I've been doing a bit of reading around the Endangered Species women's summit that took place in New York on Friday and Saturday. More than 500 people attended, according to the summit's website, to discuss issues ranging from airbrushing and image manipulation to perfectionism and the rise of eating disorders among men. There's a short write-up on the summit's website and podcasts will be posted there in coming days for anyone who's interested. In the meantime, here's a few links to give you a flavour of the event. Activist Jamie Boschan wrote this summary after attending the event. From afar, meanwhile, Elena Rossini, a documentary filmmaker who also describes herself as a feminist, an idealist and a tree-hugging-animal-loving-vegetarian, monitored Twitter feeds (#esummit for Twitter fans) and put together a summary entitled 'On Twitter, witnessing the start of a body revolution'. Rossini also made a great video back in 2009 entitled 'La femme ideale n'existe pas' ('The perfect woman doesn't exist' - something I'd like to remind myself of every day), which was shown at the summit. And in checking out Rossini's work, I came across The Illusionists, an English language, feature-length documentary she made about the manipulation and exploitation of women’s insecurities about their bodies, for profit. That theme was well explored at the summit, it seems.
As a journalist, however, I know how important it is to present both sides of the story. It's clear there was a lot of passionate discussion and 'revolution' is a pretty powerful word but some will question whether all this talk can translate into action or change - particularly as the change has to start with ourselves, with the magazines we buy, the TV shows we watch, the culture we subscribe to and the thoughts we have about our bodies. For a slightly more critical view of the summit, check out this blog by Michelle, a New York social work student. She wasn't altogether happy with the lack of diversity on one of the panels - particularly at an event that was all about promoting diversity.
I'll just add one quote I particularly liked from the summit's opening speech, delivered by Courtney E. Martin, a writer, teacher, speaker and editor of Feministing.com - an online community of feminists and their allies. She said: "We are writing plays, books, making films, and creating art that repaints the world to be more inclusive of the true breathtaking diversity of bodies. And, of course, we are healing ourselves, everyday, in all kinds of small and beautiful ways."
I guess that's my focus, to heal myself everday, in small and beautiful ways. Some days I manage it, some days I don't and I slip back into negative thinking and unhealthy behaviours, but I'm glad I'm on the right path.
I'll admit, though, that I've felt a little off balance the past few days. I kind of lost my peace. My head has been extremely busy, despite supposedly getting some R&R in North Wales. There have been peaceful moments - particularly on top of the mountain in the sunshine or on the beach - but not as many as I'd hoped for. And it seems my body has been trying to tell me I was off balance, but I wasn't really listening. As soon as I slowed down a little and took my foot off the gas, I ended up with a bit of a cold and a cold sore on my lip - not a good look but I did my best to accept it! It's been a great reminder that our bodies really are miraculous things and they'll tell us when we need to slow down or stop. And they'll keep telling us, with cold sores, colds, aches and pains, tears, unhealthy behaviours around food (in my case), and even with more drastic things like car crashes. Yes, I do have a friend who had several pretty severe car crashes until she realised she really had to slow down and take it easy.
I did discover a great way today, however, to take my mind off whatever small or big thing might be occupying it: competitive sport. Ok, so it was just a little game of football in the park with my nephews but it was enough to get me back into the moment and to remind me that I always loved playing sport in teams or with other people. So I'd like to spend less time on those solitary machines in the gym or swimming lengths. I'd like to look into a team sport that's suitable for a 40-year-old woman with an ankle injury but a fierce competitive streak.
And finally, not sure if anyone noticed but in Day Ten's post, I wrote "employee" rather than "employer". I've added the correction in italics in brackets, which I think is going to be my way of correcting errors in my blog from now on. However, I then thought maybe that was a Freudian slip. Maybe my days of being employed are over and, going forward, I'm going to be the employer. We will see.