7 Dimensions of Wellness

7 Dimensions of Wellness
7 Dimensions of Wellness

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New eyes behind old glasses

From the Austrialian "Racism makes me sick" Campaign

We've been doing a lot of education around stereotypes in our house these days. My 11 year old busted out with a tired impression of what he thought an Italian person to sound like when he held his fingers up and said "Fuhgett about it". Hub said, "What was that?". 11 year old said, "that's how Italian people talk". "Really?", I asked him. "So, how many times have you ever heard Toni say that". Toni is my girlfriend of over 20 years, amazing artist, woman, friend and proud of her Italian heritage. "Toni is Italian?", 11 year old asked. "Yep", I said, reminding 11 year old that when Toni finds out about that he will get cut and that's not a stereotype, that's just how mom and her girlfriends roll.
If you're close enough to me to be in my life and know my son, you can cut him as a member of my village to help him grow into a decent man. 11 year old took a step back and that has been the catalyst of a lot of our discussions lately about where stereotypes come from, how they get here, and why it's important to blow them up. Good ones (Asians are smart, Gays are creative, etc.) as well as bad ones.

It's easy to size people up on what you think you know about them or people like them. It's also easy to put folks in a box based on how they look. We all do it. Even the most progressive and conscious among us. Hell, I do it - as much as I try not to. Last Wednesday I headed to aerobics class and our regular teacher was out. There was a woman in the front of the room dressed in high end workout gear, hair put back in a neat ready to sweat bun and she was stretching. I knew she was our interim leader - until a tattooed, head-scarf wearing, light-skinned Nell Carter look a like walked in with tights and a flashdance off the shoulder tee came in. "Y'all ready to sweat", she yelled, "I'm filling in for Miss T". Done. I've seen Nell in class before but never paid attention to her because I'm usually up front near the instructor so I can watch her feet and hear, on account of the fact that I'm getting old and hearing and seeing is key while I'm getting my work out on.

Work was tough that day, I was tired and so when I saw Nell, I thought ok here's an easy hour. Honey, when Miss Thing turned that cd on and we started warming up to Soulja Boy, I knew all of my assumptions were out the window. Nell was loud and fast and limber and loves hip hop, because we slapped our booties during a step routine to Flow Rider's "Low", kicked out a trifling boo during an aerobic dance to Beyonce's "Irreplaceable" and slowed it down during yoga cool down to who else Luther? It was an awesome workout, and I am ashamed to admit that I wrote the instructor off before the benefit of one second of her skills, solely due to how she looked.

It got me thinking about what is the picture of wellness? There is no guarantee that the food in the hemp tote with the Whole Foods logo is any healthier than the purchases in the plastic Walmart bag. Someone's $1,000 drum circle retreat may work just as good as an in-home dance party to Shalamar. No judging, just do.

Living a life of wellness and health is going to look different based on who we are, where we live, what we know and what we are willing to do. This spring I'm going to work on busting up all that I think I know and look at things with new eyes. New eyes behind old glasses.

Lisa Coffman
Lisa is a long time supporter of CWUW, a mother, wife, and HUMAN.

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