Lately, I’ve been thinking about the commodification of the body. The female body, the marginalized body. I’ve been thinking about all the ways we manipulate our internal and external selves out of fear.
Because, what if he doesn’t like me or she rejects me? What if my parents think I’m a loser or my boss thinks I’m stupid? What if I’m not pretty? Or sexy in the way my demographic is supposed to be sexy? What if I am old and no one looks at me anymore? Or my kids think I’m irrelevant? What if my voice is unacceptable?
In a recent interview with Brene Brown, singer songwriter Jake Wesley Rogers explained that being in musical theater in high school made it ok to be gay. It was ok to be gay if he was also funny, and could sing, if he could entertain. How traumatic to make yourself useful to feel safe!
Thank God Jake Wesley Rogers didn’t stop singing, but it’s worth it to ask ourselves: How much of who we are is a response to the fear of rejection? To the need to feel safe? How much of what we wear or say or don’t say or love comes from a deep well of dark memories, unconscious triggers, and generations of exploitation?
Only we know the pertinent questions to ask; only we know the answers. But fear of rejection—never a good motivation. Love of self, that’s the trip we need to take. Easy to say, hard to do, but we can take baby steps by replacing the inner critic with the inner “you got this and by the way, you are damn amazing”, and the outer critics with—well, they’ve just got to go. I came across a line recently from the Marilyn Hacker poem “Alcaics for a Wedding”; she writes Love’s an airport, where all signs today read arrivals.
Let’s put out the welcome mat.