January 29, 2012

The Goddess Within?

I've been moderately bothered and confused by photos that have been circulating (within my circle of friends) on Facebook lately. Wow, I just noticed that "Facebook" must be considered a proper word now ~ my editor didn't underline it in red when I typed it ~ how strange (disturbing?) 

Anyway, the photo(s) were taken by Leonard Nimoy depicting some seriously obese nude women in various artistic poses (they're not naughty guys - but read on anyway...) with the message that women should reclaim their bodies ~ their "Goddess-like" forms...yada yada. Now, why is "yada" not considered a proper word? The little red squiggly underline just screamed at me and "yada" has been around longer than "Facebook"...hmm?

Full Body Project and Photo by Leonard Nimoy

Folks (mostly Pagan/Witchy women) were commenting at how beautiful and wonderful the photos and their subjects were...with all kinds of eloquent words to describe how thrilled they were at Nimoy's artistic photography, the admiration they felt toward the models, and so on, but I didn't "get it". In fact, I had found that viewing the photos actually raised the bile up into my throat a bit. Granted, I am NOT an artist, so perhaps that is why I'm missing the point.

The term, "goddess" has several noble definitions...none of which mentions being larger (or smaller) than a healthy weight...yet, some stores will refer to the plus sized clothing as "goddess sizes". Among the definitions are:
A female being of supernatural powers or attributes, believed in and worshiped by a people;
A woman of great beauty or grace.

So I asked myself, "what exactly is beauty? grace?". As if a film were playing in my head, "grace" was NOT the term that came to mind when I imagined the woman above trying to get into (or out of) this pose. To me, "beauty" is apparent when any person of any size (preferably clothed at the time) walks confidently and responsibly through life, caring for herself and her environment with inspiring words and actions intended to positively influence or affect life around her...and in order to do that effectively, she (or he - not trying to be gender-biased here folks), must first respect herself, be comfortable in her own skin for who she is, and willing to "be the change she wishes to see in the world".

I have failed to comprehend how embracing unhealthy obesity (or self-starvation...either one) is being "Goddess-like". How would this be beneficial to an individual...or to those who admire her? True, I am guilty of indulging in the realms of the "Bacardi Goddess" and "Marlboro God" far too often, yet, in my defense, I recognize the horrors I've inflicted upon myself over the years and take steps (every day, I might add) to create and maintain a healthy "balance".

While the women depicted in the "beautiful" photos by Nimoy are likely attractive and goddess-like within, in order to truly be goddess-like; to reclaim their healthy feminine forms; they would need shovels to gather themselves up into massive piles in order to DO something "goddess-like" about their current physical states. 

So, yes, accept yourself in the skin you're in but please don't defile the Gods and Goddesses by failing to love yourself enough to try and CARE for your body or mind...by failing to try and emulate Them...nor by leading others to believe that being obese is what being a "Goddess" really means.
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Inspired by her Native American roots and Bradbury lineage, Polly Taskey is a writer and grandmother in the northern USA.  She shares her wisdom and pagan interests through Pagan by Design and The Moonlit Grove.

20 Comments:

Nicole said...

Very well written.

There's a book by Diane Sylvan called 'The Body Sacred' that talks about this kind of stuff. The primary focus of the book is how to love your body and see yourself as a Goddess, but she never goes to the point of emulating a Goddess.

Polly said...

Thank you Nicole, I see the book has a five-star rating at Amazon and can be gotten used from just $1.00 so I will be checking into it. Blessings

Vivienne Moss said...

Love this post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, many of which I agree with.

DJ said...

Actually, it *is* the Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek fame.

Liza Llewelyn said...

A point I must try to make is that sometimes people appear to "be failing to love themselves enough to try and CARE for their body or mind... if all you do is judge them on what you see. Three years ago, I weighed 125 and was in great shape. Then I became ill with Systemic Lupus and know after nearly two years of steroids and other drugs I weigh 170. Its made quite a difference on my 5'3" body. One of the biggest obstacles in addition to learning to live with a chronic disease has been to still love myself and know my own self worth is whats inside and not just the me people see on the outside...

Love the blog, just hoping to shed the possiblility of another perspective. These photo's show me that maybe I can once again love myself for more than what the mirror beholds.

Blessed be...

Polly said...

DJ, thank you for correcting me! I've edited the post to end confusion on that matter. ;)

Polly said...

Liza, I can definitely relate to your point of view and I'm glad you're offering a varying perspective. I, too, know what it's like to have AutoImmune disorders screw with my weight...when they began storming in 1999 I had gained 6 pounds per week no matter WHAT I did or didn't do. This is NOT an easy thing to swallow - doubling in size over a span of 10 weeks - for a woman who is 5'9" and has always been about size 9, thin and muscular. Today, I am 44 and about 50 pounds over optimal weight but have debilitating pain and weakness (Fibro and a few others) effectively preventing me from exercise.

I did not intend to downplay the very serious conditions which leave us with little or no options regarding our weight, abilities or appearances. I'm simply a bit "turned off" by seeing people depicted in this way (the photos) and then suggesting it is "goddess-like".

I do understand what feelings of "self-disgust" are like (regarding my appearance, abilities, memory and concentration issues, etc etc) and am increasingly angered by the effects of the diseases upon me.

Blessings to you, and thank you again for sharing your very valid views. :)

Pagan_Pamela said...

to me... i think the godess form the photographer is trying to make is that beauty is on the inside and that lady had the courage to not be ashamed of her body and is basically saying that she is how she was made by the goddess and is proud. and who knows, may be she has tried to loose wieght but can't...

Kallan said...

In an effort to help you understand, the reason plus sizes are referred to this way, and the reason why goddess may be associated with 'obesity' has to do with one of the oldest images of a goddess found (Venus of Willendorf), and the fact that in ancient times, one became obese through prosperity.. most goddesses represented fecundity, abundance, wealth, etc... I'm sure you see the correlation, so I won't belabor the point. People come in all shapes and sizes.. women especially.. not all are able to control those sizes and not all are unhealthy. It's funny how when one is shown to be anorexic, thin to an unhealthy point, we consider them sexy, but the pictures like the one you show produce revulsion. We're a victim of our own devices- those being television, print media, etc... each to his/her own.

ltyson said...

Polly, thank you... I actually am guilty by my own judgements. I confess I just recently (last week) came across your blog and had not until after I posted my comment read your personal information. Although, my view would have been the same. I at the very least would have known that you understood the changing effects of an autoimmune disease and Fibro as well. Healing energy and gentle hugs to you!
Blessed be...

Polly said...

Pamela, thank you for stating several thoughts that had crossed my mind as well but I wasn't sure how to put into words.

Polly said...

Kallan, thank you for sharing your insights. I had been aware of some of the earliest Goddess forms being "large". I had thought (perhaps mistakenly) that they were representing the fruitful (pregnant?) and nourishing form of "Mother Earth" rather than actual people.

I agree that "typically" people think anorexic is sexy. I am NOT one of them. I think that my points may have been misconstrued...I am not attempting to judge this woman or any other woman by her appearance - I would just hope that people will not accept or seek out obesity (if they have the ability to be healthy) because of messages like these.

When I meet/know a person I do not "see" their physical state - I "see" the heart and soul within...none of the rest matters to me. Perhaps it is because Nimoy left us nothing BUT the most raw and blatantly unhealthy physical state that I feel sickened and defensive of my Goddesses.

Thank you for your comments! :)

Diandra said...

Although I will readily admit that these pictures do not show my personal beauty ideal, I do not find the mrepulsive. All humans are beautiful, no matter what their size is or how much they weigh or whether they are trying to change or not, and from an artistic point of view these pictures are really good.

However, with many Pagans I have seen a tendency to say, "The Divine wants us to enjoy our lives" and take that as an excuse to eat icecream and crisps all the time (I used to be one of those), effectively disabling themselves to DO things they might enjoy (besides eating). This might be where the comments you mention in your post come from.

I know people who are trying to gain weight and can't, no matter what (yes, it does happen). I know people who are morbidly obese because of medication. I also know people who are morbidly obese because of emotional problems. All of them are beautiful, and I wish they would love themselves enough to present themselves this way (or any other "freeing" way).

Polly said...

Diandra, Thank you for your enlightening comments. I can relate to your views even if I have not effectively put my thoughts into words with this post. Also, I know a few people trying to gain weight and cannot - one of them being my son, another is my sister-in-law, and yet another was my best friend in high school who hung himself at the age of 17 - breaking the hearts of so many he had touched with his awesome personality. (No one knows if his hyper metabolism keeping him so thin was the cause of his pain).

My prior boss, and very good friend of several years, has difficulty with being quite overweight - not by her choice - but she is one of the wisest, strongest and most confident and "comfortable-in-her-own-skin" people I know. I envy her in some ways. Maybe "that" is what some are seeing in Nimoy's photos. At any rate, his "Project" has got people talking. Maybe that was his intention. ;)

Polly said...

ltyson, No worries, I did not feel you had "judged" me any more than I meant to come across like I was judging the subjects of the photos.

Love and Light :)

Salem Witch Child said...

As was already mentioned in ancient times a plus sized woman was considered beautiful because that meant she was not required to work. She was provided for. She was a status symbol of wealth and prosperity.

Its unfortunate you can't see the beauty in the picture. She's by no means repulsive. Think of the courage she had to have to subject herself to comments like yours. That in itself is beauty to me.

Polly said...

Salem, thank you for sharing your views.

Polly said...

Before I move away from this post, I'd like to point out that in everything we do, every day, we are subject to the opinions of others. People make judgments about things they encounter every day. We're judged during job interviews, for the material we write and submit to editors, for the way we present ourselves, drive, dress, act, raise our kids, and so on. Every time we "put ourselves out there", we're opening ourselves to the opinions and judgments of others. So...what's the big deal with "having" an opinion?

Everyone is entitled to their opinions - including me. When I embraced Paganism, it was partly because I choose to HAVE an opinion - an opinion that, to ME, is rational, and to think for myself rather than blindly follow the lead of others. Within the Pagan community there will probably always be those somewhat irrational ones (usually newbies) who seem to think that Paganism is all about "fluffy, trippy, I love and accept everything and everyone now - even if it didn't sit well with me before - cuz now I'm Pagan".

For those who didn't read the introduction on the "Full Body Project", Nimoy presented these women (who happen to be VERY confident and maintain their large sizes in order to be included in the "Fat Bottom Girls" burlesque shows) to the public with the intention of getting people to "talk". He accomplished his goal. I accomplished MY goal of stirring up interest in my blog after weeks of being "out of the loop". I don't think I've ever had a post receive so many responses and of such a passionate nature. Thank you to all of you who shared your views.

If anyone thinks less of me because I'm still turned off by grotesquely obese (they're quite a bit MORE than "plus size" as was mentioned earlier, wouldn't you think?) people, then that's fine. I put my thoughts out there - subjected them to being judged - just as Nimoy and this group of ladies put themselves out there.

Bright Blessings ~

Kallan said...

Polly, I'd like to be clear that my post for you was in no way meant to be judgmental. In fact, I do understand why you feel the way you do. Unhealthy is scary on either end of the 'weight' spectrum. Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. I think Nimoy's project is simply to help with self-esteem and bring about a more tolerant, less judgmental world view. However, since I am not him, I can't say that's the intent with any absolute certainty. Images of goddesses evolve as we do. You completely entitled to your opinion and views. *hugs*

Polly said...

No worries, Kallan! I understand that people have differing ideas and perceptions. I am not upset if people don't agree with everything I say, think, or do.

Hugs back...to one of the people I respect and admire above many in the Pagan/Witchy community. :)

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