Mirror, Mirror on The Wall

There was a time when I wanted to be famous. I felt that if I could just see myself under bright lights, on the big screen, or the front page, I would finally feel like I mattered. In the last several years, I’ve stopped craving stardom. Maybe it’s in part because fame seems to be an easier feat to accomplish these days. Do or say something super provocative or heartwarming, post it online, watch it go viral, and—Voila! —for at least fifteen minutes everyone knows your name. But does fame even mean anything anymore now that it is so much more achievable? Then again, did it ever?

I’d like to think that the reason for the change in me goes deeper—that it is because I no longer need other people to look at me first before I am able to see myself or know that I have value. I’ve begun owning that I matter, cultivating this understanding from the inside out, rather than looking for that validation from the outside in.

For the longest time, none of this was the case at all. I let culture and the male gaze, especially, tell me who I was and how much I was worth. Often, that worthiness was tied to whether or not men found me desirable.

Every time I would look in the mirror, I would see what other people told me they saw. My perception of self—especially my female body—was always a secondhand experience, filtered first through the eyes of others.

When You Look In the Mirror, Who Do You See, Really? http://tinyurl.com/qbyymy8 (wikimedia commons)

In the U.S. during the early eighties, at age 13,  I was ugly and too brown—at least, that’s what I overheard Will K. tell Misha R. in class one day when he thought I wasn’t listening. For a while after that, whenever I’d look in the mirror, ugly and too brown is what I saw, too.

Three years later, when my family moved to the Philippines, all of a sudden people were telling me that with my big eyes and sharp nose I was sooo pretty. My dark skin went from “the color of mud” to “this beautiful Moorish-looking complexion, like that of our nation’s Spanish ancestors.”

But—ugly or soooo pretty— was I ever really one or the other? I now understand that what these people saw when they looked at me was dependent upon who was doing the gazing and whatever cultural perception of beauty that they were seeing me through.

It wasn’t until I turned 40, when society’s negative ideas about female aging began to eat at me that I realized: I’d spent most of my life only seeing myself as whatever people were reflecting back to me, for how long was I going to let that go on? Not a second longer, I hoped. I decided to take back my body, my beauty, and my womanhood, to free myself from the measuring and judging that comes from anyone else’s gaze but my own.

What does living that way even look like? How does it feel? I am in the process of figuring all of this out in big and small ways. Gazing at my breasts, my face, my belly, and every other part of me without the filter of someone else’s perception is one example. So was learning to shed my shame around  sexual pleasure. And then there have been those moments of re-connecting to my womb, owning my voice, claiming my desires, and coming to understand that just like the masculine, the feminine is sacred, too. And the discoveries continue…

This blog has been an important part of these explorations. It is a way to process and share what I’ve discovered.  And what a joyful surprise it has been to find out that so many of you want what I want: to free ourselves from the different cultural and societal lenses that keep us smaller and more one-dimensional than who we really are.

To all of you that have shown up here at Stories from the Belly to read, share your own experiences, discuss (sometimes even disagree),  express support, or make your presence known in other ways, thank you. I look forward to seeing you all in 2015.

Happy New Year!

 


82 Comments on “Mirror, Mirror on The Wall”

  1. KS says:

    Manigong bagong taon! I am so grateful for your blog.

  2. menomama3 says:

    “…society’s negative ideas about female aging began to eat at me that I realized: I’d spent most of my life only seeing myself as whatever people were reflecting back to me…” This shrieks to me because, as a 57-year old woman, I’m damn near invisible to many segments of society. Imagine reflecting nothing. Love this post. We are valuable because of who we are, not how others see us but it is excruciatingly hard to let go of “the filter of someone else’s perception”. But we must try.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you, menomama- very cool blog handle, btw. Yes- I feel like letting go of the filters, sometimes of which we don’t know is there, is so challenging, but it’s a big key to our liberation. ” Imagine reflecting nothing.” – this really hit me how you said it… one more reason that we need to be the one’s seeing ourselves.

  3. SirenaTales says:

    Dear Diahann, Your depth and honesty shine through this post, as with your others. I need to chew on this for awhile before commenting further, but in the meantime want to take the opportunity to thank you for sharing your wisdom, humor, inquisitiveness, and talent. And to wish you a new year full of discovery, inspiration, and joy. Love….

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you, Chloe. I wish the same for you. I really mean it every time I say I am so excited that we have “found” each other. I still remember going to your blog the first time and feeling so thrilled at the discovery. HappY New Year. I am finally done w/ me deadline, btw- I was finishing up my first draft of my book- so look forward to stopping by in your neck of the woods more. xo

      • SirenaTales says:

        This is SO exciting, Diahann–congratulations on finishing the first draft of your book! What a way to start the new year with a bang :). I assume you will be letting us know when the book is available, yes? In the meantime, I want to note how intriguing and powerful your identification and discussion of “the gaze” from others is for me. Very helpful and resonant. Thanks for sharing your journey of disengaging from the seductive and addictive lure of “the gaze” of others. You inspire, my wise and brave friend. Shine on! xoxo

        • diahannreyes says:

          Thank you, Chloe. I still have a ways to go- but this was a draft I worked on for over two years and tried writing six plus years ago so it felt like a milestone in the creative birthing process. Will definitely let everyone know when it’s available but will probably be awhile. But much closer than I’ve ever been.

          I’m glad to hear that the topic of “gaze” struck an opening. I personally not sure if it is possible to ever get to the point of 100% disengagement but I’m sure going to keep trying (while cutting myself some slack along the way.) Hope you are enjoying the post-NY glow. XOX

  4. i am going to be 25 pretty soon. i am overweight and have been so since my teen years when i suddenly gained a lot of weight. i struggle constantly with body image among other issues. i never tried losing weight because it felt like rebellion in some sort of way, like i was going my own way instead of following the slim thin tall pretty world. but now i see that i was just hurting myself more. i have recently started exercising not because i want to be thin and beautiful (although i do want to be pretty) but because i want to be healthy! i don’t want to be 50 someday and not be able to enjoy life because of health problem. happy new year!

    • aqilaqamar says:

      I am so proud of you because I too know this feeling. People around me want me to be thin for guys I am not saying I shouldn’t and that they shouldn’t also care about their looks I am just saying a fit body is also healthy, supple and dynamic and I wish society also listened and emphasize those parts for women as they do for men 🙂

    • diahannreyes says:

      Trish, I love that you have cultivated a self-referenced relationship with your body that allow you to make choices that empower you. I sometimes think as women (and perhaps for men, too) it can be hard to practice self-care from the inside out rather than the outside in, so brava to you 🙂 I too have started to work out for myself – it wasn’t necessarily about exercising more or less-but in my case it was bout shifting the focus on not self-objectifying and doing it for my health and because I love the way I look and feel when I am fit. Happy New Year to you, too!

  5. aqilaqamar says:

    Reblogged this on Iconography ♠ Incomplete.

  6. aqilaqamar says:

    Don’t mind me saying this Diahann but I didn’t think you were Spanish I thought you were East Asian XP But yes I am also learning to reclaim my body and your post has also inspired me to think of writing a post of my own about this. Yes, you are right — no matter if you are female in the West or the East whether you wear short-shorts, dresses, pants, blouses, nun’s garb hijab and jilbab, burkha or a mixture of many styles you are always aesthetically synthesized by a male gaze. Which is so infectious that even females start evaluating other females based on those qualities. You will notice that the so-called Mean girls only want attractive girls of a male gaze to be their cohorts but between a nerd and jock of traditionally biased definitions a friendship may seem more feasible and probably even encouraged and stimulated via various media especially that of superhero comics.

    Men do also face body image problems I admit this wholeheartedly but their bodies are always more dynamic than so many women. Think about skinny Captain America who is evaluated for his honesty, chivalry and his good conscience even before he becomes muscular and strong and think if this was a female Captain America and what would be stressed? I think this is more than a male gaze this is a patriarchal gaze that also hurts men. Men are pressurized to see any woman as a sexual object so much so that incest and also oedipal complex becomes irrefutably common due to such pressures and biased perceptions. Looking at women and men as partners and individuals fist even before a romantic correspondence is formulated in imagination may do more benefits to more people around. Fantastic article Diahann I wish you updated more or that we could talk more 🙂 I really like your writing.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you, so much for your kind words and support and for the depth that you add to the conversations here 🙂 I do hope you do a blog post on this topic because clearly you have a lot of wise, interesting things to say about this subject. Great points about how even when men are viewed physically in the media their other traits tend to be acknowledged and it doesn’t always go the other way. And how the conditioning that men are subject to can play a part in some of them committing sexual and other forms of violence. I really resonated with this too: ” a fit body is also healthy, supple and dynamic.”

      • aqilaqamar says:

        I do not know how wise and interesting I am but I am so moved that you said all these words. Yeah, I will write the topic if I can well get off my lazy ass and think on how well I can handle it XD But thank you Diahann really 🙂

  7. vnp1210 says:

    I always enjoy your introspection! Your words are important for many girls and women of any age.

  8. BroadBlogs says:

    “I no longer need other people to look at me first before I am able to see myself or know that I have value.”

    Love that.

    Sociologists talk about how our personal identities are socially constructed. When a lot of people tell us we are a certain way it feels more objective than when we subjectively think so ourselves. Yet other people’s perceptions can be skewed in one way or another, or hold an agenda, or be completely superficial, as you point out. It can be hard to find your way out of the morass, as I well know.

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful, well-crafted posts.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you, Georgia!

      “Yet other people’s perceptions can be skewed in one way or another, or hold an agenda, or be completely superficial” Makes me think so much about the importance of self-reference even when making choices about our lives- easy to think that some expert or authority figure might now better but that is not often the case.

      I’m very grateful for your presence here, your thoughts, and your generous support. I really do hope that one day we finally get to meet up in person!

  9. drshapero says:

    Beautiful article. Beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder. It is through the eyes of the one viewing our reflection in which we see the world. Shape the vision and you can change the world around you. Happy New Year. Looking forward to more of your articles.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you, Dr. Shapero. Happy New Year to you, too. And yes, as the saying goes, but perhaps with a different meaning” “The eyes have it– we get to choose how we see. I really appreciate your presence here.

  10. This was great! Thank you and Happy New Year 🙂 x

  11. Ralph says:

    I just love your honesty Diahann. That’s why I am following you 😀 xox ❤

  12. I love your blogs. Thanks for the inspiration:) Happy New Year!

  13. Aquileana says:

    The image we have of ourselves is a reflection of the glances of others.
    As Jean Paul Sartre once said: L’ enfer c’ est les autres”…
    A thought provoking reading, it is always great to stop by. Happy New Year to you.
    Aquileana 😀

  14. Diahann, once again you have expressed yourself clearly and passionately on a issue of great importance for so many in our society — men and women. It’s been a true pleasure reading you this past year and I can think of nothing I’d enjoy more than further expression and insightful from your heart and soul. God bless ya, gal!

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you, Dan! I appreciate you pointing out that men as well as women are impacted by this- the latter is starting to get discussed more and the former, regarding how men are affected, not as much but here’s hoping to change there, too. And wow, thank you for sharing my blog with your community today. 🙂 Made my morning. I’m very happy to have you here at SftB. God bless you, too!

  15. Audrey F says:

    I definitely gave away to others, also especially men, the power to deem me worthy/of value or not. I still struggle to truly see myself as I am and not as I was brought up to see myself (shameful and worthless). I so appreciate your “shining a light” on just how important it is for all of us, as women or as men, to see and validate our own worth, our own beauty. Thanks, Diahann, for the reminder and for the inspiration.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you, Audrey. I definitely have loved watching you blossom, even if just from afar and especially as a fan of your work. From witnessing you at Terrie’s table, you are fearless my friend at freeing yourself from any ties that bind and claiming your fierce fabulous self. Thank you also for the inspiration and for your support. xo

  16. Oh, Diahann, I sometimes wonder if you and I aren’t the same person. Well, in some form of my beliefs, I’m sure one of my gurus would say that is the truth. Maybe it’s because we spent a lot of growth in the 80s when ‘image’ was the key word. Image = worth, value, desirability = number of people who wanted to be you or with you. Sigh.
    In a way, social media and its uncovering of fame whoring to show what it really is, is a big blessing. It’s reduced fame’s power, and watered down its seduction pull. Maybe these new generations will grow in depth hereon. I can always keep my fingers crossed.

    You are so worthy of being seen by the loveliest of people; you offer meaningful gifts, and you continually grow with either side of a lesson. Your soul shines through your eyes and your words and your deeds. Yes, you are indeed a beauty.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Robyn, thank you so much. It’s interesting to me- after I let all of that go, it became easier to come out as who I really am and actually be seen by the people around me. Beautiful contradiction, this life, isn’t it?

      I do hope so too regarding these new generations- I’d hate to think we have the rest of our lives to contend with some of the reality shows that definitely seem to promote notoriety over substance.

      So glad to have you here, Robyn. Your presence and insights always add so much.

  17. katherinejlegry says:

    I only know you from your blog but you have a great effect. You’re one of the best people on the world wide internet Diahann. Inside and out beautiful. You don’t need my validation of course, but “fame” has nothing on you. I appreciate your perspectives and writing always. What a rare treasure you are. 🙂

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you, Katherine, truly. :)It is interesting that once I let all of that go, it became easier to reveal who I really was more to people.

      I am always happy to see you here and grateful for your shares, which are always generous and bravely honest. Wishing you a wonderful 2015!!!

  18. “My perception of self—especially my female body—was always a secondhand experience”

    There is a beautiful clarity to this summative piece that reflects truth even more wonderfully than the rest, Diahann. I love seeing (SEEING) your personal growth as you’ve chronicled it so honestly for us (and for yourself). You sound so grounded and it’s inspirational precisely for the struggle it’s been for you to get to your Ground Zero. It’s only UP from here, baby.

    *wink*

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you, Diana. You have literally been with me on this blog journey from day 1 and I couldn’t have been luckier to meet you at the get go. I definitely feel more grounded than ever so thank you for reflecting that back to me. It’s nice to know that is coming through. See you soon in your neck of the ‘hood. 🙂

  19. dbp49 says:

    What a lovely Declaration of Independence, and a very happy 2015 to you also.

  20. As always, what a great post, happy new year ! 🙂

  21. Malena says:

    Wonderful post, D!

  22. livelovelaughandletitgo says:

    Thank you for writing a beautiful post, I realized I am not alone. I’m only 17 but all those struggles you’ve faced and maybe still facing, I am also facing.

    “Every time I would look in the mirror, I would see what other people told me they saw”.

    I understand this, its the same thing that happens to me when I look in the mirror. I don’t think, not even once have I thought of myself as beautiful… I’ve only based my opinions and thoughts on what others have said about me because I thought that they were right. I know now that they weren’t, society and its influences, I no longer want to be a victim to that. I don’t want to live my life living up to their expectations. I’ve found it to be quite tiring. So thank you, thank you for helping me realize and for give me and others encouragement. I look forward to reading your blog.

    Arisa ~Live Love Laugh and Let it go~

  23. livelytwist says:

    Diahann, I’ve enjoyed travelling with you on your journey of discovery. This, especially, speaks to me: ” . . . I no longer need other people to look at me first before I am able to see myself or know that I have value,” because it is where I want to be. I have found that it can be like cha-cha, one step forward, two steps back! Everyday gets a little easier. I like what I see in the mirror 🙂

    You are beautiful!

    • diahannreyes says:

      Hi Timi, yes, Cha-cha for sure. And such a good reminder that the two steps back is just as much a part of it and so not to beat oneself up when that happens and to enjoy the process. I’m so very glad we are part of one another’s community and I love having your presence here. Here is to liking what we see in the mirror!

  24. Love “freeing ourselves from anyone else’s gaze” but our own. What a powerful daily (moment to moment, really!) practice! Thanks for reminding me that this is important for me too, Diahann. Happy New Year!

  25. Jean says:

    May I suggest: Perhaps bring the “voice” of you forward vs. your photo image: by removing the photo image of yourself from your widget/main page of blog. And replace with another favourite image of yours.

    Honest if you wish to have the world assess you less by your physique/physical image then offer it a lot less up front on the personal blog main page or sidebar. I realize professionally you need to do it may be for work purposes on your website, not a personal blog.

    There are photos of me but it’s not up front because readers must initially assess me on my voice, my thought processes, etc. Not how I look as an older woman.

    The photos of me buried in various posts and pages…without make-up, is the real me as anyone would see me.

    It must be a personal blog that my family and friends know that’s who I am. That’s my benchmark in terms of authenticity. I have to strip my own vanity, need for strangers (vs. loved ones who know me personal), to see who I look like up close.

    Sorry for this spiel..but your voice Diana is the most precious of all. It is formed by your…brain.
    (I just had a head injury from a bike crash with another cyclist a few days ago.and have been contemplating on brainpower, mental faculties…)

    • diahannreyes says:

      Hi Jean, I appreciate the suggestion and your thoughts on it. But I have to disagree with you at least in terms of why I will continue to have my photo up. For me, a huge part of taking my body back is how I relate to it from the inside out, which doesn’t necessarily mean purposely not making myself invisible so people won’t formulate opinions about me. That would again make how I relate to my body about how people see me – and God knows I’ve done enough hiding in this lifetime. Also, I do think of this blog as a professional site and not a personal one. I am a professional writer and an actor. I am not offering my photo up for people to “desire” me- i inhabit a human body and that is as sacred as who I am on the inside.

      I hope you are doing okay- a head injury sounds rough- and taking it easy and healing it nicely. Happy New Year!

      • Jean says:

        I see. No, I only meant the image of you where anyone doesn’t necessarily desire you, but some people can easily form subconscious preconceptions that are wrong. No matter what a person writes or says. But then it’s tougher to be in a work industry where personal visage ie. acting and modelling, it important as much as acting competence ..unless one is lucky to land acting roles that clearly de-emphasizes how a person “looks” on screen or before a paying audience/corporate sponsor. Doesn’t get easier as women ages..

        It’s not a problem I have to wrestle with career wise (thank goodness) since I’m in information management.

        May be you have written about such problems in your industry?

        Thx for the good vibes re my injury. It will take time for me to be fully functional at work. My job demands intensive business process analysis, writing, employee training etc. which uses my head. Right now I have to rest my brain to recover..after just a few at home personal emails/comments this morning.

        Value your brainpower ..and may your personal voice and actions be louder and supsersede anything else, going forward over the years. Keep blogging!

        • diahannreyes says:

          I’m glad to hear you are resting up. A couple of friends of mine ended up in situations where they sustained brain injuries and it seemed like Continuum somatic work really helped one of them a lot.

          I haven’t yet written about body image problems in the industry here but it has been a frustration- not just as a woman but as a Southeast Asian American who happens to looks Hispanic and has been often cast first based on my type. Unfortunately, at least when I was starting, that is part of the job. Thankfully nowadays there is more freedom to write your own parts. And yes, with aging as a woman in Hollywood- there are challenges there too.

          And thank you for the good wishes regarding voice and blogging- my voice is something that I’ve just started to use in front of people and so I look forward to it growing in strength and clarity and hopefully bravery, with practice.

  26. oh my goodness! Where to begin! Can I just say that somehow I think you and I live parallel lives but I’m ten years ahead of you. Wow. And now that I’ve finally learned what you just posted about regarding my physical looks – – I seemed to have transferred all of the above sentiments to my writing. I want my writing to become famous or editors and publishers to validate it and tell me it has value. Do we EVER stop this stuff? Sheesh! It’s exhausting, depleting and a downward spiral. You can never feel good when you put your opinion of yourself onto someone else. Thank you for always putting into such eloquent words what I go around living, breathing and thinking! Big New Year’s hugs to you.
    Stephanie

    • diahannreyes says:

      Stephanie!! I hear you about the writing– I definitely had that with acting. And I sure hope we do stop 😉 while not beating ourselves up when we don’t. Hope 2015 is treating you well.

  27. Faith Simone says:

    “That it is because I no longer need other people to look at me first before I am able to see myself or know that I have value.” I love this! This is a lesson that I’m still studying, but I know that I’m steadily making progress. It’s important to constantly affirm yourself, especially for women that will never fit the overall standard of beauty pushed constantly by the culture here in the U.S. I’ll never be blond haired, blue eyed or thin. Knowing this taught me at a young age that comparing myself to others is futile. I learned early on to validate myself.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you, Faith! I agree that this process is an ongoing journey and a challenge for sure.But like you said, steady progress. That’s how I assess my relationship with it these days, too. I love that you knew early on to look to the most important person for validation of your worth- you. I can’t wait for the day when that is first/second nature for more girls.

  28. First, thank you for accepting me as his follower, this intereçanticimo your blog, according loved this your posting that is very true, be beautiful is to feel beautiful when a woman (in particular) feel beautiful the body manifested in sensuality, beauty and desire, while the woman feels itself beautiful look of the other perceives ecencia of this femininity certainly are a beautiful woman.
    Have a Happy and accomplishful 2015.

  29. reocochran says:

    I have been in the past, very focused on external appearances. My oldest daughter brought me out of this, after she left for art college and came home crying since her Dad had told her she could not eat at his table with her pink strands of hair, while she wore a lovely black velvet dress with pink flowers on it. Didn’t he see her, truly, underneath her hair dye, that she was still his baby girl?
    I have been married three times, one thing that resonated from your post was how you evolved, realizing not to worry or concentrate on how you looked and what others ‘thought.’ I was similar, trying to ‘fit in’ with my exes, accommodating their interests and trying to learn football, computers, military, etc. subjects I was not actually interested in! It may be overused as a resource, but I really liked the book, “Eat, Pray, Love.” The movie was fairly well done, but the book really explained how the character (the author) tried to ‘adapt’ to each man in her life, instead of being part of their lives and they learning what interested Me! Thanks for this fine piece of writing, such a great self-examination which reveals how wonderful inside you are!

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you! I am a fan of Liz’s book for sure. She seemed to speak a lot of what so many of us were thinking.

      The experience with your daughter sounds so potent… the visual of you waking up from the spell while watching her experience… mama bear/courage incarnate… I imagine that shift in you must be reverberating for her in the best way possible, too.

  30. Rajagopal says:

    Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the handsomest of them all… It is most certainly you, Diahann, for dwelling on a topic so perceptively and insightfully through this great post of yours. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, and beauty is skin deep. Thus the social constructs of beauty, inasmuch as it touches upon the externalities that wane with age, only have a limited value that lowers further on the realization that all forms are an illusion created by our senses. Hence what eventually matters is realization of your faculties, your inner self, and the eternal beauty emanating therefrom…wishing you a rewarding year ahead diahann…you have started well… Best wishes…Raj.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you, Raj.. and for so beautifully articulating your perspective. This especially struck me: “the social constructs of beauty, inasmuch as it touches upon the externalities that wane with age, only have a limited value that lowers further on the realization that all forms are an illusion created by our senses.” Illusions indeed. Best wishes to you, too.

  31. Jenn Berney says:

    Your story from age 13 is so moving. When I was that age, I sought mirrors all the time; I was constantly trying to assess how I looked an hoping I might suddenly turn beautiful. I love that as I get older, I feel less obligated to look good all the time. I still obsess over certain things more than I like to, but like you it’s become a smaller part of my self-worth equation.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you, Jenn. It really is fascinating- women’s especially relationship to the mirror- and how it literally is a matter of perspective. I feel the same way about the sense of obligation for sure- which, sometimes, leaves me feeling, I noticed, “unarmored.” Hope you are having great start to 2015!

  32. alohaleya says:

    Thank you so much for sharing these words, Diahann. I can relate to sooo much of it and I am inspired by your journey – and plan to follow in your footsteps hehe! I’m very thankful that blogging has given me the platform to share my insights, but I know there is much more I could say – speaking my truth – especially regarding the divine feminine. Your piece reminds me of this, and I look forward to reading (and sharing) more. Much love! Aleya

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you, Aleya. The more the more potently merrier, I know that for sure. I love your writing and what share on your blog. I really look forward to you saying more about the sacred She!

  33. Jay says:

    There is so much that gets in the way of this discovery and it’s sad that at best we come to it with age and wisdom, but not while it would do us the most good. And it’s not just beauty, we’re always looking to others to validate us, but a woman who doesn’t need validation is going to have a lot of power. So thanks for reminding us all what’s important, and hopefully we can all find a young woman who needs to hear words like these.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Hi Jay, I definitely wish I had the awarenesses I do now when I was younger. I hope that is possible for the next generations of girls. I love this:
      “a woman who doesn’t need validation is going to have a lot of power” – I imagine a woman holding her power rather than giving it away to others in exchange for that validation. Btw- your blog and its theme sounds very interesting. I’m a movie fan 🙂

      • Jay says:

        Great!
        I’m a fan of any sort of art that makes me think and makes me want to contribute to the conversation. Sometimes movies can actually be that kind of art. And sometimes you find it on a blog such as this 😉

  34. SirenaTales says:

    Diahann, I am so pleased and grateful to have come back and reread this thoughtful, articulate post as I am exploring both personally and artistically this notion of developing one’s own voice. While I’ve pondered your insightful observations about “the gaze” of others on the body, I realize how perfectly this translates to outside feedback for our voices, to what is deemed attractive, appealing, “feminine” in how and what we “speak”–whether in our language or our movement or our behavior. I am probably late to the party (again:)) with my epiphany, but I am layering your wisdom onto my experience and finding it quite illuminating. Thank you, as always. xxo

    • diahannreyes says:

      Chloe, I love how you identify the parallels above- about how “the gaze” impacts so much about how we embody ourselves in the world. I hadn’t thought about how the gaze influences the voice too- I’ve been aware of what culture thinks of as, you said, the more “feminine” voice, as opposed to others but not necessarily the influence of the gaze. Thanks for coming back to this post and articulating these layers here! xox I am a big believer of naming as liberation for one and for all.

  35. Arisa says:

    Reblogged this on Arisa's Blog and commented:
    Read this a couple weeks ago, very amazing post 🙂 . It made me realize I am not alone. I’m only 17 but all those struggles Mrs. Diahann talks about, I have and still am facing.

    “Every time I would look in the mirror, I would see what other people told me they saw”.

    I understand this, its the same thing that happens to me when I look in the mirror. I don’t think, not even once have I thought of myself as beautiful… I’ve only based my opinions and thoughts on what others have said about me because I thought that they were right. I know now that they weren’t, society and its influences, I no longer want to be a victim to that. I don’t want to live my life living up to their expectations. I’ve found it to be quite tiring. So thank you, thank you for helping me realize and for give me and others encouragement. I look forward to reading your blog.

    Arisa ~Live Love Laugh and Let it go~

  36. Woman! I am brown lol. Different peoples’ ideas of beauty are very interesting. I also find interesting that you are seeing yourself this way at a later age. I am 24 and I am also in this process. I guess exploring identity happens at any age and at every age. Thank you for this.


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