Ruth Bader Ginsberg passed away on Friday and suffice to say I’m gutted. To me, this feels like yet WTF 2020 moment. I’m not surprised, but I’m still incredibly sad. I fear for our country and how this will affect our social landscape. I’m furious with the patriarchy and all the old white men in our government who are working so tirelessly to suppress the rights of women, minorities, and those with limited resources.
I feel stressed, anxious, and powerless.
One thing I know is that when I feel this way, others do too. I also know that when I’m in a state of grief, anxiety, or stress, I tend to make worse health choices for myself that increase these feelings instead of better ones.
As I reflect on this, what is likely to come politically in the next few months, and everything that the notorious RBG stood for, I find myself ruminating over a single question.
What does it mean to dissent?
RBG was infamous for her dissents on landmark cases. She was thoughtful, careful with her words, and took no prisoners. She had special collars, including one which she wore when she would be dissenting, which were so much more than an accessory piece. She was unapologetically feminine and brilliant in an arena swarmed by white men upholding an outdated and vile value system.
We can’t all be Ruth Bader Ginsberg, but we can certainly embody what she stood for.
Fairness. Thoughtfulness. A tireless commitment to doing right by those around us even in the face of an oppressive and deeply flawed system – aka the patriarchy.
I’m going to save the civil rights discussion for someone more educated than myself to unpack, but let’s talk about what the patriarchy does to women on a social level. It dictates that our value is in our exterior. It teaches us to stay quiet, subservient, and as small as possible. It tells us that our well-being doesn’t matter and taking care of ourselves is selfish.
This brings me to the word dissent.
In simple terms, dissent is defined as to differ in opinion. However, when we consider the word in the context of the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the act of dissension is not benign. It’s a powerful act of defiance.
So as we press forward into uncertain times, I propose that we dissent.
When the world tells us that our well-being doesn’t matter, we dissent and take care of ourselves anyways.
When it feels like all of the bad things are consuming us and we find ourselves aching to push that self-destruct button on the habits and actions that would serve us, we dissent and make the choice that is best for us.
When diet culture tells us that we are not worthy as we are right now, we dissent and choose to believe otherwise.
The more I think about the word dissent in the context of diet culture and traditional health and fitness messaging, the more I believe that the ultimate act of dissention is to reject any narrative that doesn’t serve your individual needs and to choose yourself.
What might this have to do with politics might you ask?
Simple. Obsession with food, fitness, and being as small as possible, drains us, distracts us, and prevents us from showing up fully in our lives. The fear that we’re not enough or being attacked for using our voices, prevent us from changing this narrative and in turn advocating for other people and changing the world.
It’s not sustainable to take care of or advocate for others, if you don’t take care of yourself first.
And it goes without saying, but I hope you realize that I’m not talking about bubble baths or extravagant purchases here. I’m talking about implementing health promoting habits (sleep, rest, nourishing food, hydration, moderate movement) from a place of self-care and not shame that light you up or at the very least sustain you.
I have a sense that the next few months are going to be rough for many of us.
In those difficult times, I say dissent. Show up for yourself and then show up for your community and the people around you.
On a final note, it makes me so very sad that Ruth Bader Ginsberg had to hold onto her role in the Supreme Court for so long. She should have been retired by now. She shouldn’t have had to battle cancer, while also battling our devastatingly flawed political system and the monsters upholding it.
I think the least we can do is to carry on what she fought for. So vote. Show up. Care.
As you were.