I’ve taken a long time in my life to find Aphrodite. When I did, true love came into my life in a way it never had before.
Let me explain.
The way Aphrodite is portrayed in our very patriarchal world is as a bit of a lightweight. An airhead. Almost like a barbie doll who can talk and act, but with no real substance. Or that’s how I saw her, as a teenager and young adult anyway.
I was attracted to other Goddesses – particularly Athena, who is awesome, it’s true – because she seemed to at least have a good, solid head on her shoulders. I couldn’t digest the sexuality and sensuality of Aphrodite, possibly because I had issues with my own femininity; my own sensuality and sexuality.
Truth is, I’m not the most feminine of women, from a patriarchal view of femininity. I found femininity – as it is given to us very narrowly in mainstream culture, in the shape of Disney Princesses and supermodels and perfect housewives and airbrushed twelve year olds advertising anti-ageing creams and women who are excited by darning socks – to be something alien to me.
Yes, I love looking beautiful, and I’ve always enjoyed makeup and dressing up for formal events, but the daily me – the me I am comfortable with – is a jeans and t-shirts girl. I’m the girl who climbed trees and spoke up for herself and got into trouble and always had messy hair and chewed fingernails.
In short, what I was told I was “supposed to be” by the patriarchal establishment, as opposed to what I *was*, were two very different things. I couldn’t identify with what I was told I was supposed to be. I was a square peg in a round hole. I know my experience was very, very common – so many of my friends have said they felt the same: that they couldn’t fit the mould they were given either.
Who could? No wonder so many women and girls suffer from depression – we’re given an impossibly narrow pedestal upon which to balance.
So of course Aphrodite was awkward for me. The way she was presented in films and art was this beautiful, perfect Goddess who seemed so…unapproachable. She was a Goddess for the cheerleaders and the popular, pretty girls. Not for the awkward, gangly girls who had way too much to say for themselves. Not for ordinary women who failed to reach that pedestal.
She just didn’t seem to be a Goddess who could possibly have anything in common with women who were anything less than “perfect” in a Barbie doll-like sense.
Which shows just how taken in by patriarchal bullshit I was.
What you have to understand about Aphrodite is, she’s fucking powerful.
Way more powerful than any stereotype the patriarchy could try to mould her into. She is way beyond anything any stupid patriarchal culture could try to make her – it’s so far beneath her that it’s not even on the same plane of existence.
If you choose to follow Aphrodite, you must start by ignoring the bullshit. Ignore the patriarchy. Explore your true self. Honour your strengths. Acknowledge your weaknesses. Be true to yourself and to others. Love your body.
Aphrodite is beauty – in all of it’s feminine forms. All of them. Every single one. So she’s not just the beauty of the cheerleader and the popular girl.
She’s the beauty of the wild girl who leads the anti-rape protest with a megaphone.
She’s the beauty of the girl who has the inner strength to stand up against bullies who pick on a skinny kid in the playground.
She’s the beauty of the athlete and the musician and the artist – and all women who honour her with work.
She’s the beauty of the fat girl who is proud of her fat body and doesn’t give a shit about “thinspiration” and diets and “what she should be”, because she knows that her body is perfect, just the way it is.
She’s the beauty of the girl in glasses, and the girl with zits on her face, and the girl in the wheelchair, and the girl who is picked on because she is told she is “ugly” by that gang of boys in the hallway at school every day.
She’s the beauty of the Indian girl, and the Chinese girl, and the black girl, and the hispanic girl, and the Muslim girl, and the Jewish girl, and the redhead, and the blonde, and the brunette – and the girl with no hair at all who has just been through chemo.
She’s the beauty of that friend who is supposed to be ugly but, because you know her and love her, every tiny thing about her face and her smile is impossibly beautiful to you.
The patriarchy knows *nothing* about these things. NOTHING.
The media knows nothing about these things. NOTHING.
Aphrodite is the power and the beauty of all women who recognise the Divine in ourselves. Perhaps it takes a certain maturity to see Aphrodite in ourselves, to work past the awkwardness of youth, to break through the words that tell us we’re not good enough, we’re not skinny enough, we’re not pretty enough…we’re not enough.
I came to Aphrodite – or perhaps she came to me – when I was finally ready to accept who I was. When I ended the self-hate. When I was finally able, at this point in my life’s journey, to accept that I am beautiful. I am powerful.
I am enough.
I don’t need to look a certain way to radiate the beauty of the Goddess I serve.
But is She powerful? Oh yes. I am enough.
Aphrodite is no airhead. She is no Barbie doll. No weak, two-dimensional stereotype. What She is, is a Goddess who demands that we struggle to become the best version of ourselves that we can be. That we don’t imitate anyone else, but that we push for our own uniqueness. For authenticity.
Find our own, true beauty. Search for our own, unique power. That is the quest of Aphrodite: to develop strong, independent women who love this world and honour Her with our power.
Image is “The Goddess Venus” by Villenueve on DeviantArt.