Monday, February 1, 2010

Quaker Women's Retreat this weekend

I had a great time attending the Quaker Women's Retreat at Skycroft Retreat Center in Middleburg, MD this past weekend.  It's about the 10th retreat I've been to.  They're always wonderful.  140 very cool women - authentic, empowered, engaged in full lives, for the most part following their passion and leading, working for the good of the world.  It's fantastic spending time with such a group of people.  I consistently come away from the weekends feeling energized, affirmed, fascinated, and having met wonderful people.

This year I especially enjoyed having the opportunity to give a workshop on Women's Body Image.  I spent many hours preparing for it, trying to figure out exactly what my focus would be, how I'd present it, etc. 

What I ended up doing was showing a lot of pictures and asking questions with them.  We had some great discussions.  Over the next few days, I'll present my talk here in abbreviated form along with the pictures and questions.  I would love to get some conversation going between any of you readers who feel moved to respond.  I think this is a vitally important issue, and I'd love your input.

So here's the first question: 

What do you think makes a woman beautiful??


  1. I think that Hugh Hefner, as just one symbolic figurehead of many, clearly damaged women AND men's appreciation for real women's bodies. This is very, very obvious, but I thought I'd pipe up with the politically-incorrect, culturally-stereotyped view of what makes a woman beautiful, that was TAUGHT to me and deeply inserted into my sexual conditioning, starting at around age 12 or earlier, by Hef, Madison Avenue, billboards, film and TV: what makes a woman beautiful is being under 30, slim, smooth-skinned, wrinkle-free, fat-free, cellulite-free, with long hair, preferably blonde, and a look in the eye that says "You know you want me." That is what many or even most men are up against in our heads when we begin to encounter the world of very real, and very beautiful women who are outside that image. LIke I said, obvious; that's why you're doing what you're doing in the first place, right?

  2. Thanks for your comment, Eliezer. You stated exactly what the women at the retreat came up with as the answer to the question, "What does Madison Avenue want us to believe a beautiful woman looks like?" It's surprising, then again NOT surprising, that we both came up with just the same list - shows how incredibly ingrained it is in our society. SAD.

  3. To me, a woman is beautiful when she shows a smile that says "I'm happy being who I am and I am interested in who you are."