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Lions and Camels and Dragons, Oh My! | Manolo for the Big Girl

Lions and Camels and Dragons, Oh My!

Every woman who has ever opened a glossy magazine knows there are few things that women love more than rules. Twelve Hot Rules for Bedroom Bliss! Ten Style Staples You Can’t Live Without!

It’s tough because there is something to be said for never complaining about your body in front of a man or owning one perfect cashmere sweater. Even in life –which is marginally less important than a perfect cashmere sweater– there are basic rules of engagement we are expected to follow because we are social creatures functioning within a society.

And yet? The only thing sadder than a woman afraid to do what she pleases is a woman who is too afraid to ask herself what she likes in the first place.

I believe I’ve told the story a few years back when a young woman of my acquaintance started showing up places dressed in what can only be described as a Miss Plumcake costume. It was embarrassing. Flattering in a sense, but embarrassing. She did not know –or did not have the confidence– to wear what she liked, so she followed someone else’s rules for looking glamorous. Instead she looked like a knock-off. Was she happy? I don’t know. But I do know when I put something on my body, I’m doing so because it expresses something I want to say. My clothes/makeup/shoes/hair/whatever are an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual somethingorother.

My outside reflects the inside, or at least the part of the inside I want to share that day. It’s mine, not yours. I know the rules, I’ve learned them and when it pleases me I reject them. And if you don’t like it? Try not to slip on my single salty tear. And the reverse holds true. If you wear acid washed mom jeans because you LOVE them and you feel they express who you are as a person, then who cares if (by which I mean WHEN) I roll my eyes?

In The Power of Myth Joseph Campbell talks about a section in “Thus Spake Zarathustra” when Nietzsche describes the journey of being and becoming.

We start out life as a camel and our job is to bear a burden. The weight is the wisdom and knowledge and tradition of others; our friends, our society, our elders. The camel goes out into the desert and there becomes a lion. The strength of the lion depends on how much weight he was able to carry when he was a camel. The lion’s job is to slay the dragon and on that dragon’s every scale is written the words “Thou Shalt.”

When the lion kills the dragon, he is no longer a lion but a child, remembering the burden of the camel and the Thou Shalts of the dragon. He creates his own Self, not out of ignorance, but having weighed and rejected the Thou Shalt in favor of the I Will.

Now generally speaking, Captain Moustache isn’t my idea of a good time, but he makes an interesting point.

As women, especially as fat women, we get pummeled with Thou Shalts from the second we start pudging out, or the second we learn to worry that we might SOMEDAY pudge out.

We get it from our parents, from our well-meaning (or not so well-meaning) friends, from society. Everywhere we look the world is coated with those golden glittering scales.

How many of those scales do you carry with you? How many are valuable? How many help you be who you want to be?

More importantly? How many scales are we trying to pin to other people?

9 Responses to “Lions and Camels and Dragons, Oh My!”

  1. wildflower February 8, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    May I steal a Miss Plumcake line? I’d love to tell people that I do such and such because I have a deeply spiritual somethingorother! :)

  2. Miss Plumcake February 8, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    @Wildflower: Absolutely, although you should know it’s not QUITE my line. It actually belongs (mostly) to Anglican All-Star Richard Hooker who in 1594 published the page-turner Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie wherein he defined a sacrament as “an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace.” and even he cribbed it from Augustine of Hippo’s definition of a sacrament as “a visible sign of an invisible reality” around the turn of the 4th to 5th century.

    I still have cuter shoes though.

  3. dillene February 8, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    Speaking of self-actualization, does anyone know the French word for “frumpy”? The English variant doesn’t quite capture my essence.

  4. Jezebella February 8, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

    Try the French edition of “Elegance of the Hedgehog”. One of the characters is the very definition of frumpy.

  5. marvel February 8, 2011 at 10:51 pm #

    “Where there is great love there are always miracles. One might almost say that an apparition is human vision corrected by divine love. I do not see you as you really are, Joseph; I see you through my affection for you. The Miracles of the Church seem to me to rest not so much upon faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there about us always.”
    –Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop

    Plumcake: making the divine visible.

    In all seriousness, I love this quote as a reminder that the eternal essence of being is deeper and truer than the transient whims of what “society tells us.” After the Dior gowns and Jimmy Choo heels are but dust and ashes, love and grace will remain. Drop the scales people, and have some compassion for those who are still molting.

  6. Nariya February 9, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    Thanks for writing this! I love it and for the first time in my life I am vaguely inspired to read Nietzsche (only vaguely, but still). It reminds me of when my mother called me up and told me not to wear black, because “you’re too skinny for it, and your aunt in India thinks it’s boring in photos.” I ask you!

  7. hickchick February 10, 2011 at 1:22 am #

    I’m so excited to see someone quote Willa Cather. LOVE her.

  8. Lizz February 10, 2011 at 1:23 am #

    One of the reasons I find this blog inspiring isn’t because it’s proof of how big girls can be Fabulous, although that is inspiring and I do occasionally need reminding. Rather, I find it inspiring because it’s proof that slightly nerdy(in my case very nerdy) intellectuals can be Fabulous. How often does one see Nietzsche referenced on a fashion blog?

  9. Karen February 10, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

    I will wear all the red I damn well please.

    That is all.