Wednesday, June 8, 2011

...I Started It, Now I'm Ending It...

I’m not sure when this happened, but it looks like someone “plus one’d” every single post on all three of my blogs. (I think... or does everyone start at one?)

Assuming this isn’t the set up for a horrible prank, and assuming you don’t have OCD (which wouldn’t make you any less awesome), and you weren’t in the middle of some sort of clicking tic, let me say, thank you so very kindly!

You are very, very, very much appreciated…. My friend (or friends), you rock!

It’s nice to feel encouraged.

Unfortunately, I still had to shut down one of the blogs: Naked and Beautiful bites the dust.

When I started the blog, I had developed three theories that I wanted to prove:
  1. Feeling good about yourself is independent of what you look like.
  2. What you think you look like is mostly based on flawed information.
  3. There is a pure, undisturbed heart at the core of your being; it is the real you, and it is your most beautiful part.
Too many of us feel flawed because a body part doesn’t look a certain way, or we don’t think we get enough attention, compliments, or positive feedback on our physical aspects. We have assumed the identity of our collection of parts, and we work to “improve” those parts, instead of working to grow our hearts, evolve our lives, and care for our communities. Sounds a little backwards, doesn’t it? Our identities shouldn’t be so tightly knotted to our physical appearance.

I always felt that if I could create a perfect world, none of us would have actual bodies. No sickness, or disabilities. We would all be freeform, free-floating energy. (I’m still undecided about if we’d have to have real heads or not because it would just be something else superficial to judge, but definitely no bodies.)

Alas, we do have physical bodies in a material world. So I set out to blow away the smoke and expose the mirrors on all those things deliberately set free in the atmosphere with the intention of making you think you are bad, wrong, or otherwise imperfect as you are, if only to sell you the solution to your problem.

Sadly, it didn’t quite turn out the way I planned and before I knew it, I was part of the problem. If ever a blog could derail and explode, this one really left the track in a fireball.

My first mistake was the title. In my head, the word naked meant “whatever you may be, in the purest state of that being “ and beautiful meant “your being is wonderful and graces the world.”

Well, I severely underestimated the amount of people that devote time to searching for “naked” or “beautiful” people on the web. Turns out in their heads, the words “naked and beautiful” meant, in a nutshell (haha), porn. In hindsight, it seems a little obvious, but I swear to you at the time it seemed like a good idea.

My second mistake was the promotion of the site. I’m not big on promotion. I do my thing, and hope the word gets out a little bit at a time. For this site, I tapped a few larger sites about beauty and self esteem.

I learned why it’s always recommended that the easiest, fastest way to promote your blog is just to comment on other blogs with similar audiences and leave a link. Contacting the blogger directly is a little like making eye contact with an angry dog. I can think of two blogs in particular that gave me “interesting” responses to my email, blocked my comments on their blogs and then proceeded to regularly “borrow” material from my site.

Really, gals? Is it that serious? Well have at it. You can fight each other all day long to be king of the hill, and I’ll just move over here and make my own mountain, thank you. That’s the beauty of the internet, any schmuck can get on.

My third mistake, if you could call it a mistake, is a little harder to determine. But consider my top three posts and the traffic sources:

Hottentot Syndrome. More than 1000 hits, coming in mostly from a Google image search under terms like “ghetto booty” “big fat black asssss” and “big butt black hos.” Ironically, this particular write up was about the increasing number of young black women who choose to respond to the objectification of the black female body by opting to exploit themselves (as opposed to being exploited by someone else).

What Do Normal Breasts Look Like? More than 1000 hits, too. Some of these searches may have legitimately been young girls with concerns about their appearances (“what should I look like naked” and “are my breasts normal?”) but a lot of those came in on image searches too under the terms “perfect tits” or “fukin titties,” and quite a few from “how to guess a bra size by looking.”

On top of that, I used an amazing photograph by Jo Schwab  that included a link, but no one ever went to that site from mine, they just ran straight to the link I included about a site that shows real photos of real women’s breasts. I thought the site was helpful in shredding all the edited images and falsified ideas of what the female form is “supposed” to look like. I found it extremely helpful on a personal level, but I get the feeling there were some disappointed pervs out there when they hit the link. (I still think this site is a wonderful resource for women, so you can judge for yourself  here)

What’s going on down there? Nearly 1000 hits. I have no clue how terms like “masturbation” and “c#nt” (gag!) ended up leading to this post, but they did. The idea was intended to be identical to the breast post except the focus being on labiaplasty. Labiaplasty is the technical term for a cosmetic surgery procedure done to perfect your, uh … girl …bits.

My fourth place article was Dr. Oz’s 25 Health Tips for Men with hits numbering in the low hundreds, but that’s a hell of a dive in numbers.

It was pretty disheartening to say the least. No wonder so many people have issues with their bodies, it’s under constant assault from aggression, violence, and psychological abuse. The blog was supposed to cover all parts of the body, but if my stats have anything to say about it, the body only consists of three parts: breasts, buttocks and vagina.

It was just all too much for me.

I first noticed this trend right around the time Regis Philbin copped a feel on Nicki Minaj, which might not seem like a big deal, but it didn't make me feel great. Most of the commentary I found was somewhat indifferent, and bordering along the lines of “I would have given anything to be Regis’s hand that day” which just sickens me. I’m definitely not built like Nicki Minaj, but almost any black woman will tell you some stories about some sour attention to their body that some idiot tried to disguise as a compliment. (Seriously, guys, “hello” will always work better than “Damnnn!” if the girl is really worthy. Salivation does not equal appreciation.) It would sure be nice if more people noticed that we have heads atop our bodies, too.

Ultimately, the Naked and Beautiful blog just backfired all the way around.

The more I got into trying to dispel the myths, the more I realized how much, bigger, deeper, and out of control the myths were. It was easy to find distorted images and deconstruct them, but somehow reconstructing a better picture proved to be a challenge to the point where I started to feel myself becoming affected.

I’m more accepting of myself and my looks than the average person, even though I have less than average looks. Yet, I couldn’t help constantly falling across information that suggested that it was wrong or irregular to feel good about yourself. Especially if you’re less than perfect. But since we are all less than perfect, then technically none of us are allowed to feel good about ourselves. At least not without buying this product or that beauty treatment first. And I’m not knocking cosmetics, shapewear, fake hair, or surgery. If you want to do it, and you’re able to do so logistically, that’s you—rock on. But none of those things are for me, and I refuse to feel bad about it.

But for a time, I did.

Somehow researching the roots of unhealthy self esteem and self perception was starting to give me unhealthy self esteem and self perception. Maybe it’s true: we become what we dwell on. So I made the choice not to dwell on it any longer, and dropped my informal study on “beauty” as defined by the mainstream.
My friends all still make comments about me having low self esteem because I don’t think of myself as pretty, but I stand firm on the idea that having high self esteem doesn’t mean you think you’re the hottest thing going, it just means whatever you think, the thought feels good to you.

And I think I feel good about letting the blog go.

The product and fitness reviews are still up and will stay there until I see any indication that they aren’t helpful to anyone anymore, but most of the other posts have come down including the high ranking ones. I’m thinking I might post them here at a later date, but I haven’t decided yet. I don’t want to accidentally invite the “hot-headless-body” attention that those posts seemed to attract, but I thought the content was good. We’ll see.

In the meantime, I’m still testing hair and skin products, and reviewing fitness videos and hope to get those posts up soon. I’m just sharing my findings because I’ve always found other people’s product reviews to be so helpful to me. As for breaking down the media machine that steamrolls us, there’s no shortage of resources out there for that if you’re willing to look for them.

Blog or no blog, people like us – and people not like us- have a lot to feel good about it. We’re a pretty awesome bunch because we know that we don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

Because they’re fitting…
N.E.R.D “Perfect Defect”

Christina Aguilera “Beautiful”

Because they’re stuck in my head…
Toreador Song (from Carmen Jones)

I had this crazy, hot interpretive dance for this song when I was younger. Okay, it probably wasn’t that great, but it was fun.
Timmy Thomas – Why Can’t We Live Together?

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