I Am More than the Shape of My Ass…Aren’t I?

Via on Apr 12, 2012

You can fight it, or you can just accept that sex sells.

Let me tell you a bit about me so you have a frame of reference. I’m not ugly. That’s about as good as I’ve ever been able to muster for myself on a lot of days. Sure, given the right lighting and circumstances and occasion, I have been some or all of the following: cute, intriguing, pretty and even sexy a few times.

What I’ve never been (and it’s okay, seriously, don’t try to talk to me out of it or anything, this is not fishing for compliments), is a knockout. I’ve never been that girl that guys hold the door for, or run into a wall checking her out, or had men fight over, or stalk…or any of that stuff that comes from being a particular “look.” And yes, it’s okay. Although, it has caused me pain over the years and it has made me think long and hard about human nature and colors how I react to things, it no longer defines me as a human or a woman (well maybe it does in a way, just not negatively so).

In all fairness, I’ve never really been one to spend too much time primping and preening. Well, that’s not entirely true, I did once upon a time. But, besides the fact that it was expensive and boring, it really didn’t seem to get me anywhere but miserable. No matter how hard I tried,

I just didn’t seem to live up to whatever ideal I was chasing…

and it was painful for a lot of my life. You see, I’m more a jeans, t shirt, no makeup, ponytail gal (granted that this is partly dictated by my love of motorcycle riding). I came into my tomboyish ways by relaxing and accepting that my worth is beyond my curves, my green eyes or thick hair. It’s beyond my large pores or my acne flare ups, as well, and now my grandma lines and wrinkles. My worth has very little to do with whether or not I can get free stuff, ’cause I have a rockin’ bod, whether I could be a Playboy model or on the cover of a magazine or not. My worth has finally come to me, but it wasn’t always that way.

I was once told that I was the ugliest girl that this one boy had ever seen (circa 1984, if you are wondering what the shelf life of painful memories might be). I had a friend just a few years ago say, “Well, it’s easier for you because you aren’t conventionally attractive” (yeah, I don’t know what is easier or what it meant, but somehow it hurt).

I’ve also had people tell me I’m beautiful and stunning and gorgeous (funny how those don’t stand out as specific events for me). I’ve lost parts in plays and jobs to prettier women—I knew it and they knew it. And in those moments, I was occasionally devastated. Now it just is what it is. It no longer defines my worth, and in no way diminishes who those people were or their accomplishments.

The truth is, I’m living an awesome life!

Over the years I’ve had lovers and husbands (and yeah, many I have tortured due to my own lack of self-esteem, but that’s a whole other Oprah!) and everything in between—because contrary to what beer commercials and makeup counter clerks tell you, love and happiness are attainable without Angeline Jolie or Cindy Crawford looks. But what has changed, besides being more accepting and rejoicing in who I am, I mean besides learning to be myself, are the feelings of jealousy and the desire to be something other than me.

Okay, full disclosure, sometimes I do still wish that men would fall all over themselves to help me out when my car dies or I drop something in the store…but hey, I have survived this long right? Sometimes I wish I could just not work and have everything bought for me…sometimes I feel that way, and then I come to my senses. Besides, my husband pretty much makes up for all of that, so I’m not too worried about it.

What has also changed is that now I actually get hurt when people say things like bimbo or trophy-wife and reduce our aesthetically blessed sisters to their looks.

I also get really annoyed when people presume a pretty girl can’t be a smart or kind girl. It ticks me right off. Maybe I’m a little protective because I used to be that average girl that demeaned the beautiful.

Blah blah blah—okay so you are some normal looking woman with a normal life that has learned to love herself and not hate the hotties. It’s really not that new, so why now? Why this article? Why today?

It started this morning on Skype chat with some other elephant writers and editors as we talked about getting readers and the subject of “sexy sells” came up…which it usually does…because it does (no matter how much I want it not to be true, it is—deal with it).

I was lamenting the facts and stated, “Just because it sells doesn’t make it right.” I lament a lot of things—it’s a quirk! So, I started my day thinking about how sad it is that people more often click on the link with the picture of the hot chick, and how can I boost my own readership without stooping to that tactic? Is it stooping? Isn’t it celebrating beauty? (To Waylon’s credit he was adamant that we not just use sexy to sell for the hell of it, that we only use appropriately connected works and I really respect him for that). But the truth is readership goes up on articles when something sexy (or controversial) is in title or the picture? How does it ever change?

I wondered if I was just being a great big feminist whiner. I mean, who does it really hurt?

That’s when a link popped up in another group I belong to (I think I may belong to too many groups? Hmmmm…Okay, that is another story too, I guess). The name of the blog post simply read “Are you a boob?” Now, at first I was thinking boob as in a dork or silly person or idiot, but I was mistaken. Honestly, I’m not sure why I clicked on the link. There was no picture, and I thought I could already answer the question, but considering the source (a cool group of Womyn Entrepreneurs. Let me know if you want in!), I took a leap (okay, sure, perhaps I was procrastinating and not doing my homework, but it worked out okay, so I’m just going with it.)

The first line of the blog post:

“Woman…who are you? What are you; mystical, smart, enchanting, and compassionate? What defines you?  Are you a body part?  You know what I mean!  Are you defined by your size, shape or overall ‘looks’?”

Well you piqued my interest there Miss Sharon G. Cobb! Next lines?

“Or are you like me?  Simply a real woman…with hopes, dreams, thoughts, feelings, talents, gifts, strengths and weaknesses? Frankly, I’m tired of being ‘viewed’ as anything else!  I am certainly NOT a boob, butt, waist, plump lips or any of the like.’ (sic)

“Here! Here!” I say (I’ll let you read the rest of the post on your own…it’s okay, I’ll wait). So, there you have it. Miss Cobb is calling for a new revolution, and like me, isn’t so happy with the status quo that sex sells, and the blatant over-sexualization of women.  And that somehow it’s all okay, when in fact it may be harming our very spirits.

So you talked about sex sells, you read a blog post that you could say “Ha! See told you so.”  But still, really, why today?

Alright, so here’s the next nail in the coffin of why I had to write this post and write it today! Fast forward a few more hours in my day and I’m doing my school work (along with too many groups, I also have too many projects. I have mentioned I’m quirky, right?)  This week’s lesson? No, seriously, you can’t make this stuff up (well, maybe you could, but I’m not that clever!). Social influence.

Oh yeah, and what does the teacher spend half of the class talking about? How his hypnosis videos get more views if he is hypnotizing a pretty girl, and about experiments that show that men are basically idiots when faced with a pretty girl. I’m not trying to be mean guys, it’s just a fact that men actually lose cognitive ability and make less well thought out decisions when confronted with boobs.  Seriously, men will do some things for certain “desirable mates” they just won’t do for others.

And then he linked us to this article, “Ten politically incorrect truths about human nature.”

Here’s how my teacher, Brian David Phillips, summed up the article, in case the name wasn’t enticing enough:

“Alan Miller, PhD, has compiled a fascinating list of potentially politically incorrect truths from psychology that are simply confounding yet oh so true—seriously, we may wish some of these were false but they’re not . . . our uncomfortable psychological truths? Here’s the list:

Men like blond bombshells (and women want to look like them).

Humans are naturally polygamous.

Most women benefit from polygyny, while most men benefit from monogamy.

Most suicide bombers are Muslim.

Having sons reduces the likelihood of divorce.

Beautiful people have more daughters.

What Bill Gates and Paul McCartney have in common with criminals.

The midlife crisis is a myth—sort of.

It’s natural for politicians to risk everything for an affair (but only if they’re male).

Men sexually harass women because they are not sexist.”

Now, I know some of you read that list and, at one or two items, you shouted out, “Bullshit!” or some stronger expression. I know, I could hear you all the way over here.

(Yeah, I know you want to go back and read it now. Of course, I’ll wait again).

So, here I was, faced with a blog post talking about how the over-sexualization of women is a huge detriment to our self-esteem and self worth, and my own battle with insecurities and desire to at once honor beauty, but not allow it to be the measure or standard to which I held myself and others. Then I was faced with scientific evidence that a lot of that crap is just how we are made.

So here’s what I did. If you are still reading (heck, I can’t believe I am still writing), I’ll fill you in.

Thank you for participating in my social influence/psychology experiment.  

I would like for you to scroll back up and see what picture is at the top of this page, and then ask yourself if you clicked on this article because of it? Maybe in spite of it? Please be honest, because what I have done is put this exact same article out twice with two different lead in pictures. Making every attempt to get each version equal visibility, I am testing the hypothesis that the “hot bod” will get more clicks than the “ass.” So what drew you in? The title? The description? The pic? A combo? 

Oh, and in case you are wondering, I don’t have the answer to any of it. I don’t want beauty to be the only thing we measure ourselves by, but I don’t want beautiful and sexy people to made to feel bad (that’s just nuts). I want young girls to feel good about themselves, all young girls (and boys too). I also want life to be sexy and juicy too. I just don’t know how to make it all work together sometimes, do you?

{Update: Our results were telling – during the initial post with the donkey as the thumbnail the article received 324 hits in 25 hours. During the second 25 hours, with the naked yoga photo as the lead in, the post received a total of 1080 hits—nearly double the views! We would love to hear your view on this phenomenon and what drew you in to viewing the article. Thank you for your input.}

~

Editor: Kate Bartolotta

About Aminda R. Courtwright

Aminda is a wellness facilitator and founder of ARCreated Wellness, LLC. A yoga teacher, transpersonal hypnotherapist, and Reiki Master, she shares her own healing journey with others in hopes of inspiring and uplifting those she meets. Her yoga classes are gentle and workshop style to invoke a real sense of learning and designed to be truly accessible for all levels. Her biggest hope is to help others take their yoga practice off the mat and into everyday life where it is truly meant to be experienced. (and can be most useful) Refusing to settle into the middle path just yet she prefers to dally on both edges and can be seen swinging right and leaning left. A devoted animal lover and activist and a humanist she is prone to rants and believes strongly that life is to be savored and that “we are all in this together, shouldn’t we enjoy it that way? “ When she isn’t teaching yoga, hypnotizing people, adoring her husband or doting on her grandson she is out riding her motorcycle—promoting the image that yogis are rebels and are a force to be reckoned with! You can also find her on Facebook. To join her for free classes online follow her here.

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22 Responses to “I Am More than the Shape of My Ass…Aren’t I?”

  1. Larry says:

    I clicked on the title which was in an rss feed as a link. I wanted to see if the shape of your ass was awesome enough to define you or if it was some test of my maleness. I smiled when I saw the photo of the burro. Then I read the article, well done exploration of the complexities – are the complexities what we need to focus on? I like looking at womens' asses. I also very much enjoy getting to know women as the complex magical beings they are.

    • well said…and I think that is maybe where it lies…appreciate the curve but not defining women as JUST that..perhaps it doesn't have to be so complex! (My husband thinks my ass is awesome I think many of my other qualities are more important — but I also like that he likes my assets :P)

  2. James Vincent Knowles jamesvincentknowles says:

    What drew me in to read this article was the same thing that draws me in to all women . . . mystery. Of course most men are attracted to a certain aesthetic! That is more than an obvious universal truth. Ah, but what keeps this man's attention? The infinity beauty all woman possess . . . inside. But okay, I'm 59 and when I see a beautiful woman I feel like I'm 40, haha… And when ANY woman speaks to me, I look into her eyes. If she's actually paying attention, she'll see my soul is smiling and she might even hear my heart beating. I can't say for sure because I'm just one dude, but i'm guessing any real man, any grown up man, knows a real woman has a lot more going on for her than her arse. namaste

    • beautiful!!! thanks so much.
      Truth is my husband adores me and tells me I'm beautiful everyday and I'm sure that much of what he "see's" is what he feels. I love to know that more men rise above biology and see the full value of other "people" :)

  3. Anna says:

    I clicked on the article because I thought it would be written from a horse's perspective (or rather I realize after the article a donkey's or ass' perspective). It wasn't until I got to the line about no make up and jeans that I figured out it was written by a woman.

  4. Valerie Carruthers ValCarruthers says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Spirituality Homepage.

    Valerie Carruthers
    Please go and "Like" Elephant Spirituality on Facebook

  5. For a report from sharon cobb that also helped inspired this post go here: https://app.getresponse.com/site/sharoncobb/webfo

  6. Love this. The whole sex sells thing annoys me too. Stupidity, violence, and mockery sell too. (jersey shore, and almost every other reality sow) but does that mean its worth lowering ourselves down that low? How about something edifying? How about we start teaching our kids that what makes a person beautiful is what lives in the heart.
    Thanks for this piece. Will happily share

  7. marylee says:

    By the way I clicked because of the title

  8. Love this article. Thanks for writing it. The whole sex sells thing annoys me. Stupidity, hatred, and violence sells too ( every reality show) but that doesn't mean we all have to buy into it. How about something edifying? Let's teach our kids that real beauty is found in another's heart, intentions and the way they move through this world,

    Thanks for this article will happily share

  9. Valerie Carruthers ValCarruthers says:

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Spirituality Homepage.

    Valerie Carruthers
    Please go and "Like" Elephant Spirituality on Facebook

  10. mel says:

    I actually googled "I am more than what I look like", which is how I found your article.

    I am so so sick of people (especially other women) seeing the way I look on the outside and not actually getting to know me. If I became horribly disfigured tomorrow, I would still be me. I think the world would be better if we actually cared about developing who we are individually and getting to know each other as individual people, instead of focusing on things that don't last and frankly don't matter. Looks fade over time and once thats gone all we will have is who we've become.

    I think honoring and enjoying beauty is good. I also believe that beauty comes from many different places and the most important thing is to be beautiful inside, to develop yourself (find your likes, talents, passions in life), to love yourself (be confident in who you are, not what you look like) and to love those around you for the people that they are.

    Thanks for your article, I really feel you on this!

    • amen sister!!! It really is a tragedy both directions. You know the "mean" girls in school that dissed the "unattractive" ones and the geeks that hated the pretty people…it goes both ways and we all need to start looking past to the truly deeper meaning!

      thank you for you passionate and insightful comment.

      • missbernklau says:

        Thanks for your blog! Also I clicked on it for the title, not the picture, the title was inciting enough hehe. I agree, it's coming on both ends, women hating other women for being pretty, chastising other women for not being pretty "enough", telling fat women to "get on a treadmil" and in the same breath telling thin women to "go eat a sandwich". It's sad but I really think women do a lot of the damage to themselves and each other, and of course the media and endless subtle cues that tell us we ought to spend more time worrying about stretch marks and lip hair and all this shit that doesn't even matter, are not helping the cause. I'm just not sure what can be done to stop the madness. But the VERY first thing women can do is stop hating each other and start having compassion for the struggle we ALL go through (men too): accepting ourselves.

  11. [...] clearly liquor companies are always going to use sex to sell, but what does it say about who has the buying power if now instead of a girl in a skimpy bikini, [...]

  12. Sharon Saw says:

    I loved this article. I was drawn by the title… and then by the content… so i read to the end and enjoyed every bit of it. Sex does sell… and it doesn't have to be conventional beauty. An attractive person can be someone who is simply passionate about something and the shine in their eyes and gleaming smile (yes.. fine line between gleaming and manic) is what makes them hot! External is the initial draw but it has to be backed up by the internal, plus all the crazy dynamics of relationships and simply getting along with each other.. otherwise all the beautiful women in the women would never be divorced or cheated on. I love this blog called The Effortless Beauty (http://theeffortlessbeauty.com/wordpress/) which I adore for the author's tongue in cheek treatment of beauty and all its stereotypes in the world. You two would have lots to share! Thanks for an insightful and lovely read!

  13. Jamie says:

    This article totally rocks! It's so everything I think and everything I would write too, so it's encouraging and just-wow to see someone else thinking in this way. I am a girl who will always be a little bit fat – that's okay with me, but it's so not okay with so many people around me who have made it a subject more talked about than revolutions happening in North Africa, or natural disasters in Indonesia. I'm trying to reposition ideas of beauty – that yes, it's okay to indulge in looking good sometimes: go on, buy that stick of eyeliner! Spoil yourself and get your hair done nicely in a salon. But for goodnessssssakes don't make it the only driving force in your daily lives. I've been meeting a lot of incredibly beautiful people, who you may not notice at first glance, for they are not stunning, but because their personalities are huge and what they do for the world is far beyond what a merely beautiful face could do. This is what lasts and inspires – it's what makes people stop, look, pay attention and ultimately, keep going back for more.

    So anyway, this is turning into a blog post of its own. Thanks again for the refreshing insights, keep rocking on. You're beautiful by the way you write, express and think alone!

  14. [...] I may not have gotten the body I wanted when I first started practicing yoga, but yoga gave me the body I need. It gave me back my strength, it gave me back my curves and it gave me back my ass. [...]

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