Sunday, April 17, 2011

Rethinking "Modern" Love: What I've learned from Reese Witherspoon and bell hooks

I’ve admired Reese Witherspoon for many years for her courage, strength and charm. I loved her authenticity in Walk the Line, and I appreciate her honesty about the dissolution of her marriage to Ryan Philippe. For her second wedding to Jim Toth, she chose a beautiful light pink dress, and I applaud her for going off of the “traditional” route. The other day while discussing wedding dresses, I declared that if I got married, I did not want to wear a white dress on my wedding day. My friends looked at me in agreement stating, “Yeah, me neither. I think I want something off-white or ivory.” Well, that wasn’t what I meant. When I told them that I think I want to wear something unique and maybe lavender, they thought I was crazy.

What frustrates me is that I have to explain myself for going against a "norm" that the wedding industry perpetuates. The wedding industry has constructed a woman’s wedding day as the best moment in her life where she must wear the white dress and kiss her prince. But, what about the people that don’t get this happy ending? Is it the woman’s fault that she didn’t meet someone that she wanted to share her life with? Was she just not trying hard enough? I admire Reese for openly admitting that she married young, made some mistakes and has now found someone that she is happy with.

I read an article from Elle magazine that describes Reese’s dress as “pink enough to make it appropriate for a second wedding.” What bothers me is that for her second wedding it was inappropriate for her to wear “white.” There is a stigma that you only have one love for the rest of your life. I think you have many loves in your life. They can be people, children, hobbies and travel locations. I often have discussions with friends about how the number one question we are asked is about our relationship status. What about the passion and enthusiasm women bring to their work and job lives?

bell hooks describes love as a transformative force but only if people will put in the time and investment:
"Genuine love is rarely an emotional space where needs are instantly gratified. To know love we have to invest time and commitment...'dreaming that love will save us, solve all our problems or provide a steady state of bliss or security only keeps us stuck in wishful fantasy, undermining the real power of the love -- which is to transform us.' Many people want love to function like a drug, giving them an immediate and sustained high. They want to do nothing, just passively receive the good feeling."

Don't we all deserve the kind of love that hooks describes? 

Here are some quick links:

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