January 10, 2017

The “Mannequin Challenge”—are we not Moving Forward?

The “Mannequin Challenge,” where people freeze, completely still in one position—not even blinking or cracking a smile—is taking the internet by storm.

Hilarious videos of us all holding in place, without even a twitch of our posture, saturate social media and make us laugh. People are even getting their pets into the act, taping while their dog or cat holds perfectly still and remains silent.

Not only is this trend just downright entertaining and fun to watch, but it presents the fantasy of being “stuck” in one happy and special moment—a picnic, sexy date or star gazing episode—and it’s all captured by phone!

Ironically though, we have been doing this for ages without even realizing it. So many of us are trying, vying and buying into whatever surface tricks of the trade exist in order to “stand still” in the same position we’re currently in—or perhaps one we liked a little better in our past, when we were younger.

There is a fear of getting older amongst us. There is a mood of denial regarding such things. And there’s perverse comfort in “holding” or “staying put” and not ever having to risk success, failure, the natural aging process or any spiritual growth.

That’s right! The moisturizer says Anti-Aging—which obviously means that aging is something we shouldn’t do.

The diet plans out there boast of “appetite suppressants,” because to hunger and thirst for life, its nutrients, nourishments and new experiences in tandem, is apparently taboo.

The garment industry has been in on our little refusal to change shape as well, and they do “fix the numbers” to appease those who abstain from buying a larger size if newly needing it.

Let’s face it, if one is hell-bent on proclaiming they still wear the same size jeans they did in high school, then savvy fashion designers will follow that thread as to rake in some coin.

And it’s all interwoven with the demand that we’re putting so hostilely on ourselves, and all too often, in the name of preventing or procrastinating any mission of change on our part.

To nip-tuck, inject fillers, or take sexual performance enhancement pills as to feel like a young buck in bed haunts both women and men who want the clock to stop in one pretty place.

Botox is now mighty fashionable amid a millennial sect (though it was once considered a “middle-aged” and weathered housewife type fix), and the popular smorgasbord of ways to slay any progression and evolution along our course of living does generously abound.

Eerie and unnatural aside, this youthful quest is vastly coveted as the path and plan for so many of us. And when we look at how another individual is mastering the “mannequin-esque” method, we often sign ourselves up for that challenge too.

We have optimistic hope after all, and that fuels us to make some pretty costly investments in the name of “holding onto” some precious pose.

That our external surroundings and reminders don’t particularly help us feel secure in whatever age, size or success rate we measure up to (by popular standards anyway) doesn’t help foster our courage or dance forward. But it can!

In fact, rather than “changing” ourselves in order to uphold something we no longer embody, we could instead have one lavish and quite electrifying love affair with the act of “change.”

It’s doable. And it only takes a shift in perspective or an upbeat desire and to live out what’s new.

I grew up in a tiny town where I did not fit in. From bullying to boredom, happiness for me always meant venturing someplace else. That I already looked older, while trapped inside a younger person’s veneer, meant that I’d be served wine in restaurants, even as a mere teen, when accompanying adults—and my palate and passions for chatting politics or adult themes propelled me toward an older set of people. Always.

This situation dictated too, that I would foster certain interests that didn’t exactly “blend” easily with the hobbies of my contemporaries. (When my peers were planning for their prom, I was prepping for travel to Atlanta from Vermont, where I would serve as the youngest female delegate in our nation at the Democratic National Convention. I was then just 18 and officially able to vote, and I had campaigned hard.)

And while my apparent differences from my peers when growing up, via my interests and unique steps forward, did nothing in any way to help me fit in more popularly with my class, my authentic nuances and interests did force me, ready or not, to fall in love with change.

That we, as such galvanizing and gifted creatures, can continue to reinvent ourselves internally—to jump up into entirely new endeavors, even if they don’t seem “normal” for our age group, socioeconomic bracket or education level even—is undeniably exciting to me!

Whereas to stand still and try to maintain whatever I looked like two years ago (or 10, or 20) is depressing stuff. No, to become a mannequin just wouldn’t make me happy.

For damages occur—and irreconcilably so—when we grasp, with fear and shame, to the image or story of something passed. Right then, we stop our learning curve, which in turn slows or slashes our ability to teach and share much with others too. And we simultaneously begin to rely solely on the superficial components that we are devoting all energy toward upholding.

The result? We don’t tap our other skills and God-given gifts.

Suddenly we aren’t functioning as a whole, nor are we valuing and cherishing such multidimensional vast parts of our sacred being. Instead, we stand still in one cosmetic way, but this contagiously sends a message to ourselves that we are not good enough—not as we age and change and move about—and so, the self-loathing, body hate and a plethora of diabolical pain begins to splash about and throughout our outlook of ourselves.

To say that by trying to “freeze” one aspect of ourselves (when we really can’t), that we instead create a fierce and ferocious barricade that prevents our entire quite beautiful life force from fully doing its thing is an epic understatement.

Yet, all the while, we could instead be celebrating our movement through this lifetime with such majestic gratitude and zeal on every day.

And so, the next time we see those under-eye bags in a selfie, or in some video performance we did—may we smile, and become quite proud of ourselves for “showing up,” and for tapping skills and magnificent beauty from within! (Despite how tired we were, and regardless of all the sordid circumstances we endured and surfed that month or week which led up to that very fatigued looking moment.)

When we catch a glimpse of our smile lines, age spots or gray hairs, may we muse and downright marvel at our strength, and in turn remember—right then in retrospect—just how far we’ve traveled and how much we’ve obviously had within us that’s safely kept us moving forward! Yes, our vast expressionism is proof that we have lived!

That’s not to say that if we wish to put some bronzing powder over our sun spots, or cover those strands of silver that don our heads, that such isn’t healthy. To spruce up and accentuate our best and most authentic look is going to make us feel better about ourselves—and as a result, we’ll deliver our best to the world, and I believe that is why we’re all indeed here.

If some choose the more extreme measures to feel their best, of course that’s their prerogative as well and falls under personal preference. We cannot judge nor decide for anybody else as to what is right or wrong, nor is it our place.

But if our choices to cling to an image or size from yesteryear stem from a disdain for the process of growing older—which is a gift of course, since many aren’t given the privilege—then that which is indeed driving us to “assume the mannequin” position will most definitely contribute to us closing our minds toward new chapters, self acceptance and authentic love, and healthy stages of adulthood.

We needn’t stop the damn clock and entirely excoriate our illustrious essence and etchings of age when merely wanting to groom up a bit in the name of putting our most glowing and glamorous selves first.

For it is by embracing change gratefully, and without frustration and self pity, that we creatively and so colorfully do discover our most vibrant selves—and we more astutely can then determine just what healthful “updates” bring out our best, versus those which merely smack of a saddening life stage and of denial.

For if time stands still, just like a mannequin’s world, it is because we’re dead or we’re not growing.

All things considered, I’ll take that “aging” option on any day!



Author: Laurie-Beth Robbins

Image: YouTube screenshot 

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

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Laurie-Beth Robbins