I love the musical “The King and I”. And I love Yul Brynner’s portrayal of the king in the 1956 film version with Deborah Kerr. But one of my least favorite quotes of all time is from this film, when Brynner’s king says, “A girl is like a blossom, with honey for just one man. A man is like a honey bee to gather all he can. To fly from blossom to blossom a honey bee must be free. But blossom must never fly from bee to bee to bee.”
Can I get a collective, “uuuuggggghhhhh”?????!!!
When was this EVER ok? Um….like till yesterday! Or, depending on who you talk to, even now.
Regardless of your sexual orientation, religion, physical challenges, height, age, ethnicity, political affiliation or nationality (I’m sure I’m missing some important categories–sorry!), if you identify as female, you probably identify with this. I am imagining many of you silently nodding your heads, remembering times in your life when your body was not your home, when it was the canvas others would paint on, when your perfect expression of your physical appearance did not match the collective definition of what a body should look like, when your voice was too loud or your hair too-whatever!
I recently came across a poem by Nayyirah Wahid, entitled “Three”. The following lines brought tears to my eyes: “and i said to my body. softly. ‘i want to be your friend.’ it took a long breath. and replied ‘i have been waiting my whole life for this.’”
Now, can I get a collective long exhale? A long out-breath, a letting go of all that stuff that kept us from befriending our bodies, from being or feeling anything other than what felt right for us? See, it’s not about whether you wear makeup or work out or wear trousers or skirts or eat Twinkies or green juice; it’s about why you do what you do. Do you make choices out of love, honoring your perfect body or are you trying to be something you think you’re supposed to be? Do you hide away the scars of sexual or emotional abuse, convinced that if anyone really knew you, they’d reject you? Your body, your story, all the stuff you did and all the stuff done to you is all acceptable, all worthy of embracing, all worthy of healing and love and maybe even a little laughter from time to time. (I personally find laughter very therapeutic. Maybe it’s my dark absurd humor that appeared after many years of living in Russia. I love Russia, don’t get me wrong, but it can be a dark place and sometimes the only way you can make it through is to find the humor.)
It’s time to come home. Into our bodies. It’s time to celebrate our particular iteration of what a body is. So Yul, I love ya, but nah…I’m not going to be anyone’s blossom.