"So let's practice what we preach and with the acceptance that we expect from others, let us stop being so damn judgmental and crucifying everyone who doesn't fit into our boxed-in perception of what is right." - Gillian Anderson
Today on Facebook, one of my friends posted something asking why girls are the ones who got stuck having to do all the things like shaving their legs, wearing makeup, doing their hair. (This isn't that exchange-related, but I've had about 10 years of gifted classes, affectionately called by gifted students, "lessons in B.S.", so I'll find a way to make it fit.) There were girls commenting on the status saying things like "well, we don't NEED to do these things, but we SHOULD".But I don't agree. At all. Maybe 1 out of every 20 Portuguese girls wears makeup on a regular basis, and they're some of the prettiest people I know. If you don't like doing these things, and you're not trying to please yourself by doing them, then why are you doing them? The following is the introduction from Eve Ensler's new book, I Am an Emotional Creature.
Dear Emotional Creature,
You know who you are. I wrote this book because I believe in you. I believe in your authenticity, your uniqueness, your intensity, your wildness. I love the way you dye your hair purple, or hike up your short skirt, or blare your music while you lip-sync every single memorized lyric. I love your restlessness and your hunger. You are one of our greatest natural resources. You possess a necessary agency and energy that if unleashed could transform, inspire, and heal the world.
I know we make you feel stupid, as if being a teenager meant you were temporarily deranged. We have become accustomed to muting you, judging you, discounting you, asking you--sometimes even forcing you--to betray what you see and know and feel.
You scare us. You remind us of what we have been forced to shut down or abandon in ourselves in order to fit in. You ask us by your being to question, to wake up, to reperceive. Sometimes I think we tell you we are protecting you when really we are protecting ourselves from our own feelings of self-betrayal and loss.
Everyone seems to have a certain way they want you to be--your mother, father, teachers, religious leaders, politicians, boyfriends, fashion gurus, celebrities, girlfriends. In researching this book I came upon a very disturbing statistic: 74 percent of you say you are under pressure to please everyone.
I have done a lot of thinking about what it means to please. To please, to embody the wish or will of somebody other than yourself. To please the fashion setters, we starve ourselves. To please boys, we push ourselves when we aren't ready. To please the popular girls, we end up acting mean to our best friends. To please our parents, we become insane overachievers. If you are trying to please, how do you take responsibility for your own needs? How do you even know what your own needs are? What do you have to cup off in yourself in order to please others? I think the act of pleasing makes everything murky. We lose track of ourselves. We stop uttering declaratory sentences. We stop directing our lives. We wait to be rescued. We forget what we know. We make everything okay rather than real.
I have had the good fortune to travel around the world. Everywhere I meet teenage girls, circles of girls, packs of girls walking the country roads home from school, hanging out on city street corners, arm in arm, laughing, giggling, screaming. Electric girls. I see how your lives get hijacked, how your opinions and desires get denied and undone. I see how this later comes to determine so much of our lives as adults. So many of the women I have met through The Vagina Monologues and The Good Body and V-Day are still trying to overcome what was muted or undone in them when they were young. They are struggling late into their lives to know their desires, to find their power and their way.
This book is a call to question rather than to please. To provoke, to challenge, to dare, to satisfy your own imagination and appetite. To know yourself truly. To take responsibility for who you are, to engage. This book is a call to listen to the voice inside you that might want something different, that hears, that knows, the way only you can hear and know. It's a call to your original girl self, to your emotional creature self, to move at your speed, to walk with your step, to wear your color. It is an invitation to heed your instinct to resist war, or draw snakes, or to speak to the stars.
I hope you will see this book as something living, that you will use it to identify and overcome the obstacles or pressures that prevent you from being an emotional creature. Maybe after you read these stories and monologues you will be inspired to write and share your own, or paint your bedroom wall, or fight for polar bears or speak up in class or learn about sexuality or demand your rights.
When I was your age, I didn't know how to live as an emotional creature. I felt like an alien. I still do a lot of the time. I don't think it has much to do with the country I grew up in or the language I speak. In this book you will meet girls from everywhere. Some live in remote villages, others in huge cities or posh suburbs. Some worrying about whether they will be able to afford the latest purple UGGs, some worrying if they'll every get home after two years of being held as a sex slave. Some deciding whether they are able to kill a supposed enemy, some on the brink of killing themselves. Some desperate for the next meal, some unable to stop starving themselves. Girls from Cairo, Kwai Yong, Ramallah, Bukavu, Narok, Westchester, Jerusalem, Manhattan, Paris. All of them, all of you, live on the planet right now. I think whatever country or town or village you physically live in, you inhabit a similar emotional landscape. You all come from girl land. There you get born with this awakeness, this open-hearted have to eat it, taste it, know it, defy it. Then the "grown-ups" come with their rules, their directions. They teach you how to make yourselves less so everyone feels more comfortable. They teach you not to stand out. They get you to behave.
I am older now. I finally know the difference between pleasing and loving, obeying and respecting. It has taken me so many years to be okay with being different, with being this alive, this intense. I just don't want you to have to wait that long.
Why waste time doing your makeup when you could be out making memories? People will still think you're beautiful if you don't shave your legs in the winter, or if you don't always comb your hair. I will. Everyone's against the media putting pressure on young girls to look perfect, but nobody wants to give up caking on their own makeup. Stand up for yourselves, girls.