Monday, June 21, 2010

Beyond Diva

I've shared that I've been thinking a lot about beauty and reading a book called Adventure Divas: Searching the Globe for Women Who Are Changing the World.  I also mentioned that I hated the title of the book but felt that the content was worth consideration and discussion. 

First of all, I hate the word diva and the limiting and negative tone it carries.  The word originates with the divine, think goddesses, and is most often used in reference to a vanity, lack of discipline, lack of cooperation, glamour and success at any cost.  Now, if you've read much mythology, the gods and goddesses tend to be pretty questionable characters.  Especially, the goddesses.  They are most often depicted as shallow, self absorbed, careless and cruel.  Very rarely are the goddesses portrayed as women of character in a way that would make anyone admire them for anything beyond beauty and immortality.  Sure, in literature they have some pretty serious impact on the way the world works but the impact usually stems from selfish pursuits and is rarely positive in result. 

With my strong feelings about the word diva, it's pretty amazing that I was willing to venture into this book at all.  I decided to give it a shot by believing that the author/creator of Adventure Divas was looking for a good marketing title and this is what sounded snappy.  I was also interested in how the author was going to find divas that were interested in changing the world.  Again, my bias against divas had them changing clothes, hair and their own minds, not changing in the world.

As I read the book, I came to believe even more strongly that the word diva was misplaced.  So many of the women represented in the page are strong, focused, fearless and compassionate.  To belittle their contributions and spirits by referring to them as divas makes no sense to me at all.  Since I've been thinking so much about beauty and virtue lately it wasn't a far reach for me to connect my feelings about beauty and virtue with my concern about the term diva.

As women, why aren't we powerful enough to stand up and say, "I am a woman." and let that be enough.  Why do we create labels for ourselves or allow others to label us in ways that negate part of who we are or misrepresent our nature?  There aren't enough labels in the world to cover all that a woman is.  Daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, mother, friend, lover, wife, teacher, boss, student....I could be that this all day.  We certainly don't need to take time to tack on negative labels or labels that are less than accurate.

So I reject the term diva and the idea that in order to change the world you have to be a special (not very nice) kind of woman.  I think this book, despite it's name and it's constant reference to that word (divalicious, really?!!!), supports my hypothesis.  The only thing that women need to be remarkable is an outward focus and a sense of passion.  I believe that women have an ability to see a need and fill it.  They have the empathy and perseverance to see a situation, feel what it must be like, determine to make it different and work relentlessly until it changes.  I also believe that millions of women are doing this each and every day on a scale that will never be in a book or part of a t.v. series. 

I also think that this book supported my belief that women very rarely are willing to admit their true majesty.  It may be that most women don't recognize it within themselves.  It may go back to the idea of modesty as a virtue.  It may be that women don't understand what is truly powerful.  Many women, perhaps even most women, believe that they just do what must be done.  What else is there?  Most of the very impressive women in this book hadn't chosen to seek recognition or prestige.  They'd simply done what needed to be done within their sphere of influence for the good of the people that mattered the most to them.  That is indeed following your passion.

I think the best thing about Adventure Divas is that it has sensitized me to the impact that doing what needs to be done each and every day can have on the world.  Even if my efforts aren't recognized in a book, getting up every day to educate my family, thinking, learning, praying and sharing, speaking about what's important to me, growing and stretching myself in new ways, paying attention to others, responding to the world with openness, fearlessness, compassion and intention, keeping an eye out for the passion in life,  these are the things that I do that change the world. 

How are you changing the world?

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