The wisdom of a purple sparkly leotard

1 November, 2021

A few months ago a friend of mine was talking to me about her attempts to lose weight and do more exercise. She described how she’d been down this road many times before, sometimes with success, sometimes not, but always finding the process mystifyingly difficult. This year, and with another lockdown under her belt, she wanted to achieve that weight loss and healthier lifestyle all the more.

I listened to my friend intently. Like many people, I’m not above struggling to crack the healthy balance conundrum. As I listened, my friend told me about how she wanted to be seen as good enough, but how she found the definition of ‘good enough’ when it came to female beauty to be oppressive. As much as she wanted to be regarded as good enough, she equally rejected and railed against the unrealistic narrow definition thereof. If she pursued meeting the ideal, she’d be on a hiding to nowhere and feeling like she was betraying all the other people who don’t fit in with the norm. If she pursued rejecting the ideal, she’d be kidding herself that belonging and being accepted as good enough didn’t matter to her, something she knew to be untrue.

Of course, my friend recognised that the way to get out of this dilemma was to get beyond it. Can there be a way that both good enough and realistic can co-exist? She shared with me a love of Lizzo, the American pop phenomenon, who seems to have found her way beyond the dilemma. Images of Lizzo, glorious in a purple sparkly leotard at a recent Glastonbury festival danced into my mind…

My friend was making a wise point, repeat it as we often do, when it comes to having mixed feelings, it rarely truly works to pretend to ourselves that we can back one side of things and the other will just go away. We have to find an integration of both sides of ourselves, the truths in both perspectives. This reminded me of another principle at the heart of our MyST approach. From the ‘thesis’ of one person’s view about a problem, along with the ‘antithesis’ of another person’s view, we can craft a ‘synthesis’ in which the validity and usefulness of both can be recognised and appreciated.

So like my friend with her renewed intention to lose weight and be healthier, and the millions of others like her, can we who are pursuing real and lasting change for children who are looked after let go taking sides, and work relentlessly towards that synthesis? That place where all perspectives are included, all hold valuable information, where the way forward belongs to everyone involved and is available for everyone who wants it. That generous place that a shining purple gyrating Lizzo represents.

Jen & Jael

A Gwent Partnership Board Service