Last weekend our campus feminist group (SASS) held a "Love Your Body" weekend. Last night at our group meeting, we reflected a bit on how the weekend had gone and how we might be able to address some of the problems people had, especially with the photo shoot, in the future.
When I first expressed my unsatisfactory experience with an event that I had helped plan for two years, an anonymous commenter wrote, "the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house" and that really stuck with me. Then last night at our meeting, it was brought up that although our "Love Your Body" weekend was a good way to expand the definition of physical beauty, the way we set things up we (inadvertently) gave physical beauty a priority. And that, to me, was exactly why I was not completely satisfied with my experience. I was using the master's tools to try to dismantle the master's house.
In this society, women are expected to be beautiful according to standards set up by those with the power (white males). These standards are not only narrow and unrealistic, but they are meant to be the only standards for what makes a woman (or person) beautiful. I realized that this is why I am not completely happy with this past weekend that was supposed to be an empowering experience.
As long as I continue to think only within the confines of the male-dominated ideals of female beauty, which are strictly physical, I will never be happy with myself because these ideals were not made in my best interest.
Beauty, I finally, truly realized, is not only a physical concept.
I am beautiful because I can express myself with words.
I am beautiful because I have my own, unique thoughts.
I am beautiful because I am not easily intimidated by other who disagree with me.
I am beautiful because, for the first time, I am shedding the chains of a system that was maintained because I did not feel beautiful.
It was such an epiphany I had last night. I know this is only the first step in a long process of overcoming the deeply embedded idea that beauty is physical and that only one kind of physicality is beautiful, but it feels so good to finally be there.