I had a near traumatic experience today in the lingerie department at Macy's. Shopping for bras is not easy for me, nor is it for most women. I wear an odd size, and do not get much sympathy from other women about my....curves. I am not skinny. I am not fat. I am full of curves, some welcome, some not.
I found myself curious at the fact that I was nearing tears at one point during the process, until the sales woman came to the rescue. She had found two bras in my size (yes, only two out of the racks and racks of bras in the department), and had also come up with an additional product to help with a certain issue.
Afterward, as I was driving to get my hair cut, I thought of Sarah Palin and her recent public stand against a joke by David Letterman this week. I actually agree with Governor Palin in terms of not finding funny much of the casual debasement of women in our society. In our culture, it's "funny" to make jokes about her daughter's teen pregnancy, while we also spend billions of dollars sexualizing women and over $1.5 billion on ineffective abstinence only education for teens.
While it may be ironic or even amusing to some that Bristol Palin is a national spokesperson for abstinence, there is nothing funny about teen pregnancy. Our lack of funding and willingness to look at effective programs to prevent teen pregnancy has helped cost 750,000 teens a year their innocence and changed their lives forever. One thing that does concern me about Ms. Palin's abstinence spokesperson association is that the Candies Foundation, for which she is an Ambassador, focuses on abstinence for teen girls. Last time I checked, it took a male and female to create a pregnancy. In yet another subtle way, our society is enabling sexism to continue.
In her book, Abortion Rap, the late attorney and activist, Florynce Kennedy, wrote the now famous statement, "if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament." There are days when I really contemplate that statement, especially in light of current politics on the subject. There remains a piece of this argument that is mired in sexism, even though it appears on the surface to be a religious issue. When people tell me they are Christian, and that is why they don't believe in abortion, I discern whether or not that is the moment to let them know I am Christian, and pro-choice. Not pro-abortion, pro-choice. I believe that women are able and entitled to make that decision for themselves. When we remove the choice, we are treating them as "less than" citizens.
And that's why I was almost near tears today for a short moment before I grabbed my brain by its wits and got a grip. I do not look like any of the women on the tags or advertisements for bras. Or underwear. Or shirts or shoes for that matter. They are all thin, smiling, air-brushed models, put there to make men salivate and women feel inferior. And yet, we come in all shapes and sizes, all of us children of God. There's a line I love from the movie, Saved, where the lead female character says, "If God wanted us all to be the same, why did he make us all so different?"
Indeed, we are different. We are men, we are women, we are trans. We are straight, we are gay, we are bi. We have bodies that are male, female, in between. We are obese, we are anorexic, we are bulimic. We are. And God adores us each, no matter what bra size we wear.