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The Temple of the Blonde Goddess
The Exoticization of the feminine is a unique cross to bear for the non Western European Anglo-Saxon, Nordic, Celtic, or Teutonic female. For years in the West, at least in the world of Madison Avenue advertising, the revered concept for feminine beauty was the blue-eyed blonde from Southern California. The blonder the better, the bluer the eyes the better, and the more buxom the better, for it was revered as a modern version of Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of Love, Sexuality, and Beauty. Many females are epitomized this quintessential gold standard of what a woman must physically look like to be worshiped …. Christie Brinkley, Bridgit Bardot, Claudia Schiffer, Farrah Fawcett, and Pamela Anderson who has personified her best in commercial history.
So what happens to the women who will never fit into that mold?
A variety of things. In my case I was the adult version of the little Asian girl in the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty Ad who seemed as if she would cry because as the caption said “Wishes she were blonde”. Since my early adolescence, especially growing up in a predominantly homogenous city in the West, this was a latent wish. If only I looked like that I would be accepted, loved, adored, included, and treated as a human being. Remember that this was the late 80’s/early 90’s in Calgary, Alberta, a city that was the Canadian version of Houston, Texas complete with attitudes and prejudices. My looks gave me a feeling of being an alien and a deep rejection at the alienation of peers.
When I was barely 17 I moved to Toronto, 3000 miles east, and the most multicultural city in the world according to the United Nations. I was running away from the Rocky Mountain town of my childhood in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and my first “puppy love” who was the only safe person in my adolescent peer group. He was kind, accepting, and a friend who seem to want to make me feel better. I was also so vulnerable that I felt a reinforced romantic inferiority when he dated Miss Teen Calgary and every other Stampede Princess around. He was handsome, athletic, intelligent, popular, and came from a good family. He loved blondes but dated the occasional redhead and brunette.
Once in Toronto I was no longer odd looking but I was to experience the exoticization of my looks. People related to me as a culture, or a set of conceived notion of subservient Filipino women, and spoke to me in Tagalog, one of a thousand dialects from the Philippines which I never learned because my dialect was the very different Visayan. Men would flirt with me by using Filipino words that were more foreign to me than them. Some would sing the Philippine national anthem which they understood and yet I could not verify if it were true. Men and women assumed I was either a nanny who spoke accented English or came to Canada as a mail order bride. Even when I spoke in a Canadian accent and explained that I had grown up here since age two it seemed not to register. I was treated or expected to be the image presented on a Philippine Tourist Ad in travel agencies. When my personality was seen as opposite that anyone interested would quickly vanish because it did not fit into their mental construct of what an Asian woman was like. So the early twenties was single doom to a hilt and once again, Blondie got the invitations, dates, and love and romance galore in my eyes. Either I was a female but exotic in looks but not temperament or just “not from the background wanted”. Fighting against my own cultural demands on women and the dominant Western culture was a double whammy that seared into my mind that it, love, was not for me. I invested all my energy into work and hobbies and making friends and divorced myself from the mere possibility of romance. Sure I went through a phase of dating Bay Street types but it was “just lunch dates between work”.
Coinciding with this inner ethnic battle was the huge popularity of Baywatch in the early 90’s and the superstardom of Pamela Anderson as the most desired lifeguard on the planet. Living in University residence had many girls adopt her look and many boys hang her picture (clothes and not all) on their walls. Being this latest variation of the blonde goddess complements of syndicated TV in her newest incarnation of busty all out sex pot worked. I just had to count the dates. So once again it was driven inside at a greater force than before. The natural female desire to be noticed and replaced by a drive to be busy and be productive like a good Protestant work ethic would entail yet never mind I was Catholic. A part of me was sad and resigned and workaholic busyness was my anesthetic of choice. It was admirable but it didn’t heal my heartbreak. Why would I settle to be with someone who only liked me because of some exoticization concept in their mind that I would have to play into? In my defiance and in sour grapes I decided to be myself and really be clear I was not that. My Asian stereotype pressure was disempowering.
Throughout my twenties I deliberately dyed my hair blue-black with an indigo sheen. I wore colors that favored my coloring. I was very serious about things. Too serious.
Where did I fit in this exoticization game because dates were few and far between? Who would date a workaholic serious all the time with a chip on her shoulder? The inner rejection continued through University, work life, and as I approached my late twenties had grown into such an emotional inferno that I consulted a plastic surgeon trained in Japan and the United States to have my eyes westernized and my nose made sharper. I was only 26 years old when this fixation dawned on me and spent three years attempting to raise funds for the double procedure. It was a yearning to be seen as me and a try at evading a more personal healing process requiring an exorcism of exoticization and its emotional demons.
I never had the surgery because it would have meant getting a month off from the operation given the double process. The cosmetic surgeon had said that if I did it twice I got a discount and it would be easier on the facial nerves. So I let that go and worked on using social activity to add to my remedy of busyness. Then at age 30 it hit me. Wounds long palliated were made fresh and raw by love itself. From age 26 several friends urged me to reconsider the surgery and heal the old hurts through proper counseling. Since the counseling was covered by insurance it was an easy but slow path to pursue. Over three years there was progress and growth and comfort in my skin that was emerging. I had done The Landmark Forum, The Hoffman Process, and physical activity in exercise and some yoga mixed with meditation. Things were easing off or so I thought.
He parachuted into my life. A friend of a friend who had pursued getting to know me for a year. A chance opportunity and he was in my life trying to romance me with flowers and sensing what made me tick. For a brief summer it felt like I was having some teenage romance about 15 years overdue! I discovered how he had always been nearby me in many different parts of town. My mind tricked me to believing it was fate. Our astrological signs matched. He understood me without words. I felt very close to him. Nothing had prepared me for a sudden bliss of affection and connection but like all mirages. The Achilles heel was exposed. Other than Calgary puppy love from High School this was the only other guy who gave me a sense of safety and comfort. But unlike puppy love I felt I had to perform to keep the fondness and affection. Many times I would say to him, “How come you never pulled up my parents driveway when you were 16?”
He was also a divorced single father. He had spent a decade with his former partner. She was my polar opposite in his own words. Polar opposite in looks, personality, temperament, background, upbringing, values, and every other which way. She was blonde. She emulated Pamela Anderson deliberately since he got together with her. In the Hoffman Process when someone loses their significant other they often in extreme denial select an emotional replacement who is the exact antithesis as a coping mechanism. The person is not chosen for themselves but rather for what they are not. The chooser really wants what they had but in an attempt to delude themselves otherwise they go in reverse. Once again, the exotic rendered me as a projection first and a person second. All his romantic gestures and thoughtful sweetness was not towards me but a projection of what he thought I was and could be.
It was like a love triangle with a living ghost who was never there but ever present. Constant comparisons and chronic complaints contrasted to my saintly ways. She was the sinner. I was the saint. Yet both archetypes could exist in one person and I knew there was more to the story. I didn’t delve into it. I plotted an exit strategy when he took me away for a day in the country only to find out it was on her birthday so he could take his mind off her by having me there as some distraction. The day had been spent with mutual friends at a cottage until he began complaining in the drive home that night. His anger crossed the line when he said he was keeping tabs on who she had been dating since they split almost three years earlier. He had lied when I confronted him at the start about whether he was complete with what happened. I had told him that if he needed more time it was fine. But he lied and just incriminated himself.
I said nothing and choose to walk away in one week’s time. The wound of adolescence came up fast and furious in an intensity like it never had before. A wound that never healed was slashed opened. Behind his back I blocked his emails, then his phone, and then called his voicemail when I knew he was not there. It was time for excommunicating the worshiper of the Blonde goddess like the raven-haired Athena who was the Greek goddess of war, wisdom, and strategy. Athena, the antithesis of Aphrodite, was the goddess who decided with her head and not her heart. My heart had been deceived and now my head would make it right.
“It’s me. It’s Tuesday morning around 9:30am, and I’m calling to say good-bye. Take care of yourself. Take care of your son. It was great spending time with you. Good luck to you.”
That was it. I made it impossible for his reply. I willfully created boundaries to protect my spirit. I created circumstances so I would never hear his Blondie worship disguised as resentment ever again. I symbolically in my wounded vengeance and anger and sorrow killed off the source of a potential re-traumatic event in the name of exoticization. Months went by. The seething envy grew as if I was truly devoured by a lion. My workaholic intensity grew to an inferno of five hours sleep, back to back time slots filled in my day planner, and endless volunteer activities to take up time and commitment. When the hurt bothered me in my dreams I found solace and therapeutic healing in Hoffman workshops and Landmark seminars. Meditation was a daily mental prescription as was massages, acupuncture, and other body work. Nothing worked for long. I was now rejecting myself even though he was long gone. I couldn’t stop.
Every time I saw a glamorous ad it had a blonde woman with the world at her feet. Talk about selective perception. Every time I saw an ad with an exotic woman she was made wild with imagery of the jungle. The blonde’s sexuality was prestigious but the exotic’s was dangerous and less than. This was a torment that would not end. I was causing my own turmoil and inner war. Six months after the breakup I was walking through a bookstore after work. I planned to buy a book for my girlfriend’s birthday when I happened upon a title called “Transcendent Beauty”. The book was new and part of a display on health and well-being subjects. I could not resist.
I picked up a copy and flipped through the pages on envy and jealousy and came across a sentence that began to break the spell of inferiority …. Could you imagine if only the red rose was considered the only flower that was beautiful. So I imagined a world without African Violets, Lilies, Daisies, Lilacs, and others that constitute a majestic garden. And so that one concept began the journey of realizing that being a first class me rather than a second rate someone else as the healing potion. The book focused on self acceptance and in reading more I knew that it was self-forgiveness that I needed. I was angry at me for being foolish enough to give this man a chance in the first place. There were a lot of red flags evident which didn’t factor into my assessment. I gave someone the benefit of the doubt and it created an emotional crisis. I should have known that his baggage would press and press my wounds until they were raw but foolish optimism distorted my judgment.
What was the gift in call this? Healing, sensitivity, a more empathic understanding of the spectrum of human emotion, and maturity in the objective assessment of a person’s nature. My life did become about honoring me as all the suffering forced me to allow the wounds to heal. The book and other tools joined me on a yearlong journey with starts and stops, lots of fears, moments of upset, and the easing of growing pains as the wounds began to close. The constant comparison script lost its loud voice and with help I overwrote my self-talk.
Nothing has changed. I am still visually exotic but I no longer wish to look like a red rose when I am say an African Violet or Tunisian Sunflower. Sometimes the nagging of comparison comes up but it goes away faster. I just focus on Transcendent Beauty’s tools and the Buddhist practice of being in the present moment. The practice of a disciplined mind and appreciation are so simple they are brilliant and overlooked ways to be in positive consciousness. Luckily I have never seen the Blonde goddess worshiper again and thank God. My own self-respect, a hard earned gift from that situation, will never attract it again.
Why Transcendent Beauty? Why did it start a healing journey? Here is why from the book cover:
Often when we meet a person who’s beautiful, we say that they “lit up the room.” The transcendently beautiful have an inner beacon that’s brilliantly lit and brimming with bliss. They’ve learned how to attract light while calming the ego-knowing that when the mind abides by the soul, the body, in turn, is connected to this knowingness, and transcendent beauty follows. Such people live in harmony-their health is abundant, their bodies are agile and fit, and their minds are vibrant and inspired. And while most people talk about attractiveness as being merely physical, true beauty definitely comes from the
Transcendent Beauty will take you on a journey where you’ll see how easy it can be to shine yourself. If you embrace and practice the principles outlined in Transcendent Beauty, you’ll see how easy it can be for you, too, to shine with an intoxicating power. One day without warning a shift will occur, and you’ll suddenly realize that you’re no longer trying to be beautiful-you are!
Lesson: Let no one, not even Madison Avenue, tell you that God makes junk!
P.S. In the Spring of 2008 a work project brought me back after many years to Calgary. The city had changed and was like a little Toronto in its multicultural atmosphere. I found my childhood puppy love. He still preferred blondes. Our friendship had long faded because we had changed so much. I thanked him for never roving his eye towards me because it would kept me in town. Instead, his “just friends” position on me was the greatest gift. It gave me Toronto and the wisdom of the Big City. It gave me New York and the streetwise attitude of Manhattan. It gave me California and the worldliness of the West Coast mixed with the East Coast. And had he asked me to stay the second time around … the answer would have been no. He knows he will never be far from my heart but I will always be geographically far away from him.
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