Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Letter to My Sisters

Dear Sisters,

I am so sorry I never heard your names before.  Your accomplishments are staggering and yet you have never showed up in any Facebook or Twitter newsfeed.

While I was looking for someone else, I unintentionally found you in a Google search.

And there you all were---your majestic images and achievements fanned out in front of me--and I finally learned about how amazing you all are.

Groundbreaking scientist, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, blind Iditarod racer, trailblazing CEO.

Had it not been for my serendipitous find, I would deny ever hearing about you.

Yet I can certainly tell you all about how much weight a reality star has lost postpartum.  I can tell you her name, the color of the baby's nursery, how much her push present was, her dress size.

Unavoidable, ubiquitous information. Everywhere you look.

Most notable was the fact that she wore her pre-pregnancy skinny jeans home from the hospital.

Yet all of you still remain relatively unknown.

Never mind that your incredible research may allow damaged bones and muscles to regenerate or help save failing organs in children.

Never mind that you finished the brutal Iditarod dog-sled race in Alaska during  100 degrees below zero blizzards.  While legally blind.

Never mind that you were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2004 for helping impoverished Kenyans become self-sustaining and champions for peace.

Never mind that you dismantled your culture's circumscribed roles for women and became one of Afghanistan's first CEOs, giving technological access and educational opportunity to many oppressed females.

Never mind that--because I just read about how much a Victoria's Secret model made last year.

Even after the sexual revolution, shattered glass ceilings and Susan Faludi's galvanizing book The Beauty Myth, many of us have been conditioned to measure our success in inches, pounds and unblemished skin.

I'm sorry your names never came up during our Ladies' Nights.

Sputtering like live, flameless coals, our physical insecurities land somewhere between well-garnished appetizer samples and lipstick-stained Margarita glasses.

The "if-onlys" are just a matter of time:

If only I had thinner thighs.
If only I had her metabolism.
If only I inherited my mother's smooth skin.
If only I could lose those ten pounds by the wedding.
If only I had longer, leaner legs.
If only I straighter, healthier hair.
If only I had more up top.
If only I were Swedish.

None of us mentioned that we hoped to be more spiritual.  More successful. More accepting.

You see, many of us still feel that when we are physically less, we are somehow profoundly more. Sadly, the converse also rings true.

Yes, caring for our bodies and our health are so important for our well-being.
But striving to be an unattainable, photoshopped ideal has divided us all.
We should not feel like the sum of our parts.  We should feel whole, period.
Shine on!
Jean-Michel Cazabat "Francesca" booties.

My dear sisters, we all need to hear more about you--and the collective strength of women everywhere--to keep us inspired, hopeful and uplifted.

Thank you, Dr. Molly Stevens, Dr. Wangari Maathai, Rachael Scdoris and Roya Mahboob.

If only you were there to join us.

With profound gratitude and love,
Kim Festa