Oprah’s speech at the Golden Globes has stirred the world. With almost 8 million views on YouTube and countless shares on social media, it resonates with what women are going through at these interesting times. (It’s down below if you haven’t seen it yet)
We have a culture of silence. Girls are trained at a very early age to keep quiet, to not make trouble, to not rock the boat and to go along.
We can be silenced about big things like abuse and violence but also about little things. Depending on your culture and family it will take on different forms and shapes. Even in cultures where women seem strong, vocal, opinionated and “bossy”, there is an underlying message that we should tone it down; we should not speak too loud, we should not laugh too loud, we should be more demure and lady like, we should not seem vulgar and abrasive.
Growing up in a Jewish religious family and going to all-girls religious schools, I was told not to sing in front of men. During prayers and celebratory meals, when singing was traditional, if there was a man teacher or rabbi present, we had to sing in very subdued voices because “female voices could lead men to sinful thoughts”. Talk about a message of silence! It still breaks my heart to see little girls being silenced from expressing their bursts of creativity in my family.
I think it is VERY IMPORTANT that we tell our stories of being silenced. What was it like for us? What was it like in our families? What messages did we get? I invite you to tell your story, even if it’s only to the page and if you feel inclined, share it here in the comments.
In my practice, I see the direct connection between this culture of silence and our health. When we are forced, encouraged or even gently nudged to not voice our needs and concerns, it manifests in so many different ways. See if you can find yourself in one or more of these examples:
• Shelley was woman who came to my women health circle and always sat at the back in total silence. After a few meetings she finally opened up and told us how her doctor, husband and children were controlling her food environment, not allowing her to shop for food and putting locks on the pantry and refrigerator. Shelley was morbidly obese with a rampant food addiction and their intention was to save her life, but their strategies were not working… Controlling her food environment was a very ineffective short-term fix which would always back-fire because Shelley would naturally rebel against it. She slowly revealed the abuse in her childhood she was never allowed to talk about. Learning to tell her story and taking charge of her health is what eventually saved Shelley.
• Monique, a dear friend of mine, with a budding singing career, was told by a prestigious record company that they will only sign her up if she lost weight. Monique was a slim and healthy young woman who by no means needed to lose weight. Feeling like she could not voice her outrage at the men who ran the record company, she started starving herself in order to have the career of her dreams. After many conversation with me and with other women, Monique took charge of her life and career by turning the record deal down. She realized that weight was just one issue of how she will be controlled personally and artistically by working with these particular men. She now has a successful career on her terms.
• Flora is a wife, mother and grandmother who’s children’s families lived nearby. She has been trying to transition to healthier eating in order to heal her many health issues, but her husband and family would not have it. She is retired with a small volunteering job that she likes but she still cooked, cleansed, did laundry and babysat for her children. She just could not say no to any of her family’s demands. During our consultations Flora realized that her health will never improve if she kept on taking care of everyone else except herself. She made changes that were met with a lot of initial resistance, like deciding to cook healthier versions of family favorites, telling her children she can no longer do their laundry and agreeing to babysit every other weekend instead of every weekend. Her family slowly adjusted and came to appreciate her decision to prioritize her health.
Every woman who has done my consultation program or participated in my women health circle has her version of those stories. More and more women are learning that in order to heal and thrive we need to prioritize ourselves and we cannot do it while keeping silent. We need to voice our concerns. We need to communicate our needs. We need to be vocal about what is not working for us and ask for what is.
Let’s decide together that #Time’sUp for being silent and step into our powerful role of taking charge of our health and our life.
Health Nut Girl's FREE 3-DaySpring Cleanse For A Radiant Body & A Joyful Life
Experience more energy, better digestion and balanced health.
So on point to what’s happening. I see similar in my practice what the price of silence has manifested into a health issue. The biggest is the link between breath cancer and abuse. Thank you for sharing.
Laura, thank you for your words and for helping women heal the affects of abuse.
I spoke out in the 60’s and 70’s. I’m feeling the need to unpack my tie-dyed shirts and start marching again … very loudly!
We need your voice Barb!
I was moved by Oprah’s speech too. It gave me hope that things will get better. I love how you connected this to our food stories and self-care. I recently told my teenage sons that they needed to do their own laundry. They were shocked – somewhat argumentative – but everyone survived (including me!). LOL!
That is a huge thing Jill, it will be really good for your teenage sons to learn how to do their laundry and see their mom taking charge and care of herself. Bravo!!!
Yes Oprah’s speech was so powerful and awakening. Yes silence can be a killer and as you say we must put ourselves first and our health plus our self worth which is where I believe we need to start
So right Suzie, our self worth is at the heart of the matter.
I don’t know a woman who hasn’t experienced being silenced. Even if we grow up in loving families there can be an unspoken rule that some people can have voices and some people can have emotions. In my family, neither possibility was allowed for me. Or, if I did what I had to say didn’t matter. I loved Oprah’s speech at the Golden Globes. Together we need to speak our truth and listen to others who are struggling to speak theirs.
Yes Meghan “Together we need to speak our truth and listen to others who are struggling to speak theirs.” I couldn’t agree more.
I adored Oprah’s speech too Rachel. it was powerful and moving all at the same time.
And you are absolutely right…in order to truly heal we need to accept, own and speak our truth.
Amen sister! We do.
I really think the time as you said is up… and it’s time for us women to speak and to not hold back. I can visualize all the times I wanted to say something and didn’t because I didn’t want to rock the boat for fear of the outcome. But gratefully that is no longer the case 🙂
I’m grateful too Petra, rock that boat!