How the media influences body image is a topic that many women feel that they have very little control over. Young women and teenage girls try to imitate the mainstream beauty of celebrities and high fashion models, overlooking the fact that society has an abundance of heroic women that we can choose to admire not only for their external beauty-- but for their inner beauty, integrity, and strength that warrants respect and cultural admiration.
I fell in love with Harriet Tubman when I was 20-years-old and I am still in love with her to this very day. In Harriet Tubman’s biography she talked about how every night she would pray to God to stop her master from beating her. But she said that it seemed like the more she prayed the more severely her master would beat her.
She decided that God was inside of her and that He would only do the things for her that she could not do for herself, so she decided to plan an escape from slavery. Secondly, she told herself that she would no longer think of herself as a slave, because she believed that her thoughts would create her reality. She said that in order to be a free person she had to think of herself as a free person.
Harriet Tubman’s first two attempts to escape failed because she decided to bring her family along who changed their mind at the last minute or told others who blew their cover. On her third attempt to freedom, she told absolutely no one and put on a disguise as a crazy old man and successfully escaped the plantation.
Harriet Tubman became my first mentor even though she couldn’t read or write. Here is an academically illiterate woman who couldn’t read her own wanted dead or alive signs who found her way to freedom—because she embraced the God of Action inside of her.
But this is not why I love her. I love Harriet Tubman because after finding her own way to freedom she came back and led over 300 slaves to freedom. If I had been Harriet Tubman trying to escape from slavery, I would have been traumatized by the cold dirty rivers, the bugs, and the dogs chasing me. I think I would have become an alcoholic telling my story of horror-- of how I escaped to freedom to anyone who would have listened to me.
What I love most about Harriette Tubman is that she used her imagination to shape the reality of her own self-image although this view of herself was in direct conflict, with a society that viewed her as a piece of property and less than fully human.
Sometimes when I am feeling frustrated and spoiled because I see more gray hair, a wrinkle underneath my eye, or not being able to make my stomach flat again—no matter how many sit-ups I do; I think about Harriette Tubman traveling through the underground rail road bringing a new family to freedom and I think to myself, real beauty is timeless, ageless and unforgettable. I realize that if I am only thinking about myself, I am probably not projecting the body image of beauty that will stand the test of time.