The follow is written by my friend, Jenni Barenz, who is currently working on her psychology doctorate at Colorado State University. Jenni is passionate about promoting healthy female body image as well as open dialogue about sex education and abstinence.
Last night I saw a movie called “Shame.” It was about a sex addict and I don’t recommend seeing it unless you’re ready to get your heart ripped out a little bit. It was shocking, thought-provoking, and got me thinking about body image (go figure).
The reason I started thinking about body image was because of a major theme in the movie, namely, what happens when sex is detached from the desire for human connection and becomes an addiction: an answer to problems it can’t be relied on to fix. My fabulous friend Kelly and I commented on how none of the scenes in the movie about sex were the least bit sexy…they were more like a train wreck.
So what happens when people are viewed as objects instead of humans with souls, hearts, and stories? When one takes the human out of a person and views him/her as an object, good things don’t happen. Think holocaust or slavery – these are the ugly things that happen when ANY person or group of people is viewed as less than human. These are the ugly things that happen when a human is viewed only in terms of how they look. Hitler wanted a blonde-haired, blue-eyed race of humans. Likewise, America had to fight a Civil War in order to come to the final conclusion that slavery was nothing but the horrifying idea that some humans are inherently lesser than others.
So what happens when a woman is viewed only in terms of her outward appearance? She becomes less than human. She is “the girl with the nice legs” or the “girl with the big boobs” or the “girl with the weird hair” or the “fat girl” or the “ugly chic.” She is no longer a human soul but just a body. And when those two things are separated – good things don’t happen. Ugly things happen. Very. Ugly. Things.
We can’t change society unless we change it one person at a time. Starting with ourselves. Starting with what we do in the morning and throughout the day. What we say to ourselves and how we treat ourselves. Instead of beating ourselves up over a few extra pounds or a bad hair day or a bad skin day or a bad all-over day, we love. Because we are not reduced to our thighs, our stomachs, our butts, or our faces. Because if we reduce ourselves to what we look like, ugly things happen: disgust, fear, loathing, punishment, sadness, distress, shame.
Say it over and over – I am a human not just a body. Not just a face. Not just an outfit. I am a human. I am a soul. I am a heart. I am a story.