So I, this summer, in response to trying to figure out how life may or may not change as I enter the decade where my life will likely be half lived (chronological time wise, that is); am wading hip deep into the realm of “hormones and hormone balancing”. What spurred this had a lot to do with the fact I spent five years of my 10 years as a thirtysomething breastfeeding children, and when I stopped with my daughter a little under two years ago I have honestly not felt “right” or balanced in my body since. So I decided to do a little research on this subject of women’s hormones and try to discern what is fact vs. fiction vs. educated opinion vs. completely talking out of your ass.
Here is what I have discovered: fuck absolutely everybody.
Yeah, seriously, all of you who CONTINUE to commodify women in one way or another and sell me, my body, and my goddamn hormones for your financial gain can ALL go take a long walk off a short pier. I. Am. Done. With. You.
So in my little yoga world I run into a lot of people online who discuss capitalism, commodification, and the selling of absolutely everything yoga related. But why, I wonder, am I in such gob smacked awe at how even my hormones can be sold on the market as a money making product. I really shouldn’t be, I know. Women’s body hair or lack of in all places is sold, all originating over 100 years ago from sex workers in France trying to look younger to appeal to the pedophilia set. Women’s skin, clothes, attitudes, facial expressions (resting bitch face much?), nails, emotions, ideas, expressions, empowerment, lunar cycles, friendships, bonding, I mean *everything* is sold. So why would hormones be any different?
As I started to try to find some texts on this topic, the amount of books that are published that directly link to an online group that supports and online program that supports a diet plan that supports a company is ENDLESS. The difficulty in finding information that is unbiased, not merely speculative opinion, and well researched seems to be to be scarce. I am now on my fifth book on the subject and even finding one that is written by someone I respect and also is not trying to sell me something is a hard journey. I no longer trust the title “doctor” when reading these books/studies/opinions. It seems everybody has found some doctor out there who is willing to endorse their no sugar, caffeine, meat, gluten, salt, carbs, dairy, some plants, some fruits, air, water, sunlight diet. I am, of course, joking there. But I have yet to really believe that cutting out everything for the rest of my natural life seems like a reasonable solution. I am sure there are many women out there who feel like they feel better on their diet of no <insert your thing here>, and that is truly great. I am just in search of someone who has a balanced perspective. Instead of telling me what I have to take away, how about what can enhance? How about what can nourish? How about something I can feed myself not 1000 things I can’t.
I honestly thought this whole commodification of my entire woman self would end around now. There is much less pressure to fit a certain aesthetic, or beauty ideal for us ladies entering the middle of life than there is for us when we are younger. I was ready to put down the cross of being sold for the profit of others and let the outrage torch be carried by younger women. But I am, apparently wrong. It seems to me now that I will be commodified well into my menopause years, just for different reasons. It starts with beauty ideals, but continues through mating (weddings), childbearing, perimenopause (hormone time), to menopause. I am, according to capitalism, worth quite a lot. I just wish I would start seeing some of the dividends on my unwitting investment of my entire body. Maybe that would make me feel a little better about it.
This also set me on a look around my world, both IRL and virtual, for other things we sell from women. Damn, do we sell women’s empowerment like it is going out of style. This empowerment thing is commodified to such a degree that not only are there women in your area doing it right now, but there are women who make their livings doing this nationwide. These are big names, “thought leaders” even, who make their living selling women…well, womanhood. What the hell ladies? Could you all stop that right now please?
That is the real thing that burns me, see. We are absolutely doing this to ourselves. We are letting our sisters sell us to ourselves, we are letting our educated medical mothers, sisters, and daughters sell us their version of health and wellness and fountains of youth and confidence and competency. This just needs to cease immediately. If not sooner.
Why, maybe you are asking? Firstly, because our sold fountains of youth, confidence, wellness, and competency are not in any way lifting all of us ladies up. That, in and of itself, is absolutely shitty. For example: suppose you went to a “support your inner yoni goddess deva Shakti princess” afternoon. Or perhaps attended a creative women in business weekend. The women on those retreats are likely incredibly privileged. These are not donation based events, they are sometimes upwards of a $500 event with little chance of financial aid or scholarships; even if you do had the wherewithal to swallow your pride to ask for financial assistance.
A more practical example that just happened to me today: one thing that I now purchase to help get my digestion more regulated and feel less bloated is a good quality probiotic. I am picky on my brands and do a lot of research and the one I use costs $38 before sales tax for a month of capsules. Add on a high quality multi-vitamin (which I am not yet sold on at all, but I am trying out to see if it makes a difference) and that is about $60 a women can spend per month on these supplements. Over a year that is $720 plus tax, which for me could cover a mortgage payment. There is no way this alone isn’t privilege in action. The truth is buying back your womanhood costs us a lot.
I am going to end by adding a couple things that I think we all can do to improve our situation as women, so we are not adding to or contributing to the selling of ourselves.
First, stop buying the sales pitch. It is all a selling game and if we just start by identifying when we are selling ourselves and other women that would be a huge win for us. It is like the changing of movement patterns we talk about in yoga; knowing the pattern and seeing the sales pitch is more than half-way to not participating.
Second, stop allowing yourself to be sold. You can choose a different drink/vitamin/supplement/makeup brand/whatever. With honestly minimal effort and the internet you can find companies that are more in line with what your personal values and beliefs about women.
Third, stop selling women. If you happen to have a company or business or material that commodifies women and their experiences stop selling it. Find a different outlet, there are many, and make your money that way. If you feel like you have a product you want to sell, like a weekend event, make the fee sliding scale or donation based. Your time is worth it, of course, but do you really want to be the women who chooses only to empower the elite few and not the worthy many?
Finally, if you are curious about the one thing I have figured out that has helped me personally reset and recharge, I will tell you. Relax. Like, lazybones kids on a summer day looking at clouds relax. Lay on the couch, gaze off into space, if you are a yogi maybe do some nidra. And in those few moments of relaxation allow yourself to really let go of all the obligations and events and “should be doing”s and “I am not enough”s. Let it all go. You don’t have to solve world peace in the five minutes, you don’t have to read or write or plan. Just stare off in to the great beyond and just exist. In those moments of seemingly nothing remember my sisters, you are already perfect. No exceptions, and no sales pitch required.