Hey everyone! Today, I have a guest post from the wonderful S, from Element of Honesty. This blogger sent me one of the most lovely emails I’ve received in a while, and is a kind person overall. This post is one of the most amazing ones I’ve read in a long time.
These days, we’re witnessing the peak of empowering movements. Whether it’s women, LGBTQ+, body image, race and ethnicity, or social class, the world is slowly moving towards empowering those that a typical society looks down upon. But, at the same time, a new phenomenon is surging, what I like to call The Empowerment Seesaw (which is, by no means, a recognized technical term).
The Empowerment Seesaw is what happens when, in order to uplift a certain group of ostracized individuals, we tear another group down. For example: when, in order to empower someone who has a body shape that the media and fashion industry deem unacceptable, we shame someone who fits their standard. This isn’t empowerment, because it makes sure someone is always at the bottom. This is like a lamb throwing another to the wolf, so it escapes being eaten. This is, of course, a double-edged sword, since there are oppressive groups, and shining a spotlight on them is essential for change and real empowerment. I’ll give you an example of this: when, in order to uplift the black community and their rights as citizens and humans, we shame the police force, that actively kills minorities. The difference, I think, is that, just like the person who wasn’t born with a “desirable” body-type, the person who was isn’t at fault. Your genes are one of the few things about yourself that you can’t have control over. But when officers choose to play court and apply their own view of justice (instead of doing their job, which is to arrest those who break the law) they are acting through their own hands, perpetuating a cycle of violence and oppression and ensuring someone’s always at the bottom of the social pyramid.
If an individual, who fits the standards, chooses not to represent them as the norm, the industry will just choose someone else to do the job. The ones that actively and consciously perpetuate oppression are the ones who we, as a welcoming and inclusive society, should be fighting and trying to change. Furthermore, the way we perceive the people who are systematically pushed down is also the key to empowerment. Fighting the misconceptions and stereotypes we get shoved down our throats since we’re born and forming our own opinions is extremely important, so that, one day, empowerment is no longer necessary, and we don’t have to tear one down to uplift another up. Human lives are not child’s play.