A few weeks ago someone loaned me the book, “The Beauty Myth” by Naomi Wolf, which talks about the history of social control and how a male-dominated U.S. society has done all that it can to keep women frantically and obsessively focused on their appearance instead of developing their skills and using their intelligence and intuition to climb the social, political, and career ladder. I felt uncomfortable with the angry feminism that oozed from the pages of the book and frequently had to put it aside in order to return to my little “happy, peaceful bubble”. But this morning at the gym I realized that something Ms. Wolf wrote was ringing out as true: the beauty myth has caused women to compete with one another instead of connect with one another.
This thought popped into my head today as I, yet again, scanned the gym for beautiful women and instantly compared my shape, my perceived weight, my muscles, and my stamina to them. As I jealously watched one thin young woman do some amazing abdominal work, I realized I was working out just four feet from her and I hadn’t even acknowledged her presence with a “hello”. I forced myself to say “hi” and she smiled back. The ice was broken. We ended up having a wonderful conversation (NOT about working out) and it was then that I realized I had fallen into that trap of competing with other women instead of connecting with them. I wonder how often I have overlooked a possible connection because of the hold that perfectionism and the beauty myth have on me.
Almost three years ago, I talked about the importance of looking within, not between — of comparing our own progress from day to day or week to week instead of comparing ourselves to others. For the most part, I can do that. But occasionally I slip back into old habits and allow the beauty myth to grab hold.
How will you let go of competition and aim for connection instead?
Peace, joy, and health,