IG post: Showing skin

I’m experimenting with something for the next week or so. I notice that I haven’t been posting to my blog as often as I should, but  I post what amounts to mini blog posts on Instagram regularly. I can’t seem to find a way to automate the transfer of those posts into WordPress, but for now I’d like to try simultaneously posting the more thoughtful posts here.

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Original IG post text:

Side Plank #independencearmy – sorry for the amount of skin in this pic, didn’t have clients for my 6am so I did some flow of my own at home & these were the clothes I had on, couldn’t grab more without waking the rest of the family. Great way to start the day!

Adding:

First, let me say that I got nothing but positive encouragement from my followers on Instagram. Which is why I love IG, it’s such a positive place. Some of these friends I only know from Instagram! It’s like Twitter used to be.*sadface* My followers on IG are a) largely fitness buffs like myself, primarily interested in the poses and photography rather than oogling, and b) female. I have very few male followers and only allow those whom I trust to be professional.

But let me back up and provide context, in case you have been living in a hole each Spring when the blog posts about modesty re-circulate. The most popular post this year was this post from a woman asking other women to help her protect her marriage by not posting pictures of themselves baring skin.

I saw a lot of criticism of that post regarding the writer’s marriage, and I am going to completely disregard that as none of our business. I understand her intent, and as a highly conscientious person I seriously consider her legitimate feelings.

Once we know that someone is offended or bothered by something, we are responsible for what we do with that knowledge. To act upon our knowledge or ignore it is a choice.

Here is an example of what I mean.

At the beginning of this swimming season, I owned one swimsuit. A two-piece with full coverage of top and bottom that I wore before kids and through 2 pregnancies. I was planning on wearing it for another year when I participated in a discussion with very close friends about their comfort levels wearing bikinis at our neighborhood pool, some in regards to appropriate modesty front of the husbands. Because this is our first year to join the neighborhood pool and be around my friends’ husbands at a pool, I was not sure what to do. I had just purchased a second swimsuit so that I would be able to cycle between the two if one was in the wash. They were both two pieces! Both full coverage of chest and rear end, but definitely two pieces. Were they modest enough?

I choose to care about my friends’ comfort levels, so once they have shared their concerns, I am responsible for my choices in light of this knowledge.

What I am not responsible for is interpreting the reactions of those who have not shared their concerns with me.

Another example: My favorite tongue-in-cheek response to the modesty post this year was  this one: When Suits Become a Stumbling Block. The intent of that parody was to point out that it is nearly impossible for the person wearing the clothing to pinpoint whether certain clothing or behaviors would make someone else “think inappropriate thoughts”. And how ridiculous it would be to ask everyone else to stop doing anything that makes them attractive in any way.

While I am happy to honor the concerns of my friends who tell me what makes them uncomfortable, I am not responsible for determining all the nuances of every individual’s comfort level, as the satirical post illustrates.

So this is what I did: I went out and bought swim shorts for one suit and a tankini top for the other. It was the cheapest thing to do, and I hope it increased the modesty of them both. I did this because I love and respect my friends who were not OK with their husbands seeing women in a standard bikini. I still wear the non-tankini and non-shorts pieces in my backyard with the kids and my husband.

In light of such responsibility, which has it’s limitations within the knowledge we possess, one more thing I want to address about that modesty post (and comments that I occasionally get from other women/clients): it’s not ok to say that you would dress more scantily if only you looked a certain way.

I want to paste some excerpts of the comments I got on my IG post:

Don’t apologize! If I had your body I would walk around in my swimsuit. Everywhere.

Gorgeous bod!! If I looked like that, I would wear that little all of the time!!

I’d grocery shop in that if I looked like you!

If you re-read the modesty post, you will also find this line in her post:

If I was skinny with rock-hard abs and legs from here to Mexico, I’d want to take lots of pictures of myself. Mostly naked. I would want to post them with a nice filter on Instagram, and share them with whoever might see.

Here’s the catch, lady: you just told everyone else they shouldn’t. Which means you don’t get to, either

You couldn’t because of people like you, posting blog posts telling people who look a certain way that they aren’t allowed to wear certain things. Putting conscientious people like me, who genuinely respect your feelings and want to do the right thing, in a very odd place when it comes to clothing.

Which begs the question: are you asking other women to cover up out of genuine concern for modesty, or out of your own body image insecurity? I’m completely respectful of other women’s legitimate requests for modesty. I can and will dress according to specific requests, if needed. But I am not responsible for protecting you from your view of yourself, which is an impossible target for me to hit. I can’t see inside your brain.

My sweet Instagram followers are not judgemental or even critical. What makes me sad is that, at the core, the phrase, “If I looked like that…” expresses dissatisfaction with the speakers’ body. I get this from my clients a lot and I want you all to know that your bodies are strong and capable. We also know that the images we see in the media are not real. I want you to stop comparing yourselves and enjoy your physical bodies!

The reality is, there are some people like the modesty post blogger who are judging someone who is fit even more harshly than they would judge someone who is less fit. The same woman who applauded this awesome lady for wearing a two piece swimsuit might write that blog post asking that we not post pictures of ourselves at the pool because we’re not overweight.

As a conscientious fit person, I’m always open to constructive feedback. And I’m sure that I have body issues of my own. But please do not confuse insecurity with impropriety. Most of all, let’s examine our motives and stop the comparisons.

Contentment vs Lack of Ambition

We’re reading Sheryl Sandberg’s inspiring book Lean In for book club this month. I know, I’m late to the party since I’ve actually already heard her speak at BlogHer 2013 in July. But I wanted to wait to read the whole book until I had the opportunity to discuss it with some really smart and thoughtful ladies in my neighborhood while drinking wine. I have found this book to be extremely balanced, and not at all about how we all need to be CEO’s or how women need to kick men’s butts in the workplace.

I particularly loved how she highlights that not all of us who are not CEO’s or even full time employees at the moment have made that choice due to lack of ambition. Sometimes it is because the way we are living our life right now is just right for us at this moment. This is a yoga principle as well — being content with where you are right now and accepting both your limitations and your current accomplishments.

"Many people are not interested in acquiring power, not because they lack ambition, but because they are living their lives as they desire." - Sheryl Sandberg

#NaBloPoMo 2013 – I said I wouldn’t do it

It’s come around again: National Blog Posting Month, or NaBloPoMo.
NaBloPoMo November 2013
I did it last year and I swore I’d never do it again. Mostly because there are some days, I’m not gonna lie, I wrote absolute crap. Like, seriously — what the heck is up with this post? *sigh*

And then, as frequently happens, Twitter pressured me into doing it. Or maybe it was Facebook. Whatever, it was all those other amazing bloggers who are committing to do this too. Mainly @Melisalw, @lifewithroozle, @Tabulous, @uppoppedafox, and @mrlady. You know, people I know mostly on or from Twitter. Because that’s completely normal, right? To have friends that live in your smartphone that make you do things?

Anyway, here we go again. Please bear with me for a new and improved frequency of posting with only slightly decreased value.

6 Word Memoir #breathedeep

6 stones in balance representing my 6 word memoir - what is yours? | ConscientiousConfusion.com

This year at BlogHer I had the privilege of attending a session called “What Type of Social Media Leader Are You?“. One of the panelists was Ananda Leeke, a yoga teacher and creativity coach. She encouraged all of us to put together a 6 word memoir to learn more about ourselves. I love this exercise for anyone, at any time, regardless of whether you blog or use social media. I wrote mine right there in the session and shared it on Twitter. Then I realized that I’d love to share this concept with all of my readers, because it is a great exercise in being conscious of our past, our present, and helps us move forward in our future.

Here is my 6 word memoir:

authentic

enthusiastic

intentional

conscientious

realistic

dependent

These words describe things that I have been in the past, things that I am now, and things that I aspire to be.

Some of them aren’t always good if they get out of balance. When I become too dependent on a person, for example, that can lead me to codependence, which is not healthy. But at the same time, the idea that every living thing in our world is dependent upon every other living thing is very important to me and guides a lot of my decision-making. That word leads me to being more conscientious and intentional in a very positive way, as long as I keep it within a healthy balance. Authenticity and ongoing enthusiasm are things that I hope and strive to be. Realistic is the positive way of saying I like to seek out and solve problems before they happen. When it’s out of balance, it can lead to paranoid and feeling overwhelmed. It’s all about the balance.

I’d love to hear your 6 word memoir. If you are participating in the deep breathing challenge from Lindsay Dahl along with myself, Lori from Groovy Green Livin, Leigh from Green4U, Jen from Jen and Joey Go Green, and others on Twitter and Facebook, this is a great exercise to meditate on or think about when you are taking your moments of intentional quiet. The hashtag is #breathedeep to share these and other reflections you have during intentional deep breathing.

Jesus is a Feminist: you don’t have to Lean In, but don’t bow out

Jesus is a Feminist | ConscientiousConfusion.com

Although I haven’t read her book yet (it’s on our book club list and I’m waiting for the rest of the group!), I enjoyed hearing Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook and author of Lean In, speak at BlogHer this year in Chicago. While she was speaking, I was watching the chatter on Twitter and I noticed a disturbing response from the “Christian” bloggers that I follow. It actually disturbed me so much that I feel like I need to respond with this post. I saw several women who either skipped the keynote altogether because “I’m not a feminist” or attended but were tweeting things that implied that this ridiculous talk about feminism did not apply to them. What bothered me the most about this viewpoint is that it is completely wrong for someone who says they follow the Jesus described in the Bible. You don’t have to “lean in” if you don’t want to, but if you say you follow Jesus, I have news for you: Jesus is a feminist.

First, let’s be clear on what a feminist is. Here’s the definition from Merriam-Webster:

fem·i·nism: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes

If you believe that men and women are equal, you are a feminist.

Let me put it another way.

Have you attended a school, college, trade school, or certificate program? Do you teach others in any capacity: have you trained a coworker at school, taught a workshop, led a Sunday school class or Young Life meeting? Ever spoken in front of an audience that included men? Do you own a car, a house, do you have a birth certificate, a driver’s license, a passport, a library card, a credit card? When the U.S. census comes around, do you count yourself as an individual human being, or do you skip yourself and only count the males in your household? In your day to day life, do you speak to males in public and expect them to speak back to you? The postman, the clerk at the store, your neighbor, the dads in your children’s class at school, your childrens’ teachers and principals?

If you said “yes” to any of these things, you are behaving as a feminist, and are relying on feminist tenets in your everyday life. You have an expectation that you will be (and you have been) allowed the same freedoms that a man has, in these particular areas.

You also have much more freedom than a woman would have had in Palestine during the time that Jesus was on the earth. It was a rough time to be a Jewish woman. Although Jewish Greek and Roman women had some degree of power and freedom [3], in reaction and opposition to these foreign societies, strict rabbinical law in Palestine during the time of Jesus took the opposite viewpoint and forbade all such liberty for women[4]. When Jesus came onto the scene, He* challenged all of those norms.

An observant Jewish woman in Palestine during this time would have been barred by strict rabbinical law to be taught to read or to study the Torah. In the stricter households, she might even have been confined to her home. When she was allowed out of the house, it would be to worship in the synagogue, but even then she was separated from men. Men were educated in literacy and in religion, but women were not. If you were a very religious Jewish man of the time, you would not speak directly to a woman in public. Not even your own wife, daughter, or mother [1]. She was both too inferior and too lavicious, merely by merit of her existence [4]. That pretty much leaves out owning any kind of business or working full time. Maybe you don’t want to own a business, but what about being legally recognized as a person? Nope. In the Old Testament, women were not counted when there was a census. During the time of Christ, the testimony of a woman was not acceptable evidence in court [1]. Josephus documents that women were actually deemed inferior by law [2].

In contrast, every reference in the Bible to the larger group of followers of Jesus (outside the immediate disciple group) specified that both men AND women followed Him.

The fact that the overwhelmingly negative attitude toward women in Palestine did not come through the primitive Christian communal lens by itself underscores the clearly great religious importance Jesus attached to his positive attitude–his feminist attitude–toward women: feminism, that is, personalism extended to women, is a constitutive part of the Gospel, the Good News, of Jesus.”

Jesus Was A Feminist, thesis by Leonard Swidler, 1971

It’s interesting to note that Jesus frequently taught outdoors and in public places, rather than in the synagogue, which would have been the norm for a Jew trying to drum up a new movement. Why wouldn’t He be in the religious forum of the culture — a synagogue? Because if He were to teach in a synagogue, women would not be able to hear Him. Outdoors, anyone could attend, and did [4].

Jesus not only spoke to women, but He had a theological conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). He listened to her points and gave her thoughtful answers. Again, something that a religious leader of the time would never have done, in public or even, most likely, in private.

Multiple times when Jesus healed a woman, He touched her, which was scandalous (Mark 1:29-31, Matthew 8:14-15). He directly addressed the “female issue” of a woman with uterine bleeding by healing her without fear or shaming. He not only healed her but commended her faith in coming to Him with the problem (Mark 5:25-34, Luke 8:43-48). Possibly most scandalous was His reaction to The Woman Caught In Adultery, who is only known in the bible in relation to her sin, not by her actual name — a commentary on how the writers of the gospel themselves felt about women. The religious leaders of the time used the woman only as an object to catch Jesus in political and religious trap, but Jesus saw her as a person just like any other person, and treated her as such (John 8:3-11). He stood up for a woman’s equality (feminism) by reminding the male religious leaders that sin is not inherently male or female, and neither is forgiveness and grace.

A key component of the gospel of Jesus was that He not only took on the sins of the world and died, but was resurrected, conquering the human fate of death and ascending victorious. Obviously, it is of crucial importance to His message that there is valid proof of His life after the crucifixion. So to whom did He choose to show Himself first after leaving His tomb? Three women (Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-11, Luke 24:1-11, John 20:11-18). Women whose testimony the modern society would not have recognized in court. If He wanted to make a big splash immediately, what He should have done is shown himself to a four Jewish men, the amount needed to legally corroborate any story. But instead, He cared enough about the women who stood by Him in His final hours to go them first, to comfort them in their grieving. I just love that gesture, because it proves that He cared about their feelings above any need to prove Himself (He has plenty of time to show Himself to groups of men later). Every action He took through His ministry recorded in the Bible proved to be a conscious choice to be inclusive and foster equality in gender as well as societal position and ethnicity.

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I could go on and on with examples. If you are a reader, I encourage you to read the sources referenced at the bottom of this post — the fourth one, in particular, goes through the four gospels one at a time, citing every example of women and how Jesus treated and reacted to them.

Let me get back to my point. My hope is that women (bloggers or not) who call themselves followers of a faith originated by Jesus will stop bowing out of the feminism discussions by giving their faith as an excuse. Most likely, you are a feminist aside from your faith, even though you weren’t aware. But if you say that you follow Jesus, your faith should reinforce your feminism. I have not addressed the issues brought up later in the New Testament by Paul regarding the leadership of women in the church, but I think that Carolyn does an excellent job of analyzing the dangers of women letting submission be the guise under which we allow harassment in the church. Let’s be more aware of how we are treating women and men as a result of Jesus’ example. Let’s read the books and blog posts about feminism and join in the discussion. Let’s let this radical idea of equality permeate the way we treat our friends, how we judge (or choose not to judge) other women, how we make our political decisions, how we spend our money, and how we choose to consume media and entertainment. Everything we are doing impacts other women, and let’s all start being a little more conscientious. Dare I say… just like Jesus.

 

Sources:

1. Jesus Was A Feminist, thesis by Leonard Swidler, Professor of Catholic Thought & Interreligious Dialogue, Religion Department, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. Article first appeared in Catholic World, January 1971.

2. Josephus, Contra Apion II, 201. Trans. by H. St. J. Thackeray, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1966), p. 373

3. “Rufina and Her Sisters: Jewish women in the Diaspora”, by Ross S. Kraemer. Reprinted on My Jewish Learning from Jewish Women in Historical Perspective, edited by Judith Baskin, 1991, with permission of the Wayne State University Press. c. 1991 by Wayne State University Press.

4. Women and Ministry in the New Testament, by Elisabeth M. Tetlow, Paulist Press, 1980. reprinted on WomenPriests.org

 

* I am capitalizing this pronoun out of respect, because this is my blog and I can.