The Endangered Species Women summit took place in New York City last Friday, March 18th and Saturday, March 19th. As the event’s scribe/notetaker and a young female activist and thinker, I feel compelled to write about every single one of my observations. Lord knows that would take quite a while, especially all in one post, so I’ll be continuously writing about different subject matters pertaining to Endangered Species.
One specific issue that I’d like to address is the matter of effective activism—how do we create social change in an environment proven to be difficult? Or, the greater question relating to all-things human, does the end justify the means? In answer to this age long quandary, the journey is just as important as the destination. More specifically: activists in the positive body image movement need to keep in mind that the way we go about social change is just as critical as our final resolution.
If you don’t agree with me, maybe Gloria Steinem can change your mind. She recently addressed this issue in an article up at Marlothomas.aol.com:
“Marx was smart about a lot of things, but not about his embrace of ’the end justifies the means.’ Actually, the means dictate the ends. We won’t have laughter and kindness and poetry and pleasure at the end of any revolution unless we have laughter and kindness and poetry and pleasure along the way.”
If we’re going to accomplish anything within the movement of positive body image in the public eye, our interactions with each other are the utmost important tool in this process. Some people might be uncomfortable addressing individuals in power who they harbor anger towards, but some of that anger needs to be let go and transformed into ambition in order to ultimately achieve our goal.
Women on all ends of the spectrum need to come together and form a solution instead of placing blame on the few faces involved in the mainstream. In an ideal world, the radical and mainstream champions for positive body image will come together to create a safe space for continued dialog.
One of the most important messages that came from the conference is the fact that there needs to be much more positive language around the idea of feminine body image. This positive language should start within the conversations we have with each other, especially those we are unhappy with. I’m not encouraging phony communication or compromising our important values, I’m simply urging women to keep an open mind and regard others with the same kindness and compassion you wish to receive. You get a lot more with sugar than with vinegar, and afterall, we’re aiming towards a sweet end to this fight.