Operation Caffeination

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The eye of the beholder

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What would the world be like if, whenever we called a person “pretty,” we ran an instant replay in our heads…but this time around, instead of saying pretty, we said,  “I find you visually appealing.”

I just started doing this myself a few days ago, and it has changed how I interact with my daughter. Obviously, I should compliment and affirm my daughter’s physical traits, but I should also be aware that when I do that I am subtly shifting the conversation away from Melia and on to myself, my likes and dislikes and opinions. These kinds of labels say a lot more about the tagger than the tagged.

I haven’t had time to check, but I’m sure dozens of truly brilliant feminist thinkers have already written on this topic, as seems to be the case any time I think I’ve stumbled on an important thought. Novel or not, though, it IS important. A child who is routinely objectified from infancy on must eventually struggle to develop a sense of their own individual identity. How can this child respect their own self-worth if, from as far back as they can remember, the important people in their lives have unconsciously trained them to consider their value only in light of their relationships?

And then, of course, if my Self is inextricably wound up in you, what will become of me when you reject me, belittle me, put me down, discourage me from pursuing my own ambitions or make demands of me? How can I fight back against my own definition?

We all need to have that one person in our lives who accepts us just the way we are; I wonder how many of us are also willing to fill that role in the lives of others.


Written by GRSeim

September 23, 2011 at 7:20 am

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