You Are “Less Than”?

How could anyone ever tell you
you were anything less than beautiful?

How could anyone ever tell you
you were less than whole?

How could anyone fail to notice
that your loving is a miracle?

How deeply you’re connected to my soul.

The song “How Could Anyone,” has had a worldwide healing impact. The lyrics have touched AIDS orphans, cancer survivors, disabled teens, and women and girls redefining beauty.

These words by Libby Roderick have touched me, too.

I first heard them soon after I’d broken up with a boyfriend. This man had said nothing outright about my being “less than,” but sent heavy cues by his occasional gaping at women who took up all the space of his vision while I disappeared.

When I asked about it, he said, “Well, yeah, other women are more attractive than you.” And added, “There’s an archetypal image that men are just naturally drawn to.” Archetypal Playmate, that is.

Men are naturally drawn to something unnatural? Plastic-chested, unnaturally starving and airbrushed? The current ideal is actually both new and strange.

In his eyes I felt less than beautiful. And less than whole.

But this song made me reflect on whether I wasn’t whole or whether he simply had a partial view.

Just what is whole, really? What is beautiful?

False, synthetic, shallow?

Genuine, sincere, heartfelt, deep connection?

When we meet those who dwell on the surface, living with limited sight – whether ourselves or others – forgiveness begs. For blocked vision brings suffering to the seer.

And remember:

Every loving thought is true

   Everything else is an appeal for healing or help

                                                      From Accept This Gift

It’s not that we’re not whole. But in obstructed vision, we aren’t entirely seen.

How Could Anyone
Words and music by Libby Roderick c 1988
From the recordings “How Could Anyone” and “If You See a Dream”
Turtle Island Records Anchorage Alaska

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on July 29, 2011, in body image, feminism, gender, men, objectification, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. This post is pretty much relatable to every one because it’s specifically targetting the fact that every one has insecurities. Though a lot of younger generations might think that the older you get, the less insecure you’ll be, I find that statement untrue because I still know a handful of older women and men who are still equally or somewhat insecure whether it’s about their looks or personality. Insecurity will always follow us, in my opinion because humans need to feel like they belong and if they don’t, they start to question themselves if they are good enough or pretty enough or masculine enough. It’s a never-ending cycle and all because social media has a major influence on the modern society. Social media and the marketing choices of advertisements are the sole reasons for insecurities to rise within younger generations. I think most people fail to understand that the more time that younger generations spend on social media, the more insecure they will be because they are exposed to all ads telling them to “look” a certain way, or even “be” a certain way. These younger folks might have a difficult time “finding” their true self because they are all so influenced with what a person should look like from social media today.

  2. This is really touching and could relate to some family members personally. Every loving thing is true – amen

  3. This right here is so unbelievably beautiful, for a woman that is constantly being bashed on for being “not good enough” is just makes me speechless. Makes me think of how badly women suffer for several things that society shows everyone this fake version of women and make real woman look like they are not close to being beautiful. Women these days have so many different self esteem issues just because they look at themselves as “fat, too big, ugly this, ugly that,” always focusing on where their flaws are instead of looking around them and actually accepting the fact that you were born like that as gorgeous as you could ever be, every woman is beautiful in different ways and different areas, just accept it. But having the society constantly having to categorize “what is beautiful” in their eyes makes us be brainwashed of what truly is which is having to be comfortable in your own skin.

  4. Ashley Steffenson

    I think that it’s extremely important to keep in mind that one’s self worth should be entirely dependent on yourself. If you put your self worth on a significant other, when they are taken away from you- you feel helpless because your self worth is now taken away. The same thing with having a disease or cancer. If you put your self worth on your health, then you’ll want to give up on yourself once diagnosed with HIV, AIDS, cancer, or other serious illnesses. Putting your self worth on something entirely other than your sole self is only setting yourself up to fail once that thing fails, which is will because not everything in life is perfect all the time. It’s bound to make you feel less of a human once that thing is gone too because along with it being gone, you also lose your self worth or care. You can’t trust your self worth with societal values either with being big breasted and small waisted or other appearance derived values in yourself. At the end of the day, the only thing that you can count on is yourself. Not anybody else and certainly not their opinions of you. It doesn’t make you any less of a person just because human beings go through normal human experiences like break ups, health problems, or looking different from one another. We’re suppose to go through these things. It’s a part of human life and trail and error. Silencing the truth and honesty behind these things don’t silence the problem. They just make them more internalized and in a lot of ways, more dangerous because you’re forgetting the true meaning of self worth and appreciation.

  5. I really enjoyed this post and I feel very strongly on the issues that come from the superficial image women are supposed to portray. Everyday women are bombarded with messages on how they are supposed to look and act and men especially hold women to these unrealistic standards. Because of this, girls of all ages turn to unhealthy ways of getting this ideal image such as eating disorders and plastic surgery. These standards that women are supposed to live up to not only effect their physical being but also their mental and emotional being. More and more girls are depressed and have body dysmorphic disorder. I had a friend who suffered from BDD and tried everything in her power to look better. She eventually had to be hospitalized due to anorexia. It’s really sad when people take such drastic measure to live up to something that no one ever will. Not even the models who they try to look like really look the way they do in magazines or on billboards. But really who’s to say what is beautiful and what isn’t? Nobody does. Nobody’s perfect and no women or man should ever feel as though they are less than anything because they don’t look a certain way. Beauty is socially constructed. What constitutes as beautiful has changed throughout history and will continue to change which is why nobody should expect anybody else to live up to something so unsteady. Everyone is important and beautiful and needed and nobody should ever feel less than.

  6. It’s very true the surface seems to be very important, and even your worth as a male if you attract that “type” if you will,seems enhanced by your peers. This is unfortunate because to desire the unnatural is to by definition desire something that is manipulated or not caused by a normal set of events. Therefore attraction to this “type” is an attraction to something that is not real. But that’s just my opinion I could be wrong.

  7. I love this blog in many ways because Ive actually experinced this and had people tell me that im not pretty nor do i have a nice body like “such and such”. But at the end of the day, I have realized on my own that I am not less than anything in this world unless me,myself and I actually come to believe that. I dont think anyone is less than anything or anybody. One day somebody will love you for you and all the flaws you endure. You dont have to change for anybody.

  8. I think we all can relate to this song. In some time in our lives someone does achieve to make us feel unworthy. In my case I use to give more and more just to get something back, meaning some type of love and affection from by boyfriend. Although I helped him with his mentally ill daughter and took care of his home and cooked for him every day, it was never good enough. His ways of making me feel bad was by not been intimate with me but he was going out with someone else. I was the perfect mother for his child but not the best partner for him. Every time I was ready to leave he would turn nice and bought me things even flowers and romantic dinners. I knew in my heart that he was with some one else but because I had no prove I kept quiet and some times I thought I was wrong for thinking bad about him. At the end of the relationship when he was not getting to me any more and started to do my own thing he started to make comments about my body and comparing it to a fat cow. At the time I was not working and I was in the middle of my semester. This is when I realize that what he was trying to do was to have total control of me so he can have the mother for his child and keep his lover too. I got strong and started to have a plan to move out and to get my own place. Now looking back the only thing I regret is not leaving sooner.

  9. This filled my eyes with tears I could barley see what I’m writing, it was written with so much compassion for her to write with such choice words. If this were to be mine it would of been this beep, beep, beep guy. I think if every one found themselves a true love, someone that they could not live with out there would be less judgments about physical bodies going around about how imperfect our individual bodies are. Such a sweet blog thank you for being so brave to share .

    • i love this blog its very touching and everyone can learn from it. after cancer i had a big disgusting red scar right on my throat. its horrible when ever i would meet someone new they would stare at it. i was used to that, before i would get stared at my chest because they are big for my frame and i was so annoyed it was even worse after my surgery. They were staring but now it was with a odd look on their face like i was contagious. i hated talking about it everyone asked me what was wrong with me.
      now i dont mind because if you care about a scar then you really arent a person i wanna be with.
      everyone has something different even people with illness or, disease, or disability its no ones place to say they are less than whole or anyting. its mean and it makes me sad to see how superficial people can be

  10. this blog really has touched my heart. and this song i can feel the compassion towards insecurity. i can relate to this quote because i know how it feels to feel insecure. i was in a past relationship that was very unhealthy and it took me 3 years to realize that i am beautiful, i am worthy. women look towards men to make them feel at ease when really you need to find peace within yourself. you need to know you are worthy before somebody else can thing your worthy. yes theirs always going to be someone thats more attractive then you, but i really do feel that you should love you for yourself. and feel that you are worthy then any other and if a man cant see that about you then he doesnt deserve you. i think alot of women exspecially teenage women mistaken love. i feel like this because love shouldnt make you insecure should not put you in pain. i can relate to this quote because i had somebody in my life who made me feel not good enough because he would be talking to others while we were together. it took me a long time to realize that insecurity can kill, and you need to let go and love who you are. Insecurities can take you by surprise. It eats away at you, and not only causes depression and for you to become ever emotional, but psychologically it forces you to believe you’re something that you’re not. What makes it harder, is when you truly believe in yourself and you know you’re better…

  11. this post puts tears in my eyes… “Every loving thought is true. Everything else is an appeal for healing or help” this sentense is so true, and so sad, and so undeniable.

    Love is a verb! thanks for this post, ms. platts.

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