We Are All Like Diamonds

Heirloom ring, diamond & white gold.

Heirloom ring, diamond & white gold. Canon Rebel XS. Taken 1/19/2014. (Also appears on my Flickr account.)

Yesterday, something occurred to me. I promptly shared it to Facebook and Twitter, but I’ve been thinking about it since, expanding upon it.

We are all like diamonds: Some of us are polished, some in the rough, all shaped by our upbringings and experiences, multifaceted, and beautiful and valuable despite our imperfections.

I know. Depending on where you are, that can fly directly in the face of dominant cultural narratives. The dominant narratives where I’m from, in the United States, frequently revolve around one’s worth being measured by things like socioeconomic status, ethnic/racial background, nation of origin, gender/gender expression, marital status, sexual orientation, age, and appearance. (Appearance as a measure of worth is not limited to just us ladies. A lot of media directed at men has adopted a standard the majority can’t achieve.)

The thing is, these narratives were sold to us (via various forms of media, advertising, and cultural and political discourse), but we don’t have to buy into them.

We do not have to believe that a person’s worth as a human being is determined by their employment status or how much money they have in their bank account. Sometimes intelligence, education, and ambition have nothing to do with it, no matter where that person falls on the socioeconomic spectrum. We do not know everyone’s story, or their circumstances. We have not had to live their lives.

We do not have to believe that the color of a person’s skin or where they were born or their ethnic identity defines the content of their character.

We do not have to objectify, rape, or abuse women, or value their contributions to work and society less than those of men.

We do not have to deny equality to or threaten the livelihood or safety of members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

We do not have to believe that once someone reaches a certain age they are automatically impaired in performing certain tasks, or that they and their knowledge, experience, and wisdom are without value.

We do not have to believe that there’s something wrong with people who are not married, even if they don’t ever want to get married.

We do not have to believe that a person’s appearance determines how worthy they are of love or respect, or even employment.

There are lots of things we do not have to believe. The point is, we have a choice about what to believe about who we are as individuals, who we are collectively, and what we should value. We can choose to let go of the popular labels and measures of worth.

Here is what I believe, in my heart of hearts (even when I get frustrated with or irritated or hurt by people and, in the heat of the moment, don’t always perfectly embody it):

We are all here, alive, souls inside human bodies, expressed mixtures of our inner darkness and light, each with our own passions and dreams, hopes and fears, strengths and weaknesses, failures and successes, wisdom and opportunities for learning and growth, all deserving of kindness, love, respect, and grace.

We are all multifaceted.

We are all beautiful and valuable.

We all matter.

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How to Be A Woman

Self-Portrait. Taken 10/5/2012. Canon Rebel XS.

Self-Portrait. Taken 10/5/2012. Canon Rebel XS.

Be confident, appear competent,
but don’t be cocky or bossy or bitchy.

Be compassionate and nurturing, but
never be angry, tired, anxious, or depressed.

Be smart, but not too smart, or
men won’t like you (it’s important that they like you).

Be different, so you stand out, but not too different,
lest you be labelled “crazy” or seen as a threat.

Be sexy, but not too sexy, and have sex,
but not too much and not with the wrong people.

Be fashionable, but remember that what you wear
and how you look is an instruction manual for how to treat you.

Be fit, be happy, be healthy, eat right, get enough sleep,
but never forget that your body is not merely your own.

Be all things to all people: wife, mother, dutiful daughter,
nurse, breadwinner, confessor, forgiver, fuck toy, personal assistant.

Be the one who circumvents, then reinvents all the rules and
false dichotomies. Be the one who dares the rest to try.


Author’s Note: I feel like I should say that I did not write this directed at men, so much as I wrote it to be directed at prevailing culture. There are very good men who are just as peeved about these things as we women are, and culture holds them to false dichotomies and stupid, arbitrary rules as well. Both groups suffer under rigid gender binaries. Maybe I’ll write a sequel called “How to Be A Man,” exploring that.