Hope Contagium

A therapy journal of self-obsession, depression and meaning.

Tag: love

Erasing Beauty

There is an issue I would like to address.

I just saw Kim Kardashian’s post on Instagram: a picture of her previous Halloween costumes. Two of them were decent enough and a tad creative, but the rest was just a collection of skimpy “little-girl” dresses which goal was to look sexy in. Again I was reminded of girls and teenagers who look up to this idol of theirs and learn that dressing up is all about dressing down. It’s no longer about pretending or celebrating the holiday, but about evoking sexual desires in others. This is nothing new and the subject has been discussed by many.

Then I remembered Demi Lovato’s stunt on natural beauty, where she chose to pose nude for a photographer with no makeup in a Manhattan hotel room. Of course with no retouching to change the photographs. When she speaks about it, she mentions: “Confidence is about feeling comfortable in your own skin”. This is very fresh and a nice attempt to embrace your body. I congratulate her for taking this step and having courage.
But what she couldn’t help portraying in these images was sex. Not by being naked, but by posing in positions that call for admirers. Poses to make her body appear attractive and sexy – ergo still collecting an audience through sex.

Which leads me to the common bond between Kim Kardashian’s costumes and Demi Lovato’s photo shoot: both still setting a standard for your body’s image.

It’s extremely encouraging to see new body types in the media, but from my point of view, they do not seem to be about celebrating yourself and your natural appearance. They are unfortunately still setting demands and standards for beauty. Because in them still lies a main goal: to be beautiful.

Celebrating your body shouldn’t be about altering it through surgery, fitness, poses and so on in order to awake a sexual sensation in others. It should be about you – only you. It should be about loving your body with all the gifts from gravity, aging, posture, pain and nurture. It should be about swimming naked because it arouses a feeling of freedom in you – and not because others like to observe your naked body in water. Fitness should be a fight for health and inner ease – not about a certain way of looking. Exercise makes us feel beautiful, not because it changes our bodies on the outside, but because it makes us feel strong and healthy.

I understand how others see Demi Lovato as brave and love Kim Kardashian’s curvy figure (I do apologize if this seems like an attack on them – it isn’t – they are just two of many examples out there). But our idols are forgetting some key elements. Maybe because they haven’t felt anything but the spotlight for so long. Or because they’ve forgotten the pressure of being one of the many; one of us girls down here in our boring, everyday lives, not able to understand why we don’t feel beautiful. Taking your makeup off for the camera once in a while (once every few years) doesn’t change our perception of beauty and it won’t bring confidence or an acceptance. All these waves of liberating your body and celebrating natural beauty give the tiniest sprinkle of hope to people and trick us into believing that these rare occasions are enough. We are blinded by single acts so we forget to look at the details.
To bring change you have to live the change. You have to feel the change.

How beautiful it would be, if the people we looked up to actually lived a life true to the cause they create awareness about. Instead their battle for awareness and helping others feels like a publicity stunt. When will they face the reality that in them lies great power and an unimaginable large amount of influence. Use this influence beyond yourselves.

This post is not an angry outburst. This is not a criticism towards sex or a feminist trying to speak up to fight for women’s rights. Beauty standards do apply for men as well. I am merely expressing the feelings that grow in me as an observer of our mass media society. This is more a hope for humans to be allowed to be humans – just the way they are. I believe there always will be beauty standards, since we can’t escape them from our natural instinct. Even animals search for a certain appearance in their mate and strive to attract the opposite sex. The difference is that animals do this for reproduction, for survival. We simply do it to make money.

Though this seems an impossible goal to gain confidence and self-love from within and not through approval and admiration from others (because we do reflect our self-worth through others). I do believe we can create a world, where the pressure isn’t as heavy as it weighs today. Also our idols are under extreme pressure and this might be the explanation to why they portray themselves as they do. Alas, they are the ones with the power to change this world and even more importantly, we, us, the fans and consumers, have even greater power to make a change.

I am not addressing an issue which hasn’t been discussed by many, I am not trying to focus on objectification or body images – but though they clearly contribute. I am talking about our approach to this subject and the flaws in our self promotion. I miss seeing beauty portrayed without sex involved. Without confidence, without makeup, cameras, fashion and more. I’m even tired of searching for and admiring physical beauty. I just wish for honesty and existence beyond our appearance in the eyes of others.

https://instagram.com/p/9bzT_UuS5T/?taken-by=kimkardashian
http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2015/10/demi-lovato-spontaneous-nude-makeup-free-photo-shoot#5

The Unsaid

It may have been disingenuous of me to imply at the start of my last letter that when we conferred at the end of a day, I told all. To the contrary, one of the things that impels me to write is that my mind is huge with all the little stories I never told you.

 – Page 13, We Need to Talk About Kevin (2003), Lionel Shriver

La Vie

So I drank two glasses of wine at a pub while listening to a discussion on tragedy. Then made my way home. As I waited for my train I bought a McDonald’s meal. But oh so laughed the universe at me: there were no seats in the train. So I had to eat my food crouching on my knees on the train floor. After I was finished, with my very unhealthy dinner, I had to entertain myself for the rest of the way home. So I sang songs out loud in the train (but quietly so only I could really hear me). First I sang of freedom, afterwards of goodness, followed by a song of love and finally songs of death. Throughout all this, I was still desperately hoping to see this one man’s face in front of me, all the way home.
La vie… Porquoi? Je ne sais pas.

Close Your Eyes

You’re desperate; desperate for so many things you are too lazy to even try to accomplish. You give up before beginning. You can’t even remember why you are so desperate. The only thing you see is this black hole you find yourself in. You eat to feel better; hoping the short vague pleasure will help; it only makes you feel worse.
Put on Tchaikovsky and let his creative tunes caress your mind. The music shows you old fairy tales and you taste Russian greatness. Slow beauty, steady accumulation, the echo of careful bells, sharp outbursts, and playful sounds turn into powerful roars. When you hear the choir of little boys sing you imagine such simplified glory. Their song makes you feel loved. You remember when you were happy. Finally the music allows you to disappear.
Just close your eyes.

Intimacy

Once in a while I remember her soft skin and our kisses. It’s a secret though, because it’s all in the past. It was a different intimacy than I’ve ever experienced with any other – with any men. It was so gentle and equal. Even if we fought like no other, were confused about it all, were frustrated and inexperienced, it was still special. Because it was so different, foreign, and new to us both. It built up from somewhere unknown – that was the beauty. Neither of us knew what we were doing. So many tears were spilled, so much spite thrown at the other… I still feel the specks of passion in us and the sense of affection towards her. I still look at her with curiosity and see her wonder.
Longing for a better ending, for a better now, frightful of our lost future, I do accept the turn of events. The whole memory is unclear; I’ve forgotten all the whys, hows, and whos. But I clearly remember that soft skin and her kiss.

So Horribly Banal

Looking forward, life seems so long and unattainable. I still feel so lost. But I saw joy in rising tired from the bed and taking something given to me by my love, my best friend. It was the most meaningless action without thought or achievement. So horribly banal. Though when it happened, I felt happiness once again today. With him I believe in a heaven and I imagine I’m there. The love I always seek is right in front of me. We run to each other, we embrace each other, he swings me around. We laugh alone and together, we hold each other, we feel safe together. I even sing him love songs…
It’s the familiarity and our combined everyday that’s so magical. How our unoriginal boredom actually is pleasure and special moments. Doing nothing of any importance, as long as we do it together. Growing together. Being together. Even if we’re not lovers, we are friends, and I want to grow old with him in any way. This is our love.
I always thought if I had real love than everything would be okay. It’s a lie, but true at the same time.
Yet life seems so long and unmanageable.

Forget, work, love

‘Depression is under the skin, all the surface of the body has the depression just below it, and we cannot take it out; but we can try to forget the depression even though it is right there.’ […] ‘There is a final step,’ she said to me after a long pause. ‘At the end, I teach them the most important thing. I teach them that these three skills – forgetting, working, and loving – are not three separate skills, but part of one enormous whole, and that it is the practice of these things together, each as part of the others, that makes a difference. It is the hardest thing to convey’ – she laughed – ‘but they all come to understand this, and when they do – why, then they are ready to go into the world again.’

 – Phaly Nuon, The Noonday Demon (2001), Andrew Solomon

I want a reason…

I want a reason for my existence. There is none. I’ll have to make it up if I want one and when I do it won’t feel convincing. I’ve made up reasons before but I haven’t been able to hold on to them. Is recognition enough for your will of living? Is it a reason? It is completely uncomprehending how lucky I am to have Levin. No wonder I dream of a future with him and always have since we found each other. Lately I’ve been so happy with him or should I say exceptionally joyful of having him by my side; of knowing him. That might be the closest I’ve yet been to true happiness: the love I feel for him. The love and recognition he feels for me. But right now it only helps me survive, it doesn’t help me live. Besides, we’re only friends now.

Therapy Journal

21:23, August 24th
This notebook is to help me in my darkest hours. I will use it to write down my confusion and pain as an attempt to alleviate that confusion and pain. Most of all I want to stop the suffering my state has caused Levin. I hope I’ve never made his heart hurt… At least now I will turn to this notebook with my dark thoughts and not him. It will be filled with my hate and sorrow and longing for death. And it better be packed with therapeutic journal-material ’cause I paid too much money for it!

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