If you were born after 1980 then you may have a hard time believing what I’m about to tell you; but I wouldn’t lie to you, especially not about this:
Once upon a time, in my lifetime, it was taboo to talk about breasts. There were no self-exam posters on gym locker room walls; there were no “Save the Ta-Tas” t-shirts. Boobs were off limits, whether called by their formal or informal name. Breasts were considered private parts, requiring cover and secrecy, unless you were one of those bad girls who nice boys weren’t allowed to go out with even though those same boys had different kinds of bad girl breast self-examination posters in their bedrooms.
You may take issue with the Komen Foundation for missteps in recent years, but you have to give credit where credit’s due. Because of Komen’s long public advocacy, we’re now able to talk about…
Sooner or later we’re going to have to admit it, that (as often times is the case) the artful words of Shakespeare still ring true today. It does not matter how long we try to perpetuate the blame game, the fault lies not with the people we admire but in ourselves that we would subject ourselves to being their underlings hopelessly devoted to following in their footsteps though the path they tread may lead to folly. You see, it really doesn’t matter what Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber, Jay-Z, or anyone else may do we as individuals are responsible for our own actions (as are they). We each wake up with twenty-four hours in a day and we have to choose how we’re going to spend it. And we could choose to ruthlessly pursue fame irregardless of who we may hurt in the process (ourselves included), we could continue to perpetuate hatred and negative stereotypes by acting in a manner that is beneath ourselves, we could even waste our time envying others for what they have. Or we could choose to live, to appreciate life for what it is: a fleeting second on the hands of time. We could choose to love, to hope, to dream, to take risk, to devote ourselves to that which is positive and good. No matter what we choose to do with our lives we must always remember that we made that choice and embrace it for whatever lessons it may have to teach us.
There are no seasons in the American supermarket. Now there are tomatoes all year round, grown halfway around the world, picked when it was green, and ripened with ethylene gas. Although it looks like a tomato, it’s kind of a notional tomato. I mean, it’s the idea of a tomato.
— Michael Pollan, Food Inc.
No task is more frustrating than that of shopping of women’s clothing. Every time I enter a department store I am reminded of the aforementioned idea of notional tomatoes for that seems to be the mindset of designers in the women’s fashion industry, to create clothing suited for the notion of a woman instead of the accommodation of what a woman actually is. Women come in all shapes and sizes and the clothing we buy at stores should reflect that. I am not saying that we should eat ourselves into the excess of obesity and expect designers to acquiesce to the demands of our overindulgence. However, I do firmly believe that what is found on clothing racks should resemble that of a healthy woman’s figure. It is absolutely ridiculous this self-perpetuating cycle of designers creating clothes for bodies that don’t exist and women striving to attain figures that they’ll never have. We are all so hopelessly dedicated to ideal which can not be achieved. It saddens me to think that perhaps the reason why this notion has been allowed to persist is because this may very well be how society views its women. Perhaps the women of the world themselves are just notions, ideas of what we should be, objects to have unattainable ideas hoisted upon and manipulated to fit into a mold we were not made for.
Words are powerful. Although intangible they have the power to construct and destroy hopes, dreams, ambitions, plans, even countries (think Truman and the atom bomb). The simple fact is that for the vast majority of us, our words will be the most powerful weapons we ever yield. That being said we must realize, as the oft quoted line from Spiderman states, “with great power comes great responsibility.”
Recently in an attempt to make the public more responsible for its words several well-meaning parties including that of Sheryl Sandberg, COO of LeanIn.org, an organization dedicated to empowering and encouraging girls as well as John Wooten, former professional football player and head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance have each launched separate attempts to have words they consider to be offensive banned. Sandberg, has initiated a campaign to, “ban bossy” believing that the word “bossy” is a harmful label that discourages young girls from taking leadership positions. Meanwhile, Wooten desires that the NFL ban players from using the “N-word” and incur fines and punishments on players who insist on using the word.
While I must admit that both individuals (and those supporting them) have their hearts in the right place, attempting to make the world a better place by ensuring that all individuals can assert themselves and pursue their ideals without fear of retaliation, I disagree with their methods. I believe that all words have a place in the world, even the ugly ones. Nigger, whore, bitch, retard. While all are equally unpleasant ( to say the least) I would not dare want to infringe on a person’s right to use them. Banning words is not the way to progress our society. I believe that if we truly want to empower ourselves and our posterity, instead of constantly trying to insulate ourselves from the harshness of reality we need to face it unabashedly. The world can be a ugly place sometimes, full of ugly people who say hateful things, but not all people are like this. For all the evil in the world there is some good, and I think if and when we wake up everyday and resolve to be a part of the solution, that is how we’ll make progress. Lets choose to use our words to combat the ignorance that creates stereotypes and place in its stead respect for all people. Sticks and stones may break our bones, words may cut us to the core, but scars heal with time. Right now, we have the opportunity to be agents of healing.