Feeding the Wolf
There’s a fable from the indigenous culture about an old man’s advice to his grandson, regarding choice and intention. It warns there are two wolves living inside us, one is despair the other is hope and we can choose which wolf thrives by choosing which one we feed.
I feel we are facing that choice right now in how we see ourselves in our years beyond youth and how we impact how others see us. And I’m quite frustrated by the media frenzy around Martha Stewart’s photo on Sports Illustrated.
Don’t get me wrong, featuring a mature model on the cover of a magazine is a step in the right direction, but I question if this is the best one to celebrate.
SI is not featuring women for their athletic ability. Let’s just start there. Of the 716 issues in the past 11 years, there have only been 35 female athletes featured on the cover, of which only 18 featured a female as the primary or sole image.
The current situation is even more complex in that it calls into play the controversy of photo shopped and cosmetic enhancements, manipulating the image into something other than an honest representation of the beauty of a mature face and body.
It also completely disregards and discounts intellectual, professional and personal accomplishments as the reason for selection.
All of which gets my ire up. But, this morning, it’s fueled by the absence of fanfare and acknowledgement for US astronaut, Peggy Witson. Witson, a 63 year old woman who is currently heading to the International Space Station, again.
Whitson, a biochemistry researcher and retired NASA astronaut, has already spent a cumulative 665 days in space over her career, giving her the NASA record.
She was also the first female commander of the International Space Station, and has spent more time spacewalking than any other woman. Among her accolades on her NASA profile, Whitson also places eighth on the all-time space endurance list.
Those are quite significant accomplishments for a woman who is being over shadowed by someone who has been the topic of countless news features and posts ad nauseam on social media, for posing in a bathing suit.
I know some people might call me petty, but honestly, my outrage is based in a genuine concern for the progress, or the lack of, in the advancement of women as equal and worthy contributors in all aspects of modern life.
If we want more women astronauts, then we must give them media attention, not only because they deserve it, but also because girls who aspire to pursue that path need to see women succeeding. If we want equal hiring practices for mature women and equal treatment professionally for all women, we must hold up the issue and the women who are confronting it. If we want to be represented equally in government we must encourage women to run for office and spotlight the appropriate candidates, regardless of age.
If we want more of the same second rate treatment, inequality, and political lip service we’ve gotten about equal rights, then we should keep the camera on Martha. And keep feeding that wolf.
If we want change, then we need to step up, speak up and hold media responsible for their choices. Tell a friend, share this piece, write letters, do whatever it takes to influence how the world sees us now. Don’t let the wolf of hope starve.