I’m breaking my silence. Though I’ve resolved not to return to my blog before I’m recovered from my recent bipolar breakdown, a post… a purpose…came to me that is much too urgent to put off until my outlook on life is all flowers and sunshine. This is even a type of post that I’ve never written.
It’s controversial. It’s blunt. It’s unsettling. It’s opinionated. But it’s important.
I’ll do my best to keep this PC and avoid overgeneralizations, stereotypes, prejudice, stigma, and all the other misdemeanors I might commit while trying to strike the shaky balance between expressing my views and going on a ceaseless tirade.
I’ll do my best not to offend… but then I would be an incredible hypocrite, regarding the whole point of this piece. So, let’s see where this goes…
A couple of the many things I love are music and dancing.
One of my favorite artists is Sia Furler.
I love her so much that I named my dog after her…..kind of an odd way to honor an idol, but I don’t have any kids yet.
Anyway, along with her incredible vocal and songwriting talent, she is a visionary who totally owns herself and her work.
In regards to my passion for dancing, I was in a ballet academy for eight years of my life. I still dance today, but it’s usually while I’m brushing my teeth or making breakfast.
I typically despise (harsh word, I know) “reality” shows because, in my opinion, they often feature ideals and behavior that are capable of contaminating people’s minds and souls (in my opinion, of course). Also, I hate being lied to. Just don’t call your scripted shows “reality,” and I’ll have a more open mind.
That being said, I stumbled upon the show Dance Moms this past winter. I truly thought I would hate it—all that drama with the moms and the instructors. And I did. But greater than my disgust in the petty drama that these adults drag the children into is my immense admiration for the skill, talent, and dedication of these dancers. It just blew.me.away.
I haven’t watched the last season or so of Dance Moms because it was kind of a crutch I used to get me through a cold winter and a long recovery from my running injuries. So, once the snow stopped falling and I was able to move around better, my nightly admiration of those spectacular girls fell by the wayside.
So tonight, as I was discovering more music (an effective tool in recovery), I stumbled upon Sia’s new music video for her song “Chandelier.”
I wasn’t even five seconds into the video when I paused it, ran to my husband in the other room and said, “You won’t believe who is in Sia’s video- Maddie Ziegler from Dance Moms!”
I was just uuber stoked because at only eleven years old, Maddie has made a tremendous, and well-deserved, jump in her dancing career. So, although the video was slightly odd (as most of Sia’s are), I was smiling the whole way through because I could only imagine how exciting and rewarding it was for little Maddie to have this opportunity.
Then, I did the thing one should NEVER do when they truly enjoy a video on Youtube- I scrolled down to read the comments. While I expected to read ceaseless praise on Maddie’s skill, it all became a debate about her skin-toned leotard.
Yes, this girl has impeccable talent and is finally being recognized worldwide, but more people are actually focused on what she’s wearing.
Basically, many people said they felt uncomfortable by her flesh-colored leotard because it was “bait for pedophiles.” They even said the video made them like the song less.
Excuse me, but this girl is amazing, and these people are ignoring all of her talent and basically criticizing her! Most likely, they’re making her feel ashamed for having a particular color of costume, which I’m assuming wasn’t even her choice. Whether the costume designer chose this nude-like leotard as a symbol of the character’s vulnerability, poverty, or illness— is a completely separate subject and should not alter the reviews of this young girl’s performance.
This is an amazing success in her life, and if she’s catching wind of any of this controversy, and I’m sure she is, she might be (wrongfully) feeling guilty and embarrassed. To steal joy from a child’s accomplishments by saying “Well, you’re just encouraging the perverts out there,” is wrong on so many levels.
Coincidentally, I also read an article today on how women have to censor themselves— How we don’t have the same freedoms as men for fear of being sexually, verbally, physically, or emotionally assaulted.
This is a topic that deserves far more than one post from me, and like I said, I’m not one for standing up and shouting my beliefs, but perpetuating the idea that women (no matter what age) are responsible for not drawing unwanted attention to themselves is completely ludicrous. At all of our societal successes, why is gender inequality (on many more levels that just this) still existent?
Like any cause, there are several ways to address it on several different platforms.
I’ll admit, I haven’t been helping the cause, myself.
A couple of months ago, I went on the exhausting search for a new pair of work pants. Now, I work in the office of a manufacturing facility with only one other woman and a whole slew of men. Also, prominent “bubble butts” run in my mother’s side of the family, and I am no exception to that inheritance. I’ve been working at this job for a little over a year, during which I’ve heard some pretty vile things said about my body and what particular people want to do with it.
But I’m used to it.
Isn’t that sick?
And yes, I’m aware I could accuse the forty-or-so of them for sexual harassment, but (sadly) that wouldn’t really solve the problem that spans across societies. This happens everywhere. I just hear about it more because I work in a less-professional environment. While I’m used to being a subject of crude male conversations (as are most women), I don’t like it. In fact, when I really think about it, I feel a sort of disgust and shame for my body. As if it’s my fault for having those men say such rude things to and about me.
Anyway, being only 5’2, my selection for pants is even further limited. Trying to find a pair of pants that I wouldn’t have to hem but weren’t practically a second layer of skin was difficult. So, I finally found a pair that was “ok.” It was the loosest fitting pair I could find that still had the pockets I wanted and that didn’t hang off me like a pair of pajama pants that are six sizes too big. The downside, I would have to hem them. I tried them on for my husband at the store, and while he’s incredibly supportive, I could tell by his face that he wasn’t completely satisfied. He had a pretty good idea of the things guys would say about me before I even started working there. Before buying the pants, he gave me the usual, “If you’re comfortable with them…” agreement.
As we drove down the road with my new pair of pants in the back seat, there was palpable tension. To sum it all up, there was a lengthy discussion filled with yelling, swearing, and tears (all on my behalf, by the way). He wasn’t comfortable having my coworkers think dirty things of me (who would be, though?), and he felt these pants accentuated my assets more than my preexisting pair of pants (which is a single pair of pants I’ve been wearing for three years and is finally coming apart at the seams). I cycled through anger, embarrassment, shame, resentment, and hopelessness, as I felt I couldn’t please anyone.
All I wanted was to have a pair of work pants that was comfortable, professional looking, and didn’t bust apart at the seams.
But I wanted to be invisible. I didn’t want these pants to draw attention to me or to make my husband uneasy.
This all resulted in me screaming about how much I hate my body. How I wished no one noticed me. How the only way to avoid this entire situation would be to work from home or wear a burlap sack to work.
That was over two months ago.
Those pants are still sitting in my closet…tags still on…still unhemmed…
So, in essence, I’ve surrendered to the very monster I despise.
I do my best to wear loose clothing and extra layers, to avoid eye contact with strangers and to rarely smile when conversing with men, in order to avoid stimulating, or “inviting,” sexual advancements.
Writing this out makes me realize how completely insane it all is. But the truth is, I’m not alone.
Not at all.
I find it easier to stand up for others than myself, and the intention of this post was focused on the importance of teaching youth not to hide their talents or their passions for fear of how others may respond.
And yet, here I am, realizing that I’ve done nothing but perpetuate the problem by altering the way I dress, speak, and communicate.
So what now….?
Well, I’m going to sink back into my silence and continue addressing my “me” issues before I return to my usual postings.
But before I do, I’m going to offer my deepest, most profound gratitude for the heartwarming and encouraging support you’ve all given me, even when I sincerely asked you to give up on me and to go on with your lives. I promise I’ll return soon, not because I feel I’m that tremendous of an asset to the blogosphere, but because I hope that by publicly confronting my ugliest demons, maybe people with similar struggles will have an easier time coping. We’re all so comfortable to share our brightest moments, but our darkest ones deserve attention as well. I’m by no means a perfect being, but to remain authentic, I must share the good, the bad, and the bipolar. Thank you so much for not giving up on my and for giving my words the opportunity to be part of your life.
With true love and gratitude,