There’s a meme that has been making the rounds on my Facebook newsfeed. “In a world of Kardashians,” the meme says, “be a Diana.” I’ve seen a few variations of the meme. “Be a Stevie [Nicks]” says one. “Be a Rey [from Star Wars]” says another. There are probably others out there, telling people to be whatever type of woman the meme author finds better than the Kardashians. And it’s one of those memes that annoys the fuck out of me.
Those pseudo-uplifting ideas that are meant to promote individualism, but only a very specific kind of individuality. Much like those Real Women Have Curves and When Did This Become Hotter Than This memes, the idea is based on promoting one standard of beauty at the expense of another. And like those memes it’s poison. Because when you base your self-confidence on tearing down another’s, you are participating in the same destructive rhetoric that society uses to enforce conformity and to punish those who don’t fall into the narrow definitions of what it means to be a woman.
Just as bad is the inherent sexism in the meme. Like the other mentioned memes, it is always aimed at women. If Kim Kardashian was instead Kevin Kardashian, the memes would be very different. Kevin would be considered a smart business man, a trendsetter, the head of a corporation that influences media, fashion and technology. The memes would be comparable to ones extolling the virtues of The Most Interesting Man in the World or Overly Manly Man. But instead, despite being a successful entrepreneur and having a net worth of $85 million, she’s held up as the wrong kind of woman to aspire to.
I realize that progress has been made on so many fronts: body acceptance and positivity, body diversity, rejecting harmful beauty standards, celebrating and encouraging differences and individuality. And I recognize this is just a phase in that progression. But I will be very happy when we move beyond this grade school attitude that in order to celebrate what makes us special we have to tear down those who might find their own specialness in the status quo. Or, as I put it on Facebook:
Over the last week or so I’ve been struggling to find the positive in life. News of people being killed, lions being poached, politicians being politicians and my country’s insistence on not addressing any of its problems has worn me down. Today I found out I’m not the only one. A friend on Facebook mentioned he was having a hard time finding positive things to share. He asked others to post something positive and the first few comments were of people searching and failing to find good things.*
I am making an effort here to list the good that has happened recently. This is mostly an exercise for myself. Perhaps it will give someone else a well-needed smile or boost.
- Since Enya passed, Trixie hasn’t been eating regularly. Before she would have to eat everything in her bowl on a schedule because a) Enya insisted on staying on schedule and b) Enya would finish her food and then go after Trixie’s if there was any still in the bowl. Now that she is an only dog, she seems to have taken to eating only when she feels like it. I can’t leave her bowl out with food because that is, indeed, how you get ants. The last couple of days I’ve taken to putting a bit of peanut butter in with her dog food and joint supplement, and that’s just the motivation she needs to eat as soon as the bowl hits the floor and finish everything.
- As silly as it sounds, the new IKEA catalog is out and that makes me happy.
- While our gardening exploits haven’t been as fully realized as we had planned we have still managed to harvest a modest amount of greens and herbs.
- Stephan loves his work and his work loves him.
- I went to the library on Sunday and spent almost three hours writing with minimal anxiety. This Sunday I am going to try it again.
- One of my dice bags was featured in a treasury on Etsy.
- Speaking of bags, I got my first order of Spoonflower fabric last week and made bags from it.
- I am going to the gym again.
- This .gif:
In the grand scheme of things a catalog or workout or dog isn’t much. They won’t make the world a better place overnight. What they will do, is shore up my ability to deal with the anger and sadness and frustration I experience every time I read the news. They’re what keeps me from flipping the world the bird and hiding in a bottle of Scotch until the rising sea levels drown us all. It is an element of self-care and it is important.
Tonight I am having a glass of wine and flipping through the catalog. Tomorrow I will wake up to more atrocities and fights and causes, some of which I will be able to feel like I can do something about.
I hope those of you reading this can find more good to offset the bad. It’s a rough world out there. Take care of yourselves and each other.
*Eventually his post was overflowing with good things, including a link to this Tumblr.