As I mentioned in my previous post, I am planning to chronicle the sights, sounds, and flavors of summer for the next few entries. Of course, with hotter weather comes the necessity of wearing less to stay cool, so suddenly, how ones body looks becomes of central importance. There is very little one can do to hide under a large winter coat, or distract with a colorful woolen scarf: it’s us, all in our natural glory. I cannot tell you, then, how refreshing it was to attend this year’s Caribbean Festival in Toronto, Caribana, where the average outfit may have weighed several pounds (headdress and sequence alone), but did not look more than a few pieces of string held together by small triangles!
Watching the paraders go by, all walks of life were represented, all cultures were present, and all bodies were out for the samba of their lives! Not one person seemed self-conscious, and if they were, they would be caught in the dust of those who strutted like the peacocks whose feathers they were wearing, not a care in the world. Being able to share this refreshing experience, where the last priority was what others thoughts, seemed ironic in the milieu of a parade, but nevertheless, I was quite elated to be in the audience, marveling at the laissez-faire gyrations of overweight women, and the pleasant jiggling of men’s pot bellies, as they danced down the streets.
Part of the troubled body image culture that we face in North America is highly attributable to the notion to succeed and “be #1” at any cost, so drawing from the mentality of other cultures who take regular moments to savor the art of being is imperative, if we want to break out of these destructive cycles. The entire concept of perfection is being a part of it when you least expect it, and everyone needs to come to that realization sooner or later.