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Finding Inspiration

It seems you can’t log on to the internet these days without being buried under an avalanche of body image articles.

This is particularly true of “women’s interest” websites. The majority of these pieces are well- intended, imploring us to love our bodies as they are even though they don’t measure up to some pre-ordained ideal. I have several issues with this sort of thing. Firstly its absurd that there is an ideal in the first place. True self acceptance is difficult when we are constantly reminded of the model of perfection we’ll never achieve. Secondly whilst we’re discussing these issues, even in the most positive way, we are still thinking about our bodies. Its high time we moved the conversation along and switched the focus to our intelligence, talents and spirit.

The energy-zapping body image debate reached fever pitch in early October when the Sydney Sun Herald journalist Kate Waterhouse did a career-wrecking interview with the voluptuous actress Christina Hendricks. Kate posed the following question ” You have been an inspiration as  a full-figured woman. What is the most inspiring story that you  can remember where you’ve inspired someone”. That’s a triple shot of inspiration.

All that Christina heard was “fuller figured” and protested that the term was insulting. The digital storm raged for weeks afterwards centered on the “fuller figured” moniker. Punters furiously debated whether Christina was actually “fuller figured” and whether that was a good or bad thing. However very few spoke about the appropriateness of Christina being regarded as an “inspiration”. To her immense credit the mega blogger Mrs Woog raised that very question. She made the salient point that a woman should not be defined by and certainly not considered “inspiration” because of her body type. Three cheers – hip, hip hooray!

I’m going to pick up this ball and run it a little closer to the try line. Inspiration is easy to see when you open your eyes to it. Its probably residing on your street. In my social circle there are many fantastic ladies who blow me away by what they achieve.

There’s the wonderful woman who runs a multi-million dollar clothing business with her husband. She’s used her fortunate position to form an alliance with a well-known children’s charity and works tirelessly to raise funds and awareness for the cause. There’s another mum of two who works four days a week and runs a small business on the side but has the generosity of spirit to give her time and handiwork to great causes. Another lovely lady I know has three boys under six and no extended family support. Nevertheless she’s managed to kick start her jewellery-making business. Her gorgeous creations are inspiring to me. Yet another marvelous friend often works night shift as a nurse. She returns home to do a full day’s heavy lifting with her kids without sleep. Her energy and determination are amazing.

One doesn’t have to be juggling paid work or business with family to be inspirational – far from it. One of the most energetic women I know is a stay-at-home mother-of-three. The amount of volunteer work she does for the local primary school is phenomenal. She can also throw a kids’ shindig to rival the Middleton family.

If you can’t find inspiration within your social circle, surely you aren’t looking hard enough. Perhaps the inspirational has become too common place. Busy Mums and Dads who give freely of their time to help out schools, sporting groups, churches and charities are hardly a novelty. By contrast, a size 14 woman having a successful acting career is almost unheard of. Perhaps that explains why Christina Hendricks is held up as an inspiration.

Are you ready to move beyond the body image debate? Who are the inspirational women in your life?


photo credit: Brett Jordan via photopin cc

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