Getty Images, Dieter Spears / Vetta
I have a geek podcast. We talk about…cosplay, sci-fi, superheroes, comic books, video games, cong langs, board games, etc. I love what I do. I LOVE all of those things we talk about on our show. We have been to several conventions of different sorts…and I love those, too. A few months back we were invited to an anime convention. My co-host and I were both pretty clueless about anime, but we agreed it would be a fun new thing to learn about.
I watched several anime shows in preparation. I loved some of them and really couldn’t stomach others. I expected this con to be basically similar to all the others I had attended. I was wrong. It was a much younger crowd. The attendees were mostly teens. These kids were creative and amazing and funny. And often they found community with other like-minded souls. There were a lot of great things happening…a group of boys dressed as soldiers marching through the vendor room singing “Be a Man” from Mulan, girls dressed as scouts from Attack on Titan standing at attention saluting a girl taking their photo, teens walking by in unbelievably intricate cosplays they lovingly handcrafted themselves.
But something stopped me in my tracks.
I stood in front of a vendor’s booth. It was similar to all the other booths in every way. I had been bombarded with these images all day…but I finally collapsed under it. The wall of posters behind the vendor was almost entirely women, some anime, some superhero. There they were…giant boobs and butts…these women were in the most ridiculous poses. They were not telling stories of their bravery or heroism or strength. They were selling their sexy. Don’t get me wrong here. I am not anti-sexy. But the girls displayed on that wall didn’t need the treatment they were given.
The two that stood out to me among the spandex and school girls with giant cleavage were Katara (from Avatar:The Last Airbender) and Mikasa (from Attack on Titan). These two girls are heroes in their stories. They are brave and nurturing, kind and selfless. They have attributes I wholeheartedly hope to obtain someday. In the poster, however…they looked like sex kittens. Mikasa even had boobs (in the show she is pretty flat chested). Something in me wanted to stand up on the table of the vendor and gather all the young girls in the hall around me and tell them that this (pointing hysterically to the posters behind me) is not why these girls are amazing and valuable. This is the candy coating…it’s nothing…it melts away. I wanted to tell them all that they are so much more valuable than cleavage and short schoolgirl skirts. I didn’t want to condemn them for their cosplays…not in the least. What I wanted was to make sure that they knew that they are worth so much more than all of that surface crap. The thought came into my head, You are worth so much more than the skin you are in.
I hate these posters. The art is amazing and the women are beautiful, but, but. Hmmmm…well. I have three daughters; perhaps that is why I feel passionate. I want my daughters to express their beauty. But maybe my idea of beauty is just different. This poem is what I want for my daughters.
For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge you’ll never walk alone.
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed;
Never throw out anybody.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you’ll find one at the end of your arm. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.
The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.
The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows!
- Sam Levenson
I love cosplay and I love these female superheroes, but for the sake of my daughters and all the other young girls out there who might cry themselves to sleep because they don’t fit into the mold created by these posters and they never will….I want to deliver a different message: you are worthy of love just as you are. How you look is irrelevant.
I have struggled with acne for YEARS…pretty much most of my life. But I have for about the last four months experienced clear skin, beautiful skin. It has been delightful to go without makeup and feel okay about it, to not constantly be worried about what new hell I will find on my face when I next look in a mirror. When this idea about beauty hit me, it brought with it a horrible break-out on my face. It was like a dare…do you really believe this? Are you really just as valuable now that your face is a war zone? Are you worth more than the skin you’re in?
The answer, my friends, is YES. I am just as valuable, and so are you. The reason we love these poster women has VERY little to do with how they look. They are beautiful, yes, but so is Cersei on Game of Thrones, and I can hardly stand to look at her. They are strong, brave, true to themselves, vulnerable, kind, forgiving, alive, selfless, adventurous, funny, smart…and the list goes on and on. They are what we want to be because of those things. That is what is beautiful.
You are worth so much more than the skin you are in.