If you find yourself in this world speaking out as an activist or advocate, passionately voicing your opinions for the good of your fellow man, don't make waves for the sake of being different. Do it because you wholeheartedly believe in what you're fighting for.
I and Matthew David, a musician friend of mine, recently discussed the different experiences in our own lives, and how the past can teach us about who we are now. Are we both thankful for the experiences that have led us to who we are today? I believe so. But more importantly, Matthew and I realized that because we come from belief systems that are identical to the beliefs of those who would criticize us for our problems or our lives, we're better able to understand, utilize patience and forgiveness, and extend our many lessons and knowledge to our future.
I hope I am able to speak for Matt, too, when I say I believe I'm well on my way to "letting go" of what others have done in the past to bring me down; I also ask for those in my life whom I may have wronged to please do the same.
I'm trying my best to "live and let live" and appreciate the differences we experience in our lives, but I don't believe that phrase is all-encompassing. As an outspoken survivor, I am extremely angered when individuals who preach one set of values one day then completely massacre those important values the next and, in the process, influence people negatively. I feel a responsibility to point out the hypocrisy.
Joy Behar, a very passionate, opinionated, and driven comic on women's issues, recently presented a scathing criticism of Jessica Simpson's pregnancy: "Most women who are pregnant are not supposed to gain more than 25 pounds. She looks like she gained a lot more than that." I am no medical practitioner, but I am positive that Ms. Behar's statement cannot be regarded as a true or accurate diagnosis. All I have to say is: Shame on you, Ms. Behar, shame on you. I believe that the worst things we say about others contain some truth about ourselves.
Unfortunately, trash talk comes out of various daytime television shows every day, but given that Ms. Behar often decries the objectification of women, I can't help but say that she needs to engage in some serious self-reflection here. Don't criticize a woman, any woman (or guy, for that matter) for appreciating her body, any part of her body, ever. If there were anything wrong with Ms. Simpson's pregnancy, her health or otherwise, allow her physician to give an accurate diagnosis based on fact. Behar may have been making a joke or jab to entertain her audience, softening her comment with a smirk or smile, but honestly, many people aren't laughing.
Although many individuals and organizations across the spectrum step forward in speaking out about their fight to improve self-acceptance, tons of mixed signals from those same outlets often scream insecurity.
I'm deeply troubled by Jennifer Hudson's Weight Watchers commercials. Although Hudson possesses amazing talent and is definitely someone to be admired, I wish she, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and other weight-loss industries would focus more on actual health, not numbers -- that is, emotional, spiritual, and psychological health in addition to the physical. Numbers all-too-often become the focus of what "success" means to many, and that obsession takes away from an appreciation for our bodies as a whole.
Lady Gaga is an inspiration to many and a prominent figure in a strong youth movement, but she has shown troubling inconsistencies throughout her short career. Gaga admits to a "drunk diet," tweets that "#PopSingersDontEat," and claims that all of her pictures are altered to make her body "perfect." Yet she also says, "The dieting wars have got to stop. Everyone just knock it off. Because at the end of the day, it's affecting kids your age -- and it's making girls sick." Where is the consistency? Why not say no to any photographs that are altered?
The dieting industry, cultural norms, and airwaves send blatant reminders of all the success and happiness people already believe they don't have, and these influencers do nothing more than fan flames of inadequacy for those exposed to them. When we're focused on numbers, we don't consider ourselves whole people. Our bodies have needs, and we lose sight of what is healthy. Instead of focusing on something that fits, remember that you're here for the long haul, and your focus should be on a sustainable future.
I realize that every individual is human, imperfect, and that everyone, including me, makes mistakes all the time. However, we have to realize and own that once we've made a mistake, every time thereafter that mistake morphs into a choice. And man alive, our culture is choosing to make a lot of bad choices at the expense of others.
We need to take our own advice and present our messages as consistently and positively as possible. People get through experiences for a reason: to teach, to educate, or to speak out -- maybe not in the normal sense, but by passing something along, such as a gift, a thought, or a positive message. To stay consistent, we must remember the past, rejoice positively in the present, and dream positively of the future.
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