By Kathleen Calder
I looked around at the full magazine shelf. Almost every magazine targeting women had a beautiful woman on the cover, bearing her midriff, with a headline nearby shouting something or other about learning to look like that. As if that is the way every woman should look with a little hard work, or even some “fast and easy, no-gym-required, flat tummy tips”.
I began glancing across the headlines on each one, feeling a part of me tempted to pick one up and leaf through to the section she was most interested in – the one that promised big results fast. It is swimsuit season after all. Not long before it won’t be anymore, but that’s not important. All that matters is looking good at the beach. All that matters is looking better than the woman next to you. It seems we are constantly being told to compare to each other and assess our personal worth based on what someone else has and we don’t. I’ve had several parts that grasped onto that when I was very young and have only recently started to let go of constant comparison and fervent jealousy, sometimes even hatred, of other women.
I feel that these magazines are aware that they perpetuate this toxic dynamic. They are aware that they aren’t just telling us we need to look better, but that we need to look better than each other in order to prove our worth. It doesn’t feel like something within us, or some part of us, wants to be objectified and held up as “beautiful” by media standards, but it does feel like they may want that simply as a means to an end. An end of feeling ugly and fat. An end of being lonely and mate-less. An end of feeling unworthy in comparison to other women who have somehow managed to attain what we’ve always wanted via having beauty that seems to get you everything you’ve ever dreamed of. Wouldn’t it be nice if that actually existed? All we seem to be getting instead is a “beauty” that we strive so hard to attain that we actually shut out everything that’s good. A part of me has used not having it or being it as an excuse to keep people out…to keep love out. To keep us in stalemate against other women, against a mate, and against myself. To actually stop potential friendships in their tracks because she felt “too fat” and undeserving to let them in, which I have learned is only a symptom of a much deeper problem of an ingrained sense of unworthiness and dis-empowerment.
My sense is that we, as women, are meant to nurture each other emotionally, spiritually, physically, and psychically. Magdalene, one of the faces of the Divine Mother offering a conscious connection through SoulFullHeart, offers that this is true Divine Sisterhood and it is our birthright. If we are fighting and comparing we are not dancing together. We are not uniting our feminine healing powers and working together to heal this world we live in. This world that so needs us to work together. Competition amongst women is a potent diversion from what is really at stake. United in love we are more powerful than we can imagine.
Like most women, I didn’t grow up with a healthy template for how to embody the nurturing Divine Sisterhood that Magdalene offers us. Both consciously and unconsciously, my sister and I were constantly at odds. She was good at sports and I was good at dance. There wasn’t much support or encouragement in either camp for one of us to explore the other’s chosen passion. I am as much at fault as her for not recognizing what we did to each other in this area, and all the other areas in which we would be in contest (including, of course, the area of body image and diet). I also have a sense that my mother and I had some unconscious competition going on as well. She spent time worrying about me, which in essence kept me small. My bigness and my longing to live into it scared a part of her deeply. There was also an intrinsic envy that I was willing to take the risks I did to move forward in my life, sometimes carelessly but mostly because I dared to dream and hold my desires as attainable. Something I have never felt her hold as a possibility for herself.
Competition amongst females is so ingrained in the psyche of women that it’s hard to be acutely conscious of it. It becomes “normal” for us to criticize each other openly or even to simply look each other up and down, scanning for weaknesses or something we have that they don’t and vice versa. I’m exhausted by this dynamic and find myself longing for more women to be conscious of it so we can work through it together. This doesn’t come without great courage and a recognition that there indeed is a problem and something needs to change. My relationship with Jillian and my growing Magdalene-consciousness, has helped me to find my courage and a new template for how we can relate to each other as women. They have helped me become aware of all of the ways in which I was unconsciously attempting to compete with Jillian and together we are finding our way to Divine Sisterhood. She has also given me a new template for how to relate to my body, which has been of huge importance in shifting toxic dynamics between myself and other women.
My parts’ relationship to my body is and always has been at the root of my drive to compete. For some reason, the female body has been seen as problematic and it has been shoved down our throats, literally, by these magazines telling us what to eat and what to do to look “good”. This totally dis-empowers us with regard to our own bodies. Magdalene offers that it is actually innate for women to know what they need to eat and when for what reason. It is not so mental and research-based, though that can help if we don’t take it too seriously. We are women and we are naturally intuitive. It is actually very patriarchal to think there is a textbook-way to take care of our bodies and look our best. It is also very patriarchal to think there is only one way we should look and that we should strive for that no matter what the cost to our souls, bodies and hearts.
I am imagining now how different the world would be if we stopped competing and chose love instead. It’s a powerful picture…and the global healing that could arise from such efforts would be tremendous. We have only to put down the magazines and look inside ourselves.
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