Beauty, Goodness & Self Worth As Female Expressions Of God's Love | 2Ps in a Pod by Anne

Andrea Mary Marshall’s Toxic Women Female Archetypes AOC Private Studio

Dear Bro. Dennis,

When I read your words in this recent post ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It?’:

The second greatest commandment from the Christian perspective is to, “love your neighbor as yourself”. Authentic love requires the humility to see our selves in the manner in which God has created us. It is essential to identify our individual beauty, viability, goodness and worth in order to see our selves as a reflection of God’s love.

 … they resonate deeply with me. And while no one — including me — can speak for all women, those voices and suppressed thoughts from our readers and millions more women are percolating in my unconscious.

Your own perspective on God’s love is soothing and confidence-building for women. But as I told you, my own experience with learning to love myself was a journey that many — including my own mother — would label an ultimate act of narcissism.

Narcissism in the Search for Self Love

For every enlightened person like yourself, I wonder how many other people would condemn my self-photography project. In my case, the images became an ultimate act of self-exploration and understanding triggered by my friend Bill. Sharing photos of me completely clothed and snapped in front of the bathroom mirror, he asked me about cropping my images. 

At first I denied the cropping (I wasn’t taking the time to do any retouching, which I can also do in Photoshop.) But when he then said “Anne, images don’t come out of your camera 3.7” by 5.2”,” there was no place to hide. His next words cemented our connection to each other for many years: “Anne, I’m no psychiatrist, but it seems to me that if you don’t like something about yourself, you just chop it off. Aren’t you symbolically cutting yourself into little pieces? It’s a form of dismemberment.”

His words were scorching. Standing in front of the bathroom mirror, I confronted the reality that after all my years of success, accomplishment, and therapy to learn to love myself — my reality was that I loathed the woman in the mirror. Why? Yes, the years of intense physical and emotional abuse; yes, being judged and denied communion by the priest after my sexual assault. Yes, hearing my mother say that if the assault even happened — since my attacker insisted that I made the whole thing up — I caused it, because I must always be the center of attention.

Standing in front of the mirror, I saw decadence and shame over my sexuality, which at any weight and age has always by part of my persona. For all your words of wisdom about treating our bodies as temples, which we have agreed will be the focus on my post, I loathed mine.

My body was decadent and disgusting; and I grieved that such an intelligent mind could be attached to such an imperfect, polluted physical form. The physical blows of physical abuse recede from memory long before the words. When abuse attacks every aspect of our physical selves, those are the words that confront us in the mirror.

The Lens Doesn’t Lie, or Does It?

It was at this moment, early in 2004 that I picked up the camera and launched a deep exploration of myself, one that included every aspect of my physicality. I snapped the lens continuously for months — clothes on and clothes off — until I made peace with the corporeal nature of the woman I faced every morning.Daily exercise became part of my life and the pounds melted away.

Almost on cue, Andrea Mary Marshall’s toxic women female archetypes art works appeared this morning. I was so obsessed with them that I left the water boiling on the stove for an hour and nearly scorched my tea pot. Her images remind us of the many conflicting messages that women receive from brands, marketing, moms, community leaders, dads, religious figures, teachers, husbands, lovers … the nonstop list of inputs determining who and what women are supposed to be.

Nowhere do these images say “It is essential to identify our individual beauty, viability, goodness and worth in order to see our selves as a reflection of God’s love.” These images are all about making us into something else, improving women with the right hand while condemning us for being vain with the left.

It’s easy for you and I to tell women to find their own inner beauty and to believe that God loves us and our corporeal nature, that we have beautiful soft skin and smiles for a reason. The reality is that the messages condemning female physicality and beauty come not only in the form of commercialism and parental child abuse or bullying at school. Those messages come from many of our religious institutions.

One of the reasons we are so close Bro. Dennis is that we share a troubling concern about the rise of fundamentalism in every religion from Christianity to Islam to Judaism. Until I became involved in the flogging of 40,000 women a year in Sudan for inappropriate dress, my corporeal guilt was largely a private matter.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish demonstrators in Jerusalem were denounced by Israeli leaders on Sunday after wearing yellow stars and alluding to other images from the Nazi era. Jim Hollander/European Pressphoto Agency

Today I believe that many of our religious institutions are as guilty as repressive governments in condemning women’s physicality.

All Women Are Prostitutes

How will this little girl in Israel ever look at herself in the mirror and see her own beauty, able to regard her body as God’s temple?”

One Israeli television program recently reported how an 8-year-old girl, the daughter of American immigrants who are observant modern Orthodox Jews, had become terrified of walking to school in the city of Beit Shemesh after ultra-Orthodox men spit on her, insulted her and called her a prostitute because her modest dress did not conform exactly to their more rigorous dress code.

Tensions were further fueled by the arrest of an ultra-Orthodox man here last week on a charge of sexual harassment after he verbally abused a female Israeli soldier who had refused to move to the back of a public bus. An organizer of Saturday’s protest in the ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood told Israeli television that the actions of the authorities were like a “spiritual holocaust.” via New York Times

How can women love ourselves, when we are called prostitutes in every country in the world — just because we are women? How do I believe that God sees my female beauty and integrity, when I read:

Bound Tightly By the Good Book & God’s Will AOC Sensual Rebel

These dueling realties for the world’s women — including women in America — are the essence of our public struggle for self love and self identity at Anne of Carversville. In my own case, I refuse to be silent ever again, because I am lucky enough to have found my way out of this intellectual, spiritual, emotional morass called female identity into a place of self-healing.

Writing my annual holiday message yesterday, 2012 Sensual Joy and Spiritual Blessings To All Humanitarians — of which you are a key part of the discussion Bro. Dennis — I reaffirmed my commitment to women:

My words from last Christmas resonate even more today, this first day of 2012.

So many women are tired of being guilty, slutty sources of corruption and seduction. If I can help women see themselves in a mirror denied them by all the men in black —  in every country and most religions — then my life is worth something.

I don’t believe that God sees women as guilty, immoral, carnal creatures. It is total nonsense to believe that such a great force would create half the human world in ugliness and immorality, while blessing the other half in brains and virtue.

The True Nature of Women’s Lives

I’m an intensely strong person, Bro. Dennis — a proud survivor of womanhood, thanks to the second wave of feminism that is condemned by so many people. We both agree that if women could see their own beauty without the props of commercialism and the condemnation of religious and social institutions, we would be healthier, happier and more nurturing creatures living in a state of grace.

Your words are so comforting and encouraging, especially within the context of my own journey. And yet I have an obligation to frame them within the true reality of women’s lives and the strength of character required in each of us to celebrate the “individual beauty, viability, goodness and worth” that you see in women.

In spite of what Freud wrote, most of us don’t want to be men and believe that we can maximize our best selves as talented women. We American women have it good, compared to poor women in other countries who are born female and murdered; or married for our dowry in India and then set on fire.

Why does God let this go on for thousands of years, Bro. Dennis? Why is that little girl walking to school in Israel not dressed modestly enough? How is she a prostitute at eight years old? The wave or religious orthodoxy sweeping the world is taking women the wrong direction, and I fail to see the nobility of this cause. It gives me nightmares and I scream at these men in my sleep.

This is my struggle with your beautiful , profound words, even though I now accept them as true to myself. For every one of me, we lose hundreds and maybe thousands or millions of girls and women, who have no options to stand in front of the mirror and come to grips with this terrible, untrue stigma of being female. 

I leave you for now and apologize in advance for getting a bit off the topic we agree on Friday. With unintentional profanity and no offence intended to your personal state of grace and goodness, Anne

Andrea Mary Marshall’s Spectacular Female Archetypes Sensuality News Living