A call to action: It’s time to start connecting with truth, not compromise — and put an end to secrets and sexual harassment
Thanks for showing up and blowing the proverbial lid off of Pandora’s Box. It is much overdue.
I’ve sat back watching this story unfold throughout the media and beyond for several weeks now — the ‘beyond’ being within myself, my friends and pretty much any woman I know. It’s the conversation du jour and for good reason.
This isn’t all about one sleazy, powerful industry man who abused his power repeatedly. This isn’t about hashtags, politics or so-called ‘witch hunts’. This is about making a cultural paradigm shift that is long overdue, one that actually begins with ourselves.
The time is now for us all to start telling the truth — and not cover up the untruths of others.
The time is now to figure out how to teach our young girls to stand up for themselves and use their voices, while teaching our young boys not to grow up and become bullies abusing their power. And that’s not to say that this kind of abuse cannot happen in reverse — either way, it’s an idea whose time has come.
The shift is upon us. I feel it its rumbling. When we hear the stories of others, they spark our own. Thus #metoo and hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of women standing up across the globe each day to say, yes, me too, I was a victim of the uninvited advances of another. And for many, those advances went further, cut deeper and left permanent scars. Regardless, we collectively conspired to convene in a shroud of secrecy, making jokes about things like the infamous Hollywood ‘casting couch’. And in taking this secret pact, it perpetuated. Why?
Because somewhere, for some reason we were afraid.
But here’s the deal: when we don’t tell the truth in one aspect of our lives, it permeates the other parts. A little white lie here, a little fib there and before you know it, you’re lost in a complicated web of self-deception. When I first heard the news of Harvey Weinstein, I immediately related it to myself — to all my stories, to all the times I felt violated, for all the times I beat myself up for allowing myself to be in compromising situations without the perfect retort or line of defense. Now, that’s the best part. Where did we download this notion that we can be victimized and blame ourselves for it? That’s what I call a double whammy sucker punch.
I was molested repeatedly when I was 16 years old by a man who was probably in his 40’s at the time, a man whom I had been entrusted with, my Parisian modeling agent whom I had been sent to live with.
I was a kid living in a foreign country, still needing to be nurtured. The world was a different place. There was no Internet, no social media, no information highway. I’m still not quite sure how all of the adults in my life — my top New York City modeling agents and my parents — thought this was a good idea. But here’s the thing: I never told anyone. I thought I could handle it. I thought I could muscle through it all and keep him out of my bedroom. Besides, how could anyone help when they don’t even know there was anything to help?
I recall dancing between his advances, dodging, skirting his gross attempts to grope and kiss me.
I still smell him, over-perfumed with stale cigarette breath. We never had sex. I wasn’t raped in that physical way and yet, I was raped emotionally over and over. He stole something from me. And what was I afraid of? Probably thinking my modeling career would be over, that I would be considered a failure and be sent back home. Oh God, if only I could go back to that moment and ‘fail’ — what pain and anxiety I could’ve saved myself from. The irony is that my modeling career would have been far more successful had I gotten away from him sooner. But I said nothing and endured years of emotional abuse from this man.
Years later, back home in New York City with a successful career, I often daydreamed about confronting him face-to-face as the powerful woman I had become. This opportunity was lost when I heard years later that he had died of lung cancer. Louise Hay would say that the lungs hold our sorrow. I wonder if the sorrow of knowing deep within how he abused young women ultimately killed him.
So the phenomenon of #metoo stirs our own stories. And those stories stir more. Immediately, as I allowed myself to recall those painful years in Paris, I realized there were a series of smaller, seemingly less significant ‘me toos’ that led to there.
There’s nothing insignificant about ‘me too’.
My big question is, Why? Why have we collectively agreed to thrust these truths and stories deep within? Hiding them away as if they didn’t exist, doesn’t make them so. That’s a lot to carry around. We need to unbridle those burdens. We need to shift the conversation and become ‘cycle-breakers’ as my friend and Best Selfer, Anna Tsui refers to them. A cycle-breaker is someone who ceases the lineage of any limited thinking or destructive pattern that plays out throughout our families.
Can you connect those dots within your own lineage? Yes, me too…and probably you too.
I have been a part of the problem for decades of my life and recognize that not only do I now want to be a part of the solution, it’s time to rescript the story.
Certainly, I am not responsible for the sins of another, but I am responsible for my silence. I no longer beat up the 16-year old version of me. In fact, I see her as quite fierce and amazing.
Where could you unearth some sheltered shame in your life?
Let’s start showing up for our highest, best selves. It starts individually and trickles down to impact us all collectively. This is how we shift cultures and societal norms. This is where we begin to ask ourselves, where am I compromising myself in the name of fear? It happens every day in big ways and small, but it all adds up. Where are you showing up for something you don’t believe in? Where are you sheltering your own story? We all have excuses…I need this job, I can handle this, I need the money, etc. But compromising our best selves, our truest inner selves, never leads us anywhere empowering, no matter how shiny the penny. There is always a price we pay — and paying with our souls is too dear a price.
You think your voice can’t make a difference? Think again.
Recently, the University of Southern California rejected a 5 million dollar endowment that Harvey Weinstein made to grant scholarships to female directors after one bold student initiated a petition in protest.
Yes, the time has come for you + me + all of us to take a stand for ourselves and to shift the conversation with our young people — to show them that we don’t have to be ‘me toos’ — that we can seize this opportunity and this moment in our beautiful lives to live as we were intended to…connected to truth, not compromise.
As always, I love hearing from you. Let’s do this together — let’s have no more ‘me-toos’. Have you been carrying the burden of secrets? Where can you connect with truth?