Shannon Lell | The New Ideal: On Being Different in Today’s World
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The New Ideal: On Being Different in Today’s World

The New Ideal: On Being Different in Today’s World

This is a famous painting from 1638 by Peter Paul Rubins called The Three Graces. These women depict the Goddess daughters of Zeus, and by 17th century standards, they are exquisitely beautiful.

The first time I laid eyes on a “Rubinesque” woman I couldn’t stop playing the ‘what if’ game. What if I lived in a time when frizzy hair, hamstring cellulite and a big ass were ideal? What if famous painters were knocking down the drawbridge to my castle (because I would totes live in a castle) for the privilege to paint my perfect, bodacious curves onto canvas. What if there was a poor, thin peasant women who cherished every inch (and tried hard to keep) her postpartum body because it was the only time she thought she was truly beautiful? This scenarios is the exact opposite of what I happen to be doing now.

What if that ideal body type never changed and instead of today’s rail-thin models there were the likes of these women, scantily clad in lace and diamond-studded bras sashaying down the catwalk with their plump, washed-out thighs giggling and rubbing together? When one of these full-figured gals reached the end of the runway they would turn to the camera with a recalcitrant, arrogant, droopy-eyed look and whip their fro around while smacking their ass with an audible THWAP? The subsequent butt giggle would prompt an uproarious applause and teenage boys everywhere would replay that shit on YouTube in slow mo.

Seriously. What if our preferences for body type never change from 17th century standards?

At any given moment in history there are a set of popular “ideals.” The lucky individuals possessing those current ideals are deemed most worthy. Today, it’s the man with the Rolex, hot carand hotter wife. It’s the woman with the perfectly spray-tanned, yoga-body and Chanel sunglasses. It’s Jennifer Anniston, Kobe Bryant, the tall, blonde girl with the smooth skin and blue eyes, the Ivy League-er. These are the ones in our society, in our time, who have been anointed with the crown of worthiness.

The rest of us are just left to playing the ‘what if’ game.

But what if suddenly it was all different? What if, instead of perpetuating an ideal anything, we realized that every last one of us is the ideal everything. Sounds like some futuristic utopia right?

What if we realized that whether it be the 17th century or the 27th, people are all the same and worthy just the way they were born and by holding up some ideal on a pedestal is only perpetuating our illusion of separateness? Of someone being better than, or worse, more worthy of?

Because with your highest, most conscious, scientific mind wouldn’t you agree that in the end we are all the same? We all decompose into the same organic parts from whence we came. We all get virus’ and canker soars and breathe oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. So why not realize that NOW while we’re sharing the same planet at the same moment in time?  That we are all deserving of the same love, kindness, adoration and respect?

Even if we happen to be gay.

Just because it’s 2012 and being gay isn’t the ideal standard it shouldn’t mean that one should be made to feel less worthy of the equality most of us take for granted.

I the new ideal should be to stop creating ideals. And even if some people insist on having them, the rest of us should stop perpetuating them with our own feelings of inadequacy.

It’s time to start accepting one another as is… to live and let live… to be and let be… and to realize that times change, and as sad as it makes me that pouchy tummies went out of favor 400 years ago, it’s okay, I’m okay. It seems to me that the 21st century is as good a time as any to perpetuate the only true ideal which is Love. Simply, L.O.V.E.

But for the record, I would have totes been the Beyonce of the 17th century. Just sayin’.

And also, these women kinda look like lesbians, which was probably totes no big deal back then, too. Just sayin’.

“The love that you withhold is the pain you carry lifetime after lifetime.” ~Alex Collier

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