Sometimes we can get easily suckered into living someone else’s life rather than the one we wish to live. It can be from societal and parental brainwashing as we grow up as well as from other sources. Quite often, though, the myths we live were created by ourselves.
Body image myths
This is such a powerful one for so many, including myself. Magazines, TV, movies, etc., have portrayed an unrealistic version of “the perfect body.” The weight-loss industry is a $60 billion business in the US, and its tentacles are reaching into more and more countries.
Fat shaming is one of the few non-PC activities still widely accepted. If you’re overweight, it’s obviously because you’re too damn lazy, just eat crap, and need to get your wide posterior off the couch. It’s OK for an employer to discriminate against you simply because of your girth. As a scuba instructor, I constantly see ads requiring candidates to have a specific type of physique.
And it isn’t just weight. There is beautiful people privilege as well, as highlighted in an interesting study showing how attractive people are more successful.
As kids we’re often taught how beauty is on the inside and how it’s subjective. However, that lesson quickly goes out the window by the time we hit middle school.
For years decades, I’ve fought this within myself. I am still living this myth that I’m not attractive. Sure, I have lots of gorgeous qualities, but you have to actually stop and talk to me to find those. And even then would it be enough for most people in romantic terms? My cobwebs will back me up.
Ever since watching the must-see What the Bleep Do We Know!, I’ve tried to change the internal tapes that say I’m unattractive simply because I feel like I’m pre-hippo. Unfortunately, I’ve had too much real-life experience to easily completely overwrite this stupid message.
But I’m still fighting against it.
My body-image issues are partly why you used to always see me hiding behind someone else in photos. I’ve made enough progress that I don’t care that you’ll see my moobs, my extra supply of chin, and that you can see the rolls of extra cushioning when you gaze at my shirt now. Until a couple of years ago, you never would’ve seen a photo of me shirtless.
When we’re in beach towns, I’m always envious of the guys who can walk around without their shirt on. I’ll do it on the beach, on the boat, or at the swimming pool, but that’s the only time. Usually I’ll even drape a towel over my torso to at least hide my bodacious breasts when we walk back to our room.
I’m working on improving this, but damn it’s a hard one to override!
Labels are for boxes.
What even started this whole musing post was posts I’ve seen on Reddit recently. I have so many people, mostly teenagers, wrestling with severe confusion. “I really like girls, but I find myself being curious about what it would be like with being a guy. Does that make me bi?!”
It seems to be more of a problem among young males, which is no surprise given how society treats any type of sexuality that isn’t strictly hetero. If you’re gay, you’re weak, a sissy boy, a fairy.
My answer to many of them is something I think we all could incorporate into our lives: Labels are for boxes.
So many of us are so focused on labels. It’s crazy!
How about we just love the people we fall in love with and don’t worry about all the other stupid nonsense? Aren’t relationships tricky enough without us adding in a bunch of other crap?
I think of this especially when I read the news. Uganda currently is dealing with a bill that would make being gay punishable by life imprisonment and would require people to report gays or be prosecuted. This from a country that has a 7% HIV/AIDS rate among people 15 and older. It affects more women than men, and it is causing a drastic rise in the rate of children being orphaned. How about you focus on that one? Or work on getting more access to fresh water?
I’m not sure what my country’s fascination is with what happens in my bedroom either. Why should anyone else care who someone else shares their bed, or backseat, with as long as they’re both/all consenting adults? The divorce rate in the US is around 53%. Sounds like people should be focused on their own bedroom.
Our puritanical approaches to sexuality is causing harm by an increase in HIV infection, among other things. The US has the highest teenage pregnancy rate of any developed nation. Maybe if we spent less time telling people who they should and should not fall in love with, we would have the ability to focus on teaching teens and others about safer sex practices.
Traveler vs. Tourist Myths
I see this one occurring every so often still. There is this primadonna assumption that a traveler is better than a tourist. So let me help you figure this one out. Do you travel? (Even if your travel is limited to the state you live in, answer this yes).
If you answered yes, you’re a traveler. Problem solved.
There are different types of travel, and none of them are better than any other. As far as I’m concerned, the important thing is you’re traveling. Whether that be in your own state, your country, long term, slow, fast, resort style, backpacker, I hope people travel more. When we see new places, it changes our perspective and alters us in a positive way.
Not everyone can handle the type of travel we’ve been doing for the last 3 years. And I wouldn’t want everyone to! Do what works for you. Live YOUR dreams, not mine, your parents’ or anyone else’s.
Sure, I think you get more from travel when you can stay in an area long enough to really absorb it, but not everyone has that luxury. Some people have 5 days and want to see all they can. I totally get that!
However, don’t rely on “can’t travel” as an excuse because really that’s total bulls**t for most of the people reading this blog. If something is important enough, we’ll work hard to find the means to achieve it.
Just don’t be a touron, okay?
Which of your personal and/or societal myths would you like to change?