Have you heard the news? Lauryn Hill had a son and the paternity of her sixth child is unclear (at least to the public). After seven years, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony are divorcing. Jennifer Aniston has a new boyfriend, and she may or may not have plucked him from the arms of his live-in girlfriend. And Katy Perry went full on Smurfette and continued to raise eyebrows by once again combining cleavage and kids shows through her wardrobe choices.
In a summer where true scandal has run rampant at the hands of powerful men (Schwarzenegger, Weiner, Wu, Murdoch, Strauss-Kahn) who have allegedly lied, cheated, abused, pillaged, hacked and illicitly tweeted; these ladies, with their family and fashion scandals, probably won't make the list of the summer's most outrageous shame fests. Still, there are enough juicy, eyebrow-raising ingredients to have the gossip mongers and morality police all a twitter.
All of this shocking behavior got me thinking about the idea of scandalous living. First, I checked out famous quotations to see what others thought about the subject. Writer Paul Chatfield said, "Scandal is what one half of the world takes pleasure inventing, and the other half believing." Oscar Wilde, one man I would have loved to sit down and have a martini with, once said: "One should never make one's debut with a scandal; one should reserve that to give interest to one's old age."
Interesting food for thought.
Then I turned to Merriam-Webster, which defined scandalous as: "behavior offensive to propriety or morality." Hmmm. To make sure I had a true understanding of the definition I flipped back a few pages and looked up 'propriety,' which is "the quality or state of being proper," and also defined as "the standard of what is socially acceptable in conduct and speech." Double hmmm.
Okay now I'm feeling just a little bit annoyed because just who is the arbitrator of what is socially acceptable? Who is actually in charge of dictating to me and you what is proper and moral conduct? I mean, beyond breaking the laws of this land, the Ten Commandments, and other generally agreed upon rules of civil behavior (like dropping F-bombs at parent/teacher conferences or sleeping with your BFF's man), who is the wizard behind the curtain playing the grand 'decider?'
When I think about the famous women, like Jennifer Lopez, who many of us look up to as sensual and sexual icons, most are considered scandalous in some form or fashion. Think about it: Cleopatra, Mae West, Coco Chanel, Josephine Baker, Elizabeth Taylor, Diana Ross, Cher, Madonna, Angelina Jolie. All are women who by living and loving (and dressing) on their own terms, often created controversy and concern among the keepers of society's moral compass. But they weren't afraid of being judged. They were afraid of not living fully expressed.
A healthy fear, I think.
These women lived by their own values and rules, and while some choices led them down rather destructive paths, others led to great success and happiness, and both paths led them towards an authentic life... one that for good or bad, right or wrong, was dictated by their own sense of individual truth.
The more I think about it, the more I become a quiet advocate for delightfully scandalous living. Scandalous women are sexy. Why? Because passion, confidence, curiosity and boldness are all the prime ingredients to a scandalous personality. And being scandalous doesn't require that you do anything illicit or illegal or lose your sense of integrity and honesty, just that you lose your fear of being authentically you.
Redefine the word for your own lifestyle and mindset. Free yourself from other people's opinions about what's right or wrong, and do what you have to do to live a life that is full and joyous and satisfying on your terms. Put a little delightful scandal in your life. It need not be major or tabloid worthy. Nobody but you even needs to know. But certainly do something that excites you; that feels right to you; that is in keeping with your own truth and values but makes you step outside the boundaries that other people have placed on you.
Wear red nail polish instead of clear; eat expensive chocolate instead of salad for lunch; go commando under your church clothes; show a little cleavage; raise your hem and showcase your legs; take your inner diva on vacation and discover something new about yourself; pull out that list of sexual tricks and treats you've been too intimidated to try and check them off one by one; take a skinny dip; learn to pole dance.
Do something that you don't ordinarily do because other folks think you shouldn't. Follow Oscar Wilde's advice and include a little scandal in your life to give you and it interest, spice and memories that bring a sly smile to your lips. Eliminate regret...and failure...from your vocabulary. And if that's not possible, consider that it's better to regret something you DID instead of something you DIDN'T do.