Felt Truth vs Real Truth: Female Bodies
Updated: Aug 31, 2021
The difference between being true to the selves we've been conditioned to be and being true to the selves we are meant to be is the difference between life and death--and no, not literally death... a more philosophical death. The death of our truth.
Truth is a tricky thing, it's easy to impersonate, easy to fake. Real Truth is harder to find, but easy to recognize once it's naked in front of us. The question we must ask ourselves everyday is, Am I ready to accept Real Truth, or am I committed to believing in its impersonator friend?
This impersonator friend is much easier to digest, as its deeply understanding and supportive of our patterns of destruction. It feels better to believe in truth's impersonator friend than it does to accept Real Truth because Real Truth requires perspective. And perspective means getting off of our mental asses to take stock of a situation from a different point of view. And, that's a lot of effort. Accepting Real Truth is hard enough, but then when you consider the changes you'd have to implement to abide by Real Truths, you're talking serious effort. I'm already exhausted. Easier to online shop and watch dance videos on Instagram.
I've been considering the varying aspects of truth in myself, in those I love, and in the massively messy world around me. Live your truth, we encourage. Truth be told, we admit. Trueeee, we agree. We use the word freely, without abandon or consideration. Maybe it's time to change that.
What someone believes to be true is not necessarily Real Truth. How do we know this? Two people interacting with one another will describe entirely different perspectives of the encounter. So we need to understand how we view our own opinions, are they absolute truths? Or are they Felt Truths?
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but does that make their opinion true, or does it make it their opinion? Can entire relationships not be founded on delusion and fantasy? If the delusion feels real to the party involved, might we consider it their Felt Truth, but not Real Truth?
Perhaps putting "felt" before truth can help clarify our perspectives as things we feel, and not things that are absolute. Oftentimes our own perspectives are stripped of their own integrity in order to appease the flawed consumer-culture we live in. Our own perspective might be tainted by the views and beliefs of the industry around us, convincing us to feel a certain way about ourselves. So, let's take a step back and take stock of what feels true versus what is actually true.
I am a feminist. I am a feminist who believes in equal rights for all. I am also a feminist who has been struggling to distinguish "Felt Truth" from "Real Truth" in the world around me. I am told that I have rights, opportunities, freedom to be who I want to be... but what if I've been manipulated by the messaging around me, and who I want to be is more of a Felt Truth than a Real Truth?
Much of the current messaging to 21st century feminists revolves around body love and acceptance. I've grabbed onto that messaging like a life raft and held on tight. But then, why do I feel like I'm still drowning in the water?
I've been told a lot of things by this country and those who run it. Mostly, I've been told to be a thing over being a person. I've been told that my value comes from the tangible bits of my being, and not the intangible depth of my mind. I've been told that the level of my desirability directly coincides with my worth. I've been told that my best self as a woman must always be rooted in the physical. What do I look like? How do I feel about how I look? How do I use what I look like to exist and be seen? I get it. Being a woman means being a body and being a body means I have to re-fall in love with whatever that body looks like, every time it changes. Which is a lot. Because I'm a human fucking being and we hardly ever look the same. Welcome to time.
Whenever I see a video or read a book about being happy in the body I came in, I want to throw the book/laptop/phone across the room. This does not feel like Real Truth to me. This feels like another way to focus all of our efforts, as females, on the tangible. And you know the Real Truth? We are capable of so much more than loving our appearance. The faster we can get our eyes off of mirrors and put our minds to work on solving some of the fundamental issues of our culture and country, the faster we can appreciate ourselves. You know what feels better than loving your body? Being of service. Learning. Helping. Growing.
A few questions for you... How many minutes a day are men spending getting comfortable in their skin and presenting their physical bodies with pride? (I know, I know, six packs on the beach--but I'm talking majority). How many men are using their finite emotional energy to learn to love what they look like? How many men are using their intelligence to teach other men in what ways we can embrace the physical? Not many. You know what men are doing? They're thinking, creating, and profiting, both emotionally and mentally, off of a world that allows them to function from their intangible bits.
A friend of mine was in a comedy competition. She told me they had 30 minutes between sets to prep their jokes for the next round. Her male competitor spent 5 minutes in hair and makeup, and used the remaining 25 to prep. She was in hair and makeup for about 25 minutes with 5 minutes to prep. How do we expect to get ahead if we don't have the same hours of the day that men do to further their work? How can we expect to win a comedy competition if our competitor gets to work 5 times longer on his material than we do because we are too busy getting our eyelashes curled? What do curled eyelashes have to do with comedy? Enough is enough.
Time is finite because we all die, making the individual minutes of our lives very valuable. I took some time to consider the way women are encouraged to spend a 12 hour day versus men. How many hours of those 12 are spent on how we look? How many hours of those 12 are spent thinking about how we look? How many hours of those 12 are spent wondering what other people think about how we look? And then, the Real Truth question... is there a better way to spend the hours of a day than obsessing over our appearance?
I understand that we were given very specific messaging about what's beautiful and what's not and this is the time for us to shift that narrative. But, why is nobody questioning the narrative to begin with? Why the fuck do we have to be beautiful? Curled eyelashes won't help us win a comedy competition.
The world is pretty fucked up and there's a lot going on out there that needs our attention. How much is loving our bodies going to help us problem solve as a community? How much is thinking and talking and obsessing about our appearance going to help us save our dying planet? Woman to woman, what are we saying to young girls when they are finding more tutorials about how to apply makeup than how to write a letter to a legislator? How to workout for the best summer body instead of how to eat properly to maintain health and prevent disease? How to pose for the most attractive (photoshopped, filtered) selfie instead of how to actively contribute to the fight for equality?
You might say women can do it all. They can look beautiful and save the world. Well... let's be clear. Women can do it all, but at the cost of time. We cannot get back the time we've spent on our appearance. Every hour we give to adjusting ourselves or displaying ourselves is an hour we lose to the exploration and discovery of the world around us. Every hour we spend talking about our bodies and how we feel about them is an hour we could have spent doing something else, anything else.
You could say that women need to love how they look because it will boost their confidence and make them feel good. Sounds like Felt Truth to me. If women only feel good when they receive the approval of those who are looking at them, that doesn't feel like a very deep and empowering good feeling. It sounds pretty conditional. Wear mascara--feel confident. Wear tight pants--feel confident. Dye your hair--feel confident. Feeling confident also sounds really expensive. Hope you have a Sephora nearby, or confidence will be out the window!
**Spoiler alert: our eyes are on our heads, which makes it impossible to see ourselves as a whole body**
If we are basing our confidence over the way other people interact with our appearance, is that really confidence? Real Truth: that is validation based on the external. True confidence shouldn't rely on time and $$ spent on products and exercises that appeal to our appearance. True confidence should come from what's within. Your inner-child likely doesn't give a fuck about how plump your lips are or if you have a thigh gap. Your inner-child just wants to get on a playground, meet some kids, and play fucking tag.
What if our confidence wasn't based on what we looked like and how we felt about what we looked like? Real Truth: our confidence could be based on the intangible parts of ourselves: what we think, say, and do. What it feels like to get on the playground--nose running, face dirty--and play tag with some other kids.
This is my Real Truth ask:
Can we stop talking about bodies? Like for maybe 50 years? I don't want to hear about a woman's body for 50 fucking years. A body is a body, it's flesh and blood and bones. We are all born in different ones, welcome to the human race. All these bodies change all the time. Fake truth feels like telling women to value, above all, the love they have for their bodies. Who cares? Seriously... who cares?
For the next 50 years, or 500, I'd like to hear about women what are saying and doing. I want to hear about the intangible parts of the women around me, their brilliant creativity, curious minds, and capacity to love. I want to hear about all the gorgeous ways women are existing and connecting. I don't care about how much they love their body. I really don't. How can we as women value that which is not physical about us? That which is not seen? We are finally fighting misogyny head on, let us not objectify one another in place of men.
Real Truth: your body is a coat you wear while you are alive. It's the boat that carries your beautiful mind from one shore to another. We should have so much gratitude for our bodies' abilities every day. The flesh and bones are what walk us through the world, allowing us to witness one another. But, we do not need to put a value on a body. Not a skinny one, not a fat one, not one filled with acne, not one with perfect skin, not a young one, not an old one.
Let us shift our value system as women away from the fake truths of our consumer-culture and all its tangible bullshit, and towards all the parts of us that nobody can see: our determination, our resilience, our compassion, our ideas, our love.
And maybe, after 500 years of nobody talking about women's bodies, we won't need to watch tutorials on how to make ourselves look like Snapchat filters, read self-help books about loving ourselves as we are, and attend seminars about unleashing our inner goddess through the physicalization of our desirability. Maybe, we will be so busy falling in love with our minds, hearts, and souls--and the minds, hearts, and souls of the women around us--we won't have time to worry about loving our bodies.