I Found God in Me. A Womanist Biblical Hermeneutics Reader

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

You Are Not Your Breasts, Butt, Hair or Face

What do you EMBODY? Yesterday at the Breast Cancer Awareness luncheon at the Westin in Southfield, MI, I met beautiful, bubbly Mrs. Joiner (her and her husband started the Joiner Foundation in Illinois). Mrs. Joiner, an African American woman, had had a masectomy, and she is a survivor! She opened her jacket & flashed her chest which clearly showed she now had one breast under her beautiful bright pink shell. Wow! I was stunned for a second; felt a quick jolt of fear, and then realized the power of the moment. Wow! She has taken control of her life and is EMBODYING herself as a beautiful subject and not the object of degrading sexism. A powerful moment of embodiment and testimony! Wow! It is okay to choose reconstructive surgery, but she chose not to. And she is not ashamed of her body! She embodies her body well, with peace and confidence. Many of us may never have to make such choices about our body in the face of cancer or something else, but yet we can't embody our bodies with such peace and confidence.

Many women are ashamed of their bodies and have not had to struggle with life-threatening illness that force them to choose between keeping body parts and life. Yesterday, Entertainment Tonight aired a story about a woman who paid $10,000 for butt surgery because she wanted a butt like Pippa Middleton's!?!  Butt surgery has become the number one surgery sought by women replacing breast augmentation.  And most cosmetic surgeries are done solely for cosmetic reasons, to look like someBODY else or because we have been convinced that our BODIES are not sexually appealing; that the body parts we have or the clothes we wear do not objectify our sexuality enough. 

Does your self-worth lie in your body parts and how attractive they are or are not to the opposite sex or a significant other?  Does your self-worth lie in how close you can come to looking like the thrice painted over and airbrushed models in the magazine covers and in the movies? Then maybe what we have is not self-worth but a deficiency of worth in self -- a worth that is based on how others' value or devalue our bodies. What others demand and require of our bodies will change and will never be enough. We are chasing ever-changing and elusive fantasies that are driving us away from self-worth!

We are not our breasts, butts, hair or face!  We are the character we develop and share with the world to make it a better place for ourselves, our children, and our fellow human beings! We should want to live in a world that loves and respects difference, variety, the natural beauty we all have, character, and loving human interaction-- not to mention the ethical questions that arise about spending thousands of dollars on cosmetic augmentation when people who are suffering from debilitating and life-threatening illnesses struggle to pay for or cannot afford good health care treatment or prevention! And I wish our magazines would not make fashion and cosmetic enhancements their primary focus. Let's examine ourselves for health and not to make unhealthy comparisons with other women. I'm saying...

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