By Nicky Bantham
In our world today, the ‘Nett-value’ of our self- worth has become synonymous with having an aesthetically pleasing physical appearance, social stature and financial success. Is it any wonder that we’ve become clones to the ‘external standards’, as they are set out by the various sources we allow to affect the view we have towards ourselves?
The media for example, one of the most influential and powerful mediums, have induced our belief system with ideas, which make us aspire to specific lifestyles, but whose grip on reality is based purely on increasing its readership or ratings and somehow leaving us feeling worse about ourselves.
Women in general, are far more inclined to become swayed by this sometimes ‘negative stimulus’, as living up to this impossible maxim, becomes increasingly difficult. We are further exemplified, by these pages, with its glossy content, and trade in our value systems, as collateral for ‘acceptance’ when we ‘measure-up’ to global standards, which only line the pockets of marketing teams, trained to ‘prey off’ our psychological weakness in how we see ourselves.
One of my favourite authors and renowned voices of our time, Dr Maya Angelou, illustrates a very clear portrayal of what constitutes true beauty. In her poem, ‘Phenomenal Woman’, Dr Angelou, contradicts all of the superficial notions we’ve been conditioned by. Her work and particularly this poem have become a widely-read contribution and celebration of women from all walks of life. The poem, through its motivational tone, encourages the practise of self-love, as a ‘rebirth’ for women, who have become marionettes or ‘counterfeit demonstrations’ of media influence and society, whose prophecies are fleeting and without foundation.
In the first stanza of the poem, we are given direct insight into the psyche of this ‘renaissance woman’, and how SHE sees herself, when she writes:
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
but when I start to tell them,
they think I'm telling lies.
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Our visual aids, along with a juxtaposition of the type of social conditioning we’ve been privy to, further spearheads our ‘negative’ frame of reference, making women today, far more insecure, in my opinion, than our ancestors, who have had much less ‘access’ than we do today. Our spiritual nourishment, seemingly embellished only by what we DO NOT have, or what we ‘cannot live up to’, corrupts our 'provoked vision', as we engage in our daily battles with SELF. I have met so many physically attractive women, whose disapproving ‘self-talk’, make them victims of this industry, as they strive towards social acceptance, in this fickle world.
In certain societies for example, it is in fact ‘sinful’ to hold vain views about one's self. In these civilizations, with its apparent ‘antiquated’ ethics, the morale or social standing of women is effectively a collaboration of cultural trends, set out for them, by the instrument of government or the administration of these cultural statutes.
Does this make them less magnificent or ineffective, as contributors to global-trends? Are they socially marginalized or seen to be inept because their views or lifestyles do not assimilate to belief systems as set out by the Hollywood stars whose lives are verifications of media opinion?
Today’s trends have become erratic diagrams, where being ‘slim’ one minute or ‘full-figured’ the next, become the ‘variables’ by which we allow our esteem to be chartered, contributing to industries, whose main interest it is to market a product, not add to the greater good of mankind. It is therefore up to each of us to commemorate ourselves in ways that are not transitory, but a CELEBRATION of our most inimitable qualities, making us excellent conduits and role-models for future generations.
By Nicky Bantham
Copyright © December 2010