Victoria Secret

#Imnoangel is #missingthepoint

  Hugely trending #Imnoangel campaign by Lane Bryant right now, with the headline, "Lane Bryant Bashes Victoria Secret with "I'm No Angel" Campaign". The company sells plus-sized lingerie.   Photo from Cosmopolitan.com

Hugely trending #Imnoangel campaign by Lane Bryant right now, with the headline, "Lane Bryant Bashes Victoria Secret with "I'm No Angel" Campaign". The company sells plus-sized lingerie.  Photo from Cosmopolitan.com

I saw this post from Adweek in Facebook this morning, which totally got me all twisted up.  "Lane Bryant Bashes Victoria Secret with 'I'm No Angel' Campaign".  I love Victoria Secret angels- I do their workouts so I know how hard those girls work.  I also know how well they take care of their bodies by what they eat, what they put on their skin, how well-informed they are about nutrition.

So I wondered, when I saw this, if someone was trying to pass a moral judgement on people who want beautifully toned bodies, who go to the gym and eat well in order to get them.  But then I realized, no, Lane Bryant is trying to sell underwear. 

These girls have great aesthetics going on, so whatever, but oh my god, are we missing the point here.  This is 2015 and the body-image conversation is still for the most part in the dark ages.

Craving a VC Angel body isn't healthy, but neither is cynicism towards one, a form of aversion.  In Buddhism, the two greatest causes of human suffering are craving and aversion, so let's move past the useless "love your body" rhetoric to something more useful.  Does anyone know what "loving your body" means anyway?  Are you supposed to have warm feelings toward it?  Conjure up affection for it?  Pet it?  Give it treats when it's good? 

Pop body image rhetoric gets one thing right- that being at home in our bodies is true freedom- Maya Angelou said, "I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself."  Gurdjieff told his students repeatedly to "Stay with yourself, stay with yourself."  Absent-minded or emotional eating, or lazy meal prep is a manifestation of having left oneself- having dissappeared into the worries, fantasies, memories, and other thinking, emotional, and instinctual patterns ever arising from the ego structure.  When you're tuned into your body's needs- honoring it by listening when it's full and feeding it nutrutious balanced meals when it's hungry, you're "really seeing it", and in mindfulness, to see yourself with the inner eye and stay with the discomfort that arises when something difficult comes up is to love.  See, stay, notice.  Love and sexiness is what is revealed when our defenses have been "noticed away."

  Is this what your inner critic looks like?  Quick, take a couple seconds to just notice the physiological effect of their hassling. Noticing that tension in your body when you cringe about a part of you you don't like is the secret to the life-long journey of dissolving the inner critic.   Image from lisarosman.com

Is this what your inner critic looks like?  Quick, take a couple seconds to just notice the physiological effect of their hassling. Noticing that tension in your body when you cringe about a part of you you don't like is the secret to the life-long journey of dissolving the inner critic.  Image from lisarosman.com

This is a lifelong journey, not a quick fix.  But the result is we get to come home to ourselves and radiate from within.  That's sexy. 

Flow is the Thing

  I've never seen this movie, but I hate being interrupted.  I imagine it's about this girl talking passionately about something and someone (probably a man) interrupts her and she gets violent and pushes Kiera Knightly down next to a sink in the bathroom and says, "this is what feminism is all about.  Let's write a joint paper on the patriarchy of interruption" and Kiera's like ok, I'm on it.   Image from Girl Interrupted.

I've never seen this movie, but I hate being interrupted.  I imagine it's about this girl talking passionately about something and someone (probably a man) interrupts her and she gets violent and pushes Kiera Knightly down next to a sink in the bathroom and says, "this is what feminism is all about.  Let's write a joint paper on the patriarchy of interruption" and Kiera's like ok, I'm on it.  Image from Girl Interrupted.

Flow is the thing.  All humans beings on this earth crave and have ever craved is flow.  Creative flow, brand flow, user experience flow, financial flow, physical flow, sexual flow, conversational flow.  When we're shovelling the driveway and we're walking along shovelling all this snow, and all of a sudden the shovel hits an edge in the sidewalk and the shovel jabs us in the stomach, we get mad.  We hate it when the flow stops. 

I was surprised to see this the other day- trainer to Victoria Secret models, Justin Gelband, talking about how models do certain exericses because they want their bodies to flow.  Remarkably insightful.

Damn strait.  Justin Gelband on what women want in their exercise routine, from 1:04 to 1:14

I remember Sandra Maitri going on and on about flow in her Enneagram Intro talk in LA a couple years ago, and I was like OK next topic, got it.  But since then, I've seen the search for flow in many, many incarnations. 

Babies have flow; their bodies are incredibly flexible and flowy.  They enter into every new experience completely unguarded and vulnerable without underlying preconceptions, memories, psychic structures or moral codes set up by previous influences.  They flow from one emotional expression to the next without trying to suppress, project, or impress anyone.  They cry one moment and laugh the next.

Good sex has flow- hardly worth explaining, but due to the vulnerable nature of it, it makes sense that we're going to react to our core fears here at some point or other, and reactions will stifle or stop the flow, depending on the amount of "armour" someone needs to get through the stress of let's say an unpleasant memory, picture, or emotion that arises from the unconscious during the act. 

Accomplished artists and athletes have flow- look at this woman balancing sticks and then a feather on top- she is incredibly aware of her body and breath during this performance; her simple yet mindful actions take her audience away to another place. 

Other examples: we get computer rage when the wifi isn't flowing and road rage when the traffic isn't flowing; the wealthy (and smart) know how to set up regular streams of cash flow; in tech, UX (user experience) is all about good flow through the conversions (from the first click to the purchase and confirmation page), the best homes and buildings are where the layout of the rooms and windows is in flow with the rising and setting of the sun, we feel good after a yoga session where we were in flow with our breath.  After we come back from a retreat or conference and have a mountaintop spiritual experience or get into a new network of people, we try to elevate the rest of our lives to that level of flow. 

Rivers are universal metaphors for flow, and definitely paddling and sailing helps some people get in flow, but the most under-employed resource for getting in flow is our own breath (the river within, if you will).  Look at all the books that are published every year about weight loss, stopping bad habits or making changes in your life.  They're everywhere, in the hundreds of thousands.  My guess is very slowly we'll start to see a movement towards understanding the subtle movements in the unconscious and their relationship to the breath as the calalyst for transformation.  When we're aware of that connection, we can get the bodies we want, stop abusing alcohol, or feel more comfortable in anxiety-provoking situations.  In other words, awareness of the breath and its relationship to the myriad of unconscious images, memories and emotions that pass through our thoughtstream every day helps get us unstuck and back in flow.

 

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