yesterday at the fireside chat at sacred space, we had anne baird as a guest. anne is the creator of goddess cards, a series of internationally sold, beautiful greeting cards that celebrate the beauty in every woman.
the idea of our fireside chats is to share ideas and inspire discussion. one of the topics that came up was that there might be a trend currently to overglamourize the idea of the goddess.
the term “goddess” often evokes an image of a strong, beautiful, magical, benevolent woman. one of our guests asked, what about plain women, what about “old hags”, what about the not-so-peaceful aspects of many goddesses?
this is a worthwhile topic to think about, and opens a whole pandora’s box. what’s beautiful? what’s plain? is this picture of two women by acclaimed photographer naomi harris a portrait of beauty, of plainness, of … ?
part of the problem is the human need to slot everything into categories. this need crops up more in some situations than in others. it certainly seems to rear its (ugly? lovely? plain?) head quite willingly whenever we talk about women’s appearance.
but is it really necessary? what does anyone gain by looking at a woman and immediately assessing whether she fits into categories such as pretty, thin, old, wrinkled, well-dressed, etc.?
thinking in categories is useful in stressful or survival situations: “is this a sabre-toothed tiger i see? i can’t tell from here but it kind of has that shape, i better run!”
this type of quick categorization is what saved our ancestors over and over again. but many adults who live in the western world don’t encounter too many survival situations, so we don’t need to quickly categorize like that anymore. i guess our brains haven’t quite gotten that message yet!
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