Wednesday 24 October 2012

The power of Aunties

I have three sisters and only one of them has no children. And yet her role with all the children in our family is vital to their sense of belonging. She is Aunty to 7 children who love and adore her. Being an Aunty is a powerful thing. There is connection but space, (unless the Aunty is the full time carer). Nieces and nephews look to Aunties for company, fun and guidance, and sometimes a safe place away from a troubled home.
In ancient women's business Aunties rule. They are the women who lead, nurture and protect children and the earth. They are respected by their communities and valued for their great contributions.
Did you have an Aunty when you were a child? Can you remember her smell, what she looked like, what she taught you? Did you want to grow up to be like her. In my book Finding Artemisia both Artemisia and Diana, her psychologist,  had strong connections to their Aunts. Would you like to share your story?

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Mothers and daughters

Our mothers are our first mirrors, they have the eyes we seek, the love we need, the touch we crave. But what if they are aloof, distracted, angry, grieving, anxious, unsupported AND in pain? It's hard not to take it personally. But that's what we do in the modern world.  Take it all on. As daughters, we are very susceptible to our mothers,  AND there's a big chance we'll end up mothering, just like them. Or even avoid motherhood altogether.
The modern mother-daughter relationship is intense, often too intense for both parties: boundaries are blurred, co-dependence abounds, and roles reverse chaotically. Pity the daughter who has to search herself to find the way to mother her own daughter.
So what would make a mother a positive mirror? What would she need to be able to connect, love, enjoy, play, as well as nurture her darling daughter?
The answer is  easily found in ancient women's business, where the child is loved and nurtured by all those around her. In effect, she has a wide selection of mirrors, rather than the singular. Imagine the freedom in that for both mother and daughter. Mother would not be isolated, anxious, or over burdened, but rather she would have the support of a strong base and a sense of belonging to the community of women, who understand what women need. And the daughter therefore would be less dependent on her, moving freely from one set of arms to another.
Too idealistic you say. I think not. We have ancient women's business in our genes: we love to get together, laugh and share. We just need to make an effort to create community wherever we are so that our daughters will feel safe and protected from the intensity of the modern mother/daughter realtionship and then their daughters and their daughters......
Want to give it ago. Tell us what you would do first.

Thursday 11 October 2012

This is the path Diana took around Uluru, the world's largest monolith and where she contemplates the issues plaguing women today: women's self esteem, body image and worth. Here she experiences the importance of the role of the mother in a girl's development. Although a mother herself, psychologist Dr Diana Verdi rarely has the time to support the mothers of the girls she treats for anorexia. But after her time with Aboriginal women, she realises  she had been treating the girls in the "vacuum" of her therapy room, without the support of the mothers, aunties and the community.
She has in fact replaced Artemisia's mother on one level, and so when the girl disappears she is devastated. It is only when she is immersed in the ancient women's business of the Australian Aboriginal women,  that she realises that psychology and therapy alone are not enough to heal the girl.

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Lady Gaga’s Image Free Zone

Lady Gaga has a broad fan base and is encouraging them to bare their bodies as a way of uniting them against the constant onslaught of the media and the image makers. Supported by her mother, she invites her fans to bare all.

She announced her new campaign with this thought-provoking announcement on her website:

What a good idea! It’s only when women and girls get to see each other’s bodies do they realize the variety of body types that exist. And why wouldn’t there be? Why do we think we have to aspire to one particular body type, one definition of beauty per se. Because the image makers have very little imagination. The same old stereotypes glare at us from magazines and television shows. And then we, alone, and often in isolation, compare ourselves to these images and of course we are nothing like them. We are round, short, small, tall, big, freckled, hairy, bumpy, smooth, black, white, etc etc AND we don’t get to see each other’s bits.

When I was visiting the Aboriginal women in the centre of Australia, I was amazed to see soooooo many different breast shapes for a start compared to the standard tennis ball look being sold by plastic surgeons. Of course the Aboriginal women didn’t have mirrors, magazines or TV so they have never been told that they are not good looking enough, or that their looks could be improved. Imagine that. Just taste the freedom in that!   That’s what I want women to imagine…how free they could be, if they could just get out of the body image/ beauty trap.

In the words of Naomi Wolf: “'Beauty' is a currency system like the gold standard. Like any economy, it is determined by politics, and in the modern age in the West it is the last, best belief system that keeps male dominance intact.”

The tragic thing is that women are allowing it and modeling it for the girls that grow up in their care and company. So come women: Let’s unite against the BODY IMAGE trap.