A look to our sidebar and you’ll see a new photograph. Regular readers may notice the style is quite different from the previous image and arguably distinct from what I generally advocate on the blog. Or is it?
Until this weekend, I hadn’t realized I’d been feeling pressure to hide…or at least remain somewhat obscure. I had reservations wondering whether a woman can really be taken seriously as a writer for her ideas, if on some level she is first perceived as female. Evolutionary psychologists describe subconscious cues and I’ve encountered more than a few folks from the fishing industry to the Senate with overtly preconceived expectations on gender. So as Chris well knows, since the beginning I’ve been concerned readers would notice appearances before content. It wasn’t until this weekend that I finally recognized I’ve been undermining myself by unintentionally creating self-imposed constraints based on fear. And in that context, how absurd really!
You see, all of us are constantly in flux between worlds and roles. As for me, I’m a woman, a scientist, an artist, a sister, a musician… whatever fits for any given moment. The problem is I’ve allowed the attention to what others may say or think influence my choices as a writer and beyond. Thus, I’m behaving completely counter to my values. On this blog – and in life – I advocate that we have to define ourselves – for ourselves. In that regard, women must ignore and reject the objectification that has long been projected on us. By casting doubt to the wind, we may embrace the opportunity to uniquely portray who we are.
So on Saturday, I was at my folks’ place for the holiday weekend. Mom sorted through the Thanksgiving photos and stopped at the one now pictured left. ‘How bout that for your blog?’ Dad agreed.
‘Are you kidding?!‘ My initial reaction was very negative and I reminded her I’d stopped posting personal pictures altogether. But wait a second…. Why?
Perhaps what’s most problematic here is that I’ve felt the need to censor myself because of the potential for external bias. But the thing is, those outside pressures are going to exist no matter what and the only opinion of real consequence should be my own. That’s being true to oneself. That is freedom.
More on perceptions of XX after the jump – and an appearance by Diana Ross…
Since then I’ve been pondering the root cause for the natural trepidation of personal exposure and learned I’ve not really been hiding from anyone besides myself. More interesting to consider is that the photo is a microcosm of a broader cultural issue, and also a good place to begin…
Which brings me to a second reason I now want that image posted… Chris and I have more than a few bright, young female readers, and I really love receiving their occasional emails about science, math and yes, even boys. Yet somehow, even in the 21st century there’s still this ridiculous misconception that gets popularized in middle school suggesting girls in academics are weird, unattractive, or nerdy. ‘Beauty and the Geek‘ anyone? I can’t fathom why the negative labels persist. Frankly, I’m having a blast growing up geek exploring the ivory towers and beyond. So what we collectively ought to be doing is finding the means to reinforce reality over ‘reality‘ television! It’s past the time we get the simple honest message out in a way that resonates that women can be successful, intelligent, hip, and most importantly–it’s our choice how we define ourselves. I suspect that society and culture will catch up…eventually.
So there you have it. I took my parents’ suggestion in the end. They’ve always had a habit of offering sound advice. And there I am on the left smiling in their kitchen. But it’s also a reminder of what I learned over the holiday…
All of us – the fellas included – should never have to hide or apologize for who and what we are in order to fit a single construed world view. Cause you know what? By 2007, the time has come to individually redefine what that means.