The Friday Dose #122: Shaming Mothers

Winner: 2016’s Friday Dose of the Year

It’s not like women don’t have enough issues to deal with already and now, in a remarkably ironic twist, the biggest media outlet in the world has made it very clear through both words and actions that it feels women should feel good about having thin young bodies but they should feel ashamed and embarrassed about their body as a mother.

978 FD Relax and Succeed - Facebook's rejected postYesterday I wrote a piece about stretch marks and how women shouldn’t feel badly about having them just because some other younger person judged them as unattractive. I explained that the lack of acceptance was a form of innocent ignorance being displayed by otherwise good people who simply don’t yet have the capacity to be able to appreciate those signs of pregnancy as being attractive.

Whenever I get an indication that a blog is particularly meaningful or worthwhile to readers I will spend some money to boost it to ensure people who don’t subscribe to Relax and Succeed can still benefit from the content. When I tried to do that with this post I was quickly told (likely by a “female” robot), that facebook’s position is that “Ads like this are not allowed since they make viewers feel bad about themselves.”

We’ve all seen plenty of sexual content on facebook. I have no shortage of photos and videos in my newsfeed that depict scantily clad extremely slim young women doing everything from holidaying on Spring Break to playing beach volleyball at the Olympics. If one of the largest media outlets in the world is saying yes to young and sexy and scantily clad while simultaneously arguing that women should feel bad about themselves for having stretch marks what does that communicate to young women and future mothers?

978 FD Relax and Succeed - Facebook's rejectionThis a clear demonstration of how egotistical and judgmental the world has become. I won’t choose to let many things upset me but, on a day where the biggest thing on the internet was a one hour video of a naked Donald Trump statue, this just flew in the face of the freedoms my own father joined the war effort in WWII to protect. That being the case I appealed facebook’s rejection and then received the response depicted–written by purportedly a woman no less!

One of the main reasons women write to me is because of body image issues. Just the day before there was a comment on the Relax and Succeed facebook page that noted, “Needed this here in the fun and sun, where shorts, tanks, bikinis and long legged younger women surround me, LOL. Where a reminder is needed that stretch marks, cellulite, and grey hair and wrinkles are beautiful as well.” Indeed.

Everyone who liked or loved the post was female, but facebook doesn’t think anyone should see it because it’s “…extremely undesirable.” Facebook suggested I find a product to advertise instead but since I don’t sell products that would be impossible. I’m a writer who doesn’t even have any ads running on my page and if I ever did I would do all I could to ensure that they didn’t ever make anyone feel ashamed of themselves and the way nature made them.

978 FD Relax and Succeed - Response to FacebookThis is of course precisely what feminists are fighting against and now we know clearly in writing how facebook feels on a policy basis. Facebook has an idea of what you’re supposed to look like and anything outside of their definition is unattractive and therefore should not be seen. They’ll take money for an ad for unhealthy food but they won’t permit people to pay to promote a non-commercial post featuring a genuine women’s issue. This is remarkable considering Mark Zuckerberg has a daughter and his wife is obviously a mother.

I tried to use the word “media” to trigger the algorithm to go get me a real person but, having likely failed in that, all I did was get pretty angry at a robot, which is silly. She definitely won’t have an issue with stretch marks. But this is where the energy behind outrage can be helpful if it’s focused in a healthy way.

I do feel strongly that if we want a more just society that permits everyone to feel good about themselves then we must each take definitive action to change the sexualized judgments that advertising has historically used to guilt women into buying beauty products. If I was on facebook advertising a cream to hide stretch marks I would have no problem, but if I want to promote women feeling good about their natural bodies that is not allowed.

Facebook will obviously try to hide it from you but if at all possible I would obviously like to see this blog post shared more than any other I have ever written. If you’re mature enough to feel like I do–that mother’s have every reason to feel proud of their post-pregnancy bodies– then please help spread this message on all forms of social media so that appropriate social pressure can be placed on facebook to revisit their sexist standards.

This is clearly not in the interests of women or men and I would appreciate anything you could do to help ensure that women are also exposed to positive natural body images and words. To all you mother’s with stretch marks–I know you are beautiful and I want you to be confident in that too. On behalf of a male-dominated world I apologise on its behalf for having ever made you feel badly about maturing into the most important job on Earth: motherhood.

 

Respectfully, s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Stretching Our Spirit

Relax and Succeed - Nature is busy creating absolutely unique individuals

There are a lot of ways to be beautiful. But, like many things in life, it can take time to come to appreciate certain kinds of beauty. This is like when, as young people, we all start off entirely selfish and grow towards ever-increasing empathy (if we’re healthy).

Naturally, our starting place in youth is to begin with relatively shallow ideas about beauty and (if we’re healthy), we expand those ideas to include more and more things and therefore more and more people.

It’s natural for a child, tween, teen or even a young adult, to view physical health as is manifested by our genes and our habits. If someone 10,000 years ago was too lazy to hunt that would be reflected by being underweight, whereas being able to eat a lot would be a sign of success in a  pre-money pre-symbolism world.

Especially if we’re raising kids, obtaining food is the bottom –and most important layer– of Maslow’s Pyramid. It behooves us to sort that out before any other thing, so it makes biological sense that we would want to be with others who can look after themselves

To actually have a child a woman would be in competition for a mate with other women and therefore the qualities that denote physical success would be more beneficial to the men who also want to see their lineage move forward in that wonderful way nature has.

977 Relax and Succeed - You are beautiful

As we actually attempt relationships though, we find out they’re about more than just the sexual attraction and obtaining food. That attraction can get a person pregnant but, if sharing the food only lasts a short time then the children are in jeopardy. That means having a male who feels dedicated enough to stay long enough to protect those offspring also makes sense. So then, rather than beauty or money, commitment to the relationship becomes most important.

Again, we grow and we realize that commitment only comes from certain temperaments reliably, so now we’re not looking for looks or money, or just commitment, we’re also looking for the right personality. How nurturing is someone? How courageous? How enjoyable? How well do they parent?

Eventually the child-rearing years are over and now the commitment does not have the bind of the children which is why a lot of divorces happen within a few years after the kids are independent. But if things prior to that have been so enjoyable and secure, it can be in both parties interests to stay linked. This attraction is based on appreciation.

977 Relax and Succeed - The more we can appreciate

While age forces our hand regardless, it is possible to move quickly through this evolution if we can come to grasp these individual ideas as part of a larger concept; meaning we understand that people stay because we treat them well.

In turn, we treat them well because we appreciate what they bring into our lives. That’s why when we’re young we can wonder how a woman can still be attractive with stretch marks, and yet when we’re older we see those as signs of life’s greatest achievement.

The problem comes in when we compare, because everyone is viewing things from a different perspective. Like the old Indian stories about the four blind men studying an elephant, one can think its tail is like a rope, another can find the legs are like a tree, another finds the tusk is like a spear, and the last finds the trunk like a snake. No one’s wrong, they’re just representing the elephant from their separate perspectives.

In general, a younger person does not yet have the capacity to appreciate the larger meaning of a stretch mark and so they can see it as a scar rather than a symbol. So the problem isn’t the stretch mark on the older woman, it’s an illusion created by the younger person’s limited ability to appreciate what they represent, simply due to having less experience in life.

It’s much the same with anything. Men can historically look at moneymaking  (aka food-gathering) as the main skill but, as we come home from some hunts wounded, we come to realize that care and support after the hunt can be what enables us to hunt better tomorrow.

In this way people grow toward each other in mutual interdependence, which is a form of appreciation –the highest form of awareness. Conversely, in a thought-based comparative world, where two people are less skilled at appreciation, they will end up being co-dependent, thereby making the relationship unhealthy for both the parents and any children.

977 Relax and Succeed - You will b e too much for some peopleWe are better to avoid applying the perspectives of others to views of ourselves. We have no idea by looking at someone where they are on their own shallowness-appreciation spectrum. And we’re all on that spectrum as well, so we shouldn’t lament that someone else is too.

We should not apply others values to ourselves any more than we should use our thoughts to compare who we are today to our younger selves from an earlier time. The comparison itself is what generates pain. This is why people often keep clothes that don’t fit in their closets, and why they can hate themselves as a result.

These sorts of comparative thought-calculations are painful. Meanwhile, there is no comparing in appreciation. There is no room in our consciousness for histories or comparisons to anyone or anything or any time when we’re appreciating. We’re too busy appreciating. Our consciousness can only do so much in any given moment.

No matter where we are on this spectrum of awareness, we should love ourselves as we are. There is no need to hurry, or to cling to any point in life. We each move at our own pace and that’s fine. As long as we don’t use our thoughts to generate the judgments and comparisons then we’re not anywhere on any spectrum –we simply are. And since that is where the present moment is, that is the very best place to be.

So, today and every day, simply go and be. Without comparative thoughts, we can be comfortable with whoever we are right now. After all, that person is beautiful and perfect whether our thoughts tell us so or not.

peace. s