I have recently dipped back into a book by Gloria Steinem that I read some years ago titled, A Book of Self-Esteem—Revolution From Within. It was very meaningful to me when I read it and I’m being reminded, now, of why that was. I wanted to share this short passage with you:
From the chapter, Bodies of Knowledge:
The body seems to have its own antennae that can sense the degree of esteem—or contempt—in which similar bodies are held. Regardless of how distorted and self-hating our body image may have become, our real bodies seem sensitive to the fate of others like them.
Think of the impact of “Black Is Beautiful” or any comparable message on a group whose physical appearance—whether because of sex, race, ethnicity, age, or able-bodiedness—has been key to its devaluing. Stand outside the rare movie with a strong and daring female protagonist, and watch women emerging with higher heads, stronger walks, and greater confidence.
Consider the importance of a sports champion who comes from a group that has been made to feel it can’t win, a popular movie in which American Indians are finally the “good guys”, a violinist whose music soars while he sits onstage in leg braces, a deaf actress who introduces millions of moviegoers to the expressiveness of sign language, and even one woman who remains joyous, free, sexual, and good at her work after sixty or seventy.
The images of power, grace, and competence that these people convey have a life-giving impact—just as trivialized, stereotyped, degrading, subservient, and pornographic images of bodies that look like ours do the opposite, as though we absorb that denigration or respect through our nerve endings. Wherever negative physical imagery has been part of low self-esteem, a counterpoint of positive imagery can be part of raising it.
Love to you all,