Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Define yourself.

Girl in the mirror REMIXED - the fabulous ms m vs Picasso. 

Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself. 

- Harvey Fierstein

Define yourself” she says to me speaking directly to me but across another friend while standing within arms length. It’s an unusual interview with me on one side and a good friend sandwiched in the middle. She proceeds to voice to him loud enough for me to hear, “I’m confused by her answer” and throws me shade while I do my best to keep up a smile. 

It’s always best to give bad news to anyone with a smile. Don’t you think? A sympathetic smile to let them know you aren’t the enemy but you must disappoint. It’s tried and true advice I once decided upon the moment I had to deliver the bad news to a lovely fellow that things were over in nothing. He seemed to take things quite well when I smiled.  So from that day I never forget to smile with understanding. 

Which brings me back to the smiling face of my in-between friend who, like me, hasn’t broken his amidst her incessant demand for an answer when none is needed. Should I have to account for myself to someone else? I shouldn’t. No one should. 

Define yourself. Is it that simple? To always know what’s best for you instead of letting someone else dictate what they think is best for you. To be perfectly honest... it should always be that simple. 

But how does this definition extend itself to “who” we are and interact with others? Are others surrounding us allowed to call into question the way we live our life or is it any of their business? I’m inclined to lean toward the latter question. You see, it’s not really anyone’s concern how I choose to define myself or live my life. The pure purpose of others in or around your life is to love and support you in how you define yourself. If they can not then perhaps they should redefine their own purpose in life. 

The only definition you have for yourself in this life should be the one you set for yourself. As children we are taught that in order to grow up certain things must happen. We must talk accordingly, dress accordingly, live accordingly and so on... 

As young women this often extends itself to the glamorization or objectification of oneself as a sexual object. It’s one thing to grow up wishing to be seen as sexy and quite another to be seen as a slut. Women tend to forget that they hold so much power in their movements and dress that sexual power exudes naturally. For the most part a woman need not shed a single drop of clothing to extend the full power of her sexuality. 

For men the definition often extends to the masculine role of dominance, aggression and any other stereotype that involves toughness. It’s in this that most perceptions are lost. Men are quite capable of the love, compassion and emotion groundwork that women give forth in relationships. The most power a man has is in his ability to demonstrate self-control. There’s strength and self awareness in the choice to know limitation. 

Women and men are capable of reversing gender roles and identities. Which is where I’m finding myself answering my friend’s friend with her challenge of definition. A woman can write, create, design, etc and remain constant in her beliefs. Much like a man has the capability to write, create, design, etc for women and it is not questioned in the least.  

Shakespeare wrote many of his plays with female characters fully developed later to be played by men on the stage. Yet we never stop to question that man’s definition of himself... Do we? Cate Blanchett portrayed a unique depiction of Bob Dylan for the screen and successfully bested her male counterparts in technique and composition of character. The audience never stops to gasp in wonder of how she defines herself at the end of the scene... Do they?  

Is society still hell-bent on living in the dark ages where there are imposed prejudices on what we do not understand? It’s hard to believe that men and women have come so far only to be shaped by the hands of others when they clearly are capable of shaping themselves. In choosing to define oneself it is challenging, but it promises the most discovery and loyalty that a person can give themselves through personal growth. And if you choose to define yourself... know that you will never find yourself in the compromising position of having to tell someone that they got you saying the wrong thing or photographed in an unflattering light because you’ll know what and where you wanted to be in the first place. Oh and next time you wish for someone to define themselves... try defining yourself first. 


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