Skin Color, Body Type, and a Whole Lot of Mixed Up Prejudices

Dr. Rev. Jenine Marie

When I was growing up, the big thing during the summer was to get a tan. The commercials started rolling in toward the end of spring to get that “Coppertone” tan. Many of us felt we had to buy that product and sit and bake in the sun. After many years I can see how ridiculous that was since I have had to deal with skin cancer due to my teenaged baking sprees.

The irony of the whole “tan thing” was I am a female with very light skin; always have been. My teen years were during times of substantial racial unrest, integration, and opposition. Yet, if I was too white without a tan, I was made fun of. This made no sense to me then, and it makes no sense to me now. I even had a man who lived nearby as I raised my children who insisted I looked sickly and needed to go to the doctor because I was too white. He was of Hispanic descent.

Are racial disputes and struggles really about skin color or lack of privilege? When I look back on my life, I don’t recall any type of privilege, but I do remember a whole lot of disapproval no matter what I did. If I had a tan, I was “trying too hard to be darker.” If I had no tan, I was “too white.”

The same has always been true of whatever body shape I had. If I lost too much weight, I was too thin. If I gained weight, comments shot at me that it was apparent I was gaining weight. If I dyed my hair lighter, I was trying to “be like Barbie.” An in-law used to call me Barbie. How disturbing is that?

Since I wore make-up, my eyelashes were too long. I’ve always had long eyelashes. I get them from my father! Those who wore no make-up had their own opinions of me, and those who did felt competition. There never was any competition on my end. I only wanted to be myself.

If I excelled in the workplace, I was snubbed by some who thought, “I must have done something with someone to get where I was.” Could I just have been ambitious and intelligent? If that was the case, isn’t that alright? When I excelled in school, I was a “teacher’s pet.” Really? In all honesty, there were very few teachers or professors I ever truly appreciated.

Sometimes at dances, I was too short and sometimes not short enough. That depended on who I was dancing with. Or maybe I wouldn’t say I liked the right music or the right clothing. As I got older, either my rear end was too big or too small. I think you get the picture. Let’s face it; we live in a world of those who make judgments according to their own lenses. We see this every day in magazines and movies. Especially women are “told” what acceptable is, and if we fall short of that, we feel unacceptable. Even worse, unaccepted. Oh, it does happen with men as well, but women more for some reason. Maybe it seems that way because I am a female, so don’t quote me on that one!

Acceptance is a genuine human need and desire. We all want that. We are the same in that respect. Here is the bottom line and advice on how to get along in a world that looks at us through its own lens. First of all, realize that everyone has their own lens because they have their own hurts, programmed standards, and prejudices. Yes, I used the “p” word, “prejudice.” Prejudging comes from what we have learned through time. We are not born with prejudicial standards. We learn them from others. We accept them out of our need to be accepted.

Secondly, we attract who we are. If we want acceptance, we need to accept ourselves with no input from anyone else. This can be hard because it means un-programming all of those things we have been pre-programmed with. Loving ourselves unconditionally helps attract unconditional love and acceptance. Loving ourselves might take some healing work because of the scars developed from rejection and prejudices.

Remember also, we all are in the same boat. We all know what it is like to be rejected by someone at some point in time. Shouldn’t this give us more compassion and not less? It all takes time and inner work. Sometimes I still think I am too fat, too white, too blonde, too intelligent, too emotional, too sensitive, too everything. The truth is I am not “too anything.” I am just me, and that should be fine with me. I hope being just you will come to be okay for yourself.

Be proud of who you are, and don’t let that go. It is alright to be confident, intelligent, sensitive, compassionate, and accepting. Above all else, be unconditionally loving to yourself and work on being that for others as well. It’s a process and one that might take patience, but we gain endurance for the ride with patience. (Or at least I have read!)

Loving you from here,

Dr. Rev. Jenine Marie Howry, Ph.D.

JenineMarie.com

Instagram: @lifelessonsbyjeninemarie

Acceptance vs. Judgement

8902765-Two-beautiful-women-having-conversation-drinking-coffee-and-sitting-on-couch-home-Stock-PhotoI remember sitting in a restaurant one afternoon and happened to overhear a conversation going on at the next table. One woman was telling another, “I really don’t care what people think of me, or if they even like me”. She definitely had a tone that carried an attitude with the statement. I smiled to myself at that moment because I knew that I had thought, and even said, the very same thing at one time or another. Usually we say this when there is some sense of lack of acceptance or scorn as to what we do or have done.

Bitterness aside, we tend to lie to ourselves when we make a statement like this. We all know that a basic human need is to be accepted, and it is totally alright to admit we have this as a need in life. Acceptance tends to be blended in with how we feel we are loved and looked upon by others. Our lives were never intended to be lived as an island without those who love, accept, and care for us. In fact to be without the acceptance and love from people we are basically dead or dying from the inside out.

We all like to know that we have value placed upon us by others. We should know we have tremendous value placed upon us and within us by God. We all need a reminder that acceptance is a gift both to receive and to give. We totally cause people to live when we give them unconditional acceptance in life.

The biggest deterrent to acceptance is judgement. (Something none of us are truly qualified to do). We tend to judge quite often, though. It is easy to do when we are filled with so many different opinions, ideas, and beliefs. Sometimes we forget that we can reject an action or belief and still accept the person. I’m inclined to believe this is the high road to take. I know it can be easier said than done.  A person is a being of many facets and an accumulation of many life experiences. Surely there can be one or even two things one can like or accept about most people. This does not mean we keep the door open wide for each individual to share our more personal life. Discernment in whom we completely relate to as friends and loved ones can go a long way. Still, this does not keep us from showing all others that they are accepted for their strengths and things that we aspire to as well. We tend to attract to us those we are most like anyway.

It is easier to accept the lives of others when we examine our own need for the same thing. As the Bible says, we really should “do unto others as we would want done to ourselves”. It is always nice to have someone in life who will counteract the lie when we say we don’t care what others think of us or say about us. We really really do care. Maybe as a gift to our empowerment process as women, and as people, we need to think of someone everyday and tell them how accepted they are and for what reasons. Complimenting a person’s attributes can be a very empowering thing.

Can I give you the challenge right now to accept something you like about someone whom you tend to not think highly of? Take a moment, close your eyes, think of that person. Tell yourself, “Instead of judging this person for what I don’t like about them, I am going to accept the great things that I do like about them”. I’m willing to bet your attitude will change about them. Again, this does not mean you need to let someone into your life who will come in and just wreak havoc. I have had to let people go in my life who do this sort of thing. Life comes with enough drama to invite more. Living in chaos is not worth the ride.

But, acceptance in the heart can go a long way in helping us all be a little kinder to one another and to judge less. Do you agree? In the mean time, pray about that times you say that you really don’t care what others think of you and what that really means. You probably need some sort of healing for a wound, or there can be something you are not accepting about yourself!

Acceptingly Yours,

Rev Jenine Marie Howry

http://jeninemarie.com

**Photo credit from www.123rf.com

 

Accept and Empower “The Divorced”

1747132-broken-wedding-rings-in-divorceThis morning I was sipping on my usual cup of coffee just beginning my day as consciously as I can, when I stumbled upon an article, “What the Divorced Christian Wants You to Know”.

As I read the article an old familiar road block started to take over my insides as I reflected with an agreeing nod upon my own past experience as a divorced woman. Divorce is a hard thing to experience in this life. No one that I have ever met goes into a marriage with a conscious decision to someday divorce. Most women have high hopes for love, security, sense of family, and dedication. We are created in this world with the instinct to “couple”, and I believe that instinct is in all women whether that life choice is made or not.

I remember a time when I was seeking my first ordination and my admittance to seminary. I was very passionate about seeking and serving the God I have come to love and respect. The task was not as easy as I thought it would be in light of the belief I held that everyone should have the opportunity to serve God. Much to my dismay I learned that “I was divorced” by many organizations not to mention I was a divorced “woman”. I was coming up against a double hitter of rejection there. I did eventually find a ministerial organization who took me in as a divorced woman and gave me the blessing of theological education and also ordination. An opportunity to marry my Lord in an official way was not one I took lightly divorced or not. The situation begged to answer the question, “Am I less worthy to serve God because I am divorced”? This is not just an isolated incident. Later on in life when I was seeking my Master’s Degree in Christian counseling I was also rejected by a Christian university for the same reason.

Allow me to enlighten any of you who really desire to know about divorce and the process. Not only do we not go into a marriage with the idea of divorce on our minds, but who on earth would even purposely want that grief? Divorce is a loss and a very deep grief, no matter how much we might feel we need the process at the time. A divorced woman (or any person for that matter) has been grieving all along. A marriage does not just end, it has been in a process of ending. The process of coming to the final decision of divorce is a very difficult one. Then after all is said and done there is a grief period afterward as well. We allow grief time for most losses in this world but not many recognize the grief process in divorce. We grieve not just the marriage, but connected family, future possibilities, and also our hopes and dreams we have worked hard for. It is a severing of the physical things in this world and the soulful.

I’ve said all of this to state, “please be compassionate to the divorced woman”. For heaven’s sake, accept her and empower her to continue and finish strong. If you have never experienced divorce, kudos to you! What a blessing to never have to endure the grieving and loss that divorce causes. If you can’t empower her, at least give her the benefit of the doubt. No one ever knows the inner workings of another person’s relationship. That divorced woman in front of you might have endured severe abuse. Do we really want to abuse her more by rejecting her? I hope not. Don’t deny her the ability to better herself, but in fact, give to her a hand up in this world. She does not want your pity either. Offer her your compassion instead. I know whomever she is, she will love you for it!

 

Em-powerfully Yours,

Rev Jenine Marie Howry

“A divorced, and remarried, empowered woman”

 

**Image found on www.colourbox.com