I picked up the book, Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave at the bookstore today and as I flipped through it I thought, “I am going to buy this for Kelly Diels, because she’s a bad girl and she’ll like it” (And because she has generously offered me a free Red Shoe Blogger Session with her bad girl self). And then the next thought came: “Why buy it for Kelly when really you want it for yourself?”
Because sadly, I’m not a bad girl… but I want to be.
So I bought it. First for me, second for Kelly.
Editor Ellen Sussman writes in the introduction:
Are bad girls born or made? Some of the writers examine how one wicked moment in their lives revealed the delicious power of being bad. What is that power? Where does it come from? Where does it take us? Some of the writers regret their misdeeds, some revel in them. Is bad behavior a fall from grace or a triumph? The answer is yes.
This is it. This is why I want to be a bad girl, because I want to say YES, whether I’m f–king things up or fixing them up I want my answer to be YES. And often it is…but the good girl still pauses in caution, makes up stories about what will happen, walks slowly into the lake to test the waters instead of simply taking the plunge and trusting that the big sexy bad universe is always saying YES and so can I.
In my attempt to avoid suffering I’m often creating it.
My cautiousness hasn’t kept me from having a broken heart or breaking other people’s hearts—but I do think it’s got in the way of pure pleasure, of letting my animal body loose, of completing the gesture that has begun within and wants to reach, hold, reveal, give, take, come, say YES.
It’s not about not playing it safe. I don’t want to do dangerous things—but I do want to do daring things (like speak my mind, hold my own, and help people heal).
So what does it mean to give oneself the label of bad girl? Does it mean you are a slut? Does it mean you are asking for it? No No No!!!!! Don’t accept any label you do not want.
Don’t want to be a bad girl? You’re not. Don’t want to be a good girl? You can’t be.
The only reason to take on a label like this is if it will expand your sense of yourself. If you find it is limiting drop it immediately.
The identity we hold about ourselves is a purely invented construction and so we can do all the dissembling and reconstruction we want.
Here is what being a bad girl means to me:
It means not following the rules of the game. Be that the narrow limiting game in which society asks us to conform to its insane unexamined values that lead to war and misery, or the unspoken conditioned habits and dictates we grew up with within our family of origin that no longer serve us.
It means saying NO. NO because you don’t want to. NO because you have other plans. NO without an apology. Not an aggressive, cruel NO. Just a simple: NO.
It means saying YES. YES because you are hungry for your life. YES because you are life. YES because this is your chance. YES because you have a voice and you want to use it.
It means taking up space. Let’s just be clear: we all do take up space. We all have been granted breathing room on this here planet. And it is ours to fill up, to empty, to stand in the center of and hold our ground.
It means loving all of yourself. Good/Bad: what do these words really mean? Can we be with ourselves so intimately, so sensitively that words like good and bad fall away? What is here without these words? What is here when we let the quiet come toward us?
A few weeks ago Kelly Diels posted a video on her blog Cleavage of Anita Roberts giving a TED talk titled: The Transmutation of Suffering into Healing. I’m posting it again here because it is so powerful and so important. Anita’s life work is in violence prevention and empowerment of girls and women.
The list I wrote above of what it means to be a bad girl, it could just as easily be a list of what it means to be a wise woman.
Take this in. And share it.
The night before I left Paris I went to see the movie Pina (which I’ve just discovered appears to have no release date for the US! I highly recommend a summer trip to Europe for this film alone). It is a documentary by German film-maker Wim Wenders about dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch. As a woman intimately living my life inside my body few artists have ever come so close to expressing what this experience is for me as Pina Bausch. She gives me extraordinary vision and courage to live a daring life beyond bad girl or wise woman into the dancer/artist that I am.
The movie is in 3D. The dancers come toward you and they move away. They enter you and leave you. I wept all the way through behind my dark 3D glasses and went out into the Paris night knowing newly what it means to be human.
Do you need help dissembling or reconstructing your identity, embracing the bad girl and wise woman within? Hire me, I’ll help.