This whole notion of ‘expressing yourself’ is relatively new, at least for those of us raised in an age and a country when a certain amount of British stiff upper lip was considered mannerly. You didn’t waltz around letting it all hang out, physically or emotionally. We oldies have had more adapting to do than the young can begin to get their heads around.
And has it all been A Good Thing?
My reaction to the physical hanging out is threefold. First and foremost, it’s all a bit ho hum. You’ve got one of those or two of those? So what? So’s everyone else. And as for ads about laxatives, tampons and erectile dysfunction – oh for goodness sake, get on with the program.
Secondly, it’s set up a whole new area of competition: if it/they are not up to the standard of the day, your all-important image is blighted. Unless you hurry off and get an expensive and painful ‘fix’ that will allow to flaunt your enlarged/reduced/reshaped goodies without fear of humiliation. I can only imagine how stressful this culture must be.
And thirdly, while nothing will ever, ever excuse the Harvey Weinsteins and the orange hands of this world, and while victims in those situations are never to blame, it would be hopelessly naïve to imagine that if you let it all hang out, no one is going to look. And if they’re honest – deeply and atavistically honest – I’m pretty sure (though I can’t swear to it, I’ve never done it) that those who do let it hang out would be disappointed if nobody did look. All a bit messy, really.
As for letting it all hang out emotionally…
If you don’t ever express your emotions, one of these days you’ll explode. Or implode, or melt down, or fall apart. It’s not good for you.
But there’s a difference between expressing how you feel, and examining each minuscule fleeting emotion as if you’re noodling through the potch for quality opals. And there’s a difference between expressing how you feel and jumping in with both feet to wallow in it for an inordinate length of time and saying You don’t understand to every offer of help.
Now I’m not suggesting a return to neck-to-knee swimsuits and obligatory stoicism, but I do sometimes wonder if we haven’t got a bit carried away with ourselves and our ‘freedoms’ and our ‘rights’.
A bit of thought for other people’s rights and freedoms wouldn’t go astray from time to time.