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looks and looking

I’m gonna make you look at yourself when you look at me. Okay, when you look at any woman. No, this ain’t a blog about going natural, shunning salons, or defying modern conventions of beauty. We all got opinions about that stuff, and damn do I wish I could go back in time and threaten the bitch who thought it made sense to scrape all the hair off her legs. What this is about is looking at what we need to look at. This is just one of many. This is a process of making the world less complicated and your life big on the Real. So let’s have a look at looks. After that, I’ll tell ya how to change the world, k?

When we look at a woman, no matter what she’s doing, what we see first is her looks. And we decide whether we want to look at anything else about her depending on what we decide is true about her choices about her looks. You may not think you behave this way. You may see all the amazing and substantial contributions of women all the time. But, you probably spent some time on her looks first.

The obvious ones we catch ourselves on – like when the media makes a big deal out of a paparazzi pic of some celebrity’s cellulite, and we take a stand for cellulite. There’s a brief but massive influx of “Say cottage cheese!” selfies on social media. We act honorably. We look at a bunch of other women’s cellulite. Wait –

And far, far away somewhere under all the cellulite, wasn’t that celebrity leading some fundraiser or something? For some humanitarian cause unrelated to what cellulite looks like – on her or on anyone else?

I’m currently on vacation on Lake Michigan, where there’s an active, beachy, outdoor lifestyle. When we first arrived, my husband and I saw an older white woman with dark, leathery skin, and we both kicked in the “too-much-sun-what-was-she-thinking?” slam-fest. What? Who cares? This woman was loving life in the outdoors, and had been for many years. It’s a beautiful thing. And you can just shut up about skin cancer right now – you know that when you see a women like this, you are not expressing concern for her health. You are seeing her looks first (gag!), judging her for her looks (where are her priorities?), classifying her by them (stupid!), and justifying this spiral with a comment on her irresponsibility that could result in skin cancer. Not to mention – when has anyone looked at an older leathery guy and said, “What was he thinking?” Excuse me – my bad. For men we use the term “rugged” in place of “leathery.”

If I don’t “take care of” my “self,” I will be judged. Excuse me – my bad. For women we use the term “appearance” in place of “self.” Doing awesome things that might adversely affect my appearance, like living a life connected with nature, will make me extra ripe for judgment.

But, hold up. Don’t beat yourself up. The world taught you this, again and again, over xxx years, every time a woman was put in front of you. It didn’t teach you what I’m about to. All ya gotta do when your shit is gleaming on display to you like this is see it. You gotta see it, bitches. Oh yeah – then change the world. Bitches.

All right, so let’s change the world now, k? Here are the steps.

  1. Take regular, repeated awareness-building action (practice) – to help you see more overall
  2. Take action in real-time (application) to see more overall
  3. See a thing that you couldn’t see before, that needs seeing (realization)
  4. Do something about that one new thing you can now see (make change)

So, reading as far as this gives you a shortcut to step 3. Whether you have an awareness-building practice or not, here you are. Aware of this problem with looks I’ve yammered on about while you were wondering why I’d ever show such obvious cleavage on a so-called yogic blog.

But wait – are you convinced this needs your attention, that it’s something you need to do something about, like check yourself the next time you find yourself wondering if Ellen had a peel instead of listening to her commentary on how kids can reteach us joy? If yes, then start intervening when you notice yourself caught up in a woman’s looks – pull back, breathe and remember you’re human, and see more of her.

If you’re not seeing any issue at all, no bigs. Forget this issue, but go to step 1 anyway. Start an awareness-building practice like decent yoga – it has to be an action done regularly in which you practice awareness if you want to become more able to see more. (Decent yoga is an awareness practice rather than a triceps practice.) Like if you want to be able to play guitar. Thinking about playing guitar – what playing guitar is like, what the word “guitar” means, how important the guitar is, blah blah blah – that ain’t gonna get you jackness. Thinking about being more aware has the same result – you still won’t be able to play guitar. 😉

This one is simple. Let’s build awareness so we can see things that need our attention. The things that need our attention are things we couldn’t see before, or we’d already be taking action on them. They are hidden behind cultural norms. And the paradox is, most cultural norms aren’t normal at all – they tend to be pretty fucking absurd. Why is seeing more important? Because seeing less sucks. You can never figure shit out. Life remains complicated. You remain powerless to the complicated nature of life. So, stop it. Your outlook can change everything. Hell yeah, the world.

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