As women, if we don’t take our desires, our dreams, our work, our art, our gifts seriously, then neither will the rest of the world.
Instead of focusing on creating, on making what we’re called to make with all our skill and heart, we’re urged to turn our energies to building platforms (you know who loved platforms? Herr Hitler. Also, every demagogue with a microphone…).
We are urged to serve up what will appeal to the market — that mythic beast with its magical ability to make or break us. We are told to sell ourselves rather than our art.
The joy of creating and the heart of service yield to the exigencies of a marketplace dominated by the lifestyle brand. We are lost in the woods, trying to follow paths that lead to what we believe are the market’s desires (which are, inevitably, both fickle and misleading.)
Meanwhile, the call of our souls remains unanswered; the pattern that is ours to weave into the web of the universe, remains unraveled.
Marketability for women often (though not always) includes: beauty, as defined by the dominant culture; a willingness to exploit our bodies, our “uniqueness”, our families, our very lives in service to the brand.
We become the purveyors of lifestyle as performance art — show us that you hang with the cool kids, in cool locations around the world, doing cool things, and we will love you forever; or at least, until the next shiny lifestyle brand comes along.
If we’re as chill as ice-cream on a summer’s day, the people who hang with us become the new cool kids too, by virtue of proximity to our fabulous selves.
Until the great wheel turns and we, who were once so very cool, find ourselves washed up on the detritus-strewn shores of the once-rad-and-now-utterly-forgotten.
Fame. Wealth. Self-obsession.
The deep grooves of capitalism.
Family as brand, anyone?
It’s a multi-car crash in slow motion. One minute we’re all shiny paint job, sleek speed and blurred motion; the next, charred wreckage and mangled steel.
How long before people catch onto the rigged rules of the game and say No Thanks? How long before they hike off on their own particular trails instead of thronging down the highway of the Lifestyle Guru cult?
Maybe this is the purpose lifestyle brands serve. Church attendance is down, with the exception of the evangelical crowd. The Sacred has been hammered into a brand too.
There’s a desperate desire, as we sink into the shifting sands of our world, for something stable to hold onto; a desire the pedlars of certainty exploit to the benefit of their bank accounts.
Fundamentalists, lifestyle gurus, guides — they purport to provide it, this elusive bluebird of certainty.
Do this. Believe this. Follow this. Tithe to this.
And you will be saved. Or rich. Or both.
In this life; or the next.
It’s a simple scam, really.
Exploit essential human hungers. Offer belonging through familiarity, through sameness, through huddling, through followership. Use the threat of Othering to keep the naysayers in line.
Offer sanctuary in a belief system, a lifestyle, an anthem: We, We Are The Chosen Ones!
Sway and sing.
Close your eyes.
Sway and sing.