something they signed up for without even realizing the full ramifications of it. It's a clause in their contract they couldn't avoid even if they wanted to.

We so often ask others to be perfect without asking the same of ourselves. We want someone else to be the shining example so that we have something to aspire to, but when they make a mistake or fall a little bit, we turn our backs; we make fun; we shun. We don't extend compassion because they are supposed to be larger than life and therefore better than all of us. But what does that say about how we view ourselves? If we slip and fall, too, do we beat ourselves up practically beyond repair?

Well, we might, but we most certainly shouldn't!

The truth of the matter is-- and I am guilty of this, too, without a shadow of a doubt-- it is so much easier to look outside of one's self for answers on what to wear, what to say, what to be. But at the end of the day, we can't hang all of our hopes on an image because it is not real. Those so-called role models are people we have created by taking pieces of who a person really is-- or at least seems to be-- and molding them and shaping them into what we want them to be. Sometimes it's the media, hand-picking quotes to make a person seem better (or worse) qualified; sometimes it's our own interpretation of what we're reading by projecting our own issues onto that public figure. But whether we're looking to an actual actor, singer, writer, director, politician, whoever or a fictional character from a show or film, it's just not real.

And yet the minute they do something actually real and "screw up" (in our minds), it becomes a problem.

It's International Women's Day today and I would just like everyone to take a minute to look at the women in their lives, be it the actors and singers on the glossy covers of magazines, co-workers in the adjoining cubicles, those you see around you in the checkout line at the grocery store or waiting on a platform for public transportation, etc. Look at them and actually see them as the whole being, flaws and imperfections and all. And for once try not to go for the easy, snarky way out. Stop judging them; stop calling them derogatory names, even if just to prove you're "cool" with saying the word; stop tearing them down. Because when you do all of those things, you set us all back countless years.

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