My Musings – Masks
Today, as I write this, it is Halloween. I’m going to confess that I do not like Halloween. I’ve tried, really I have. I just don’t get it. While I fully appreciate the creativity, imagination, and sense of play that it is no doubt intended to inspire, I cannot help but feel depressed at the sight of so many people hiding behind masks, costumes, and stereotypes. It always feels a little forced and contrived. The one exception is kids. Kids are pretty adorable on Halloween, but there are still some issues around gender stereotypes that cannot be ignored. My daughter was maybe 8 when she asked why all the girl costumes were dresses. Why couldn’t she be a pirate who wore pants? I can relate. The last time I dressed up for Halloween, my friend and I went as Roe vs. Wade. She dressed like a river guide; I wore waders and fishing gear. I was the only woman covered in flannel. I don’t want my daughter to see grown women dressed up as sexy french maids, sexy firewomen, sexy nurses, sexy superheroes every Halloween. What message is that sending? What does that tell her about where her worth comes from?
Just today, I read this quote from Senator Susan Collins of Maine:
“My campaign manager had an eight-year-old daughter…After watching me on television one night, she said, “Daddy, can boys grow up to be senators?” And it was because, her whole life, she had only seen Olympia Snowe and me as senators. And I just love that story because it shows how powerful images are in role models.”
I want my daughter to grow up with role models rather than role play. I hope that if she chooses to dress up for Halloween, she chooses a costume that makes her feel happy rather than one that makes her look sexy. Maybe she will dress up as an actual Firewoman, Doctor, or Senator. Empowered women are incredibly appealing. There’s no need to sex up that shit. Authentic women are incredibly appealing. Again, no need to sex that up. Empowerment and Authenticity come from taking off masks, not hiding behind them. I’m talking about more than Halloween here. As Brené Brown says, “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” Are you brave enough to let your true self be seen? Sexy zombies aren’t scary. Taking off the mask you hide behind every day – that’s scary. Letting our true selves be seen is an act of enormous courage. It requires us to be vulnerable. Most of us have been raised to believe that vulnerability is a sign of weakness. It is quite the opposite.
My challenge to each of us this month is to be courageous, vulnerable, and empowered by simply being real. This month, we will be introducing plenty of role models – a professional soccer player, spiritual teachers, a teenage filmmaker, and the author of a little book called “Eat, Pray, Love.” We’ll be featuring real women having real conversations about creativity, motherhood, their work, their dreams, their struggles. We hope their musings will spark some of your own. Musings generally begin with a question. What do you hold most dear? What does your true self long to share with the world? What makes you leap out of bed? What makes you belligerent? What makes you come alive? Questions spark conversation. They cultivate curiosity, compassion, and connection. Questions provide us with those magical “me too” moments that come when our truest self recognizes the truest part of someone else and says, “ahhh, I am not alone.” We aren’t alone. It just feels that way sometimes when so many of us are hiding behind the masks of perfection, busy-ness, martyrdom, etc. Let’s take off the masks. One, two, three….
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