Last week I went to see Wonder Woman at the cinema.
I came out wanting to dress like Diana, visit Themyscira, cane a monster session in the gym and take on the world. Oh, and I set the theme tune as my text tone. Obviously.
To say I enjoyed it would be an understatement, but as both a geek and a feminist it was the first time since I was little that I remembered seeing a real big budget comic book movie which focused on a female lead and was also a damned good film! Don’t get me wrong, this one movie isn’t enough and there definitely needs to be more, but it’s a huge leap in the right direction, and personally I found the whole experience of such a feminist take on superheroics more than a little bit emotional!
The experience empowered m and totally inspired me to the point that I could write stacks of blog posts. But for the purposes of now I’m just going to write one.
So after that long intro, here are the ten things that Wonder Woman taught me about Self Love (spoiler free, although if you haven’t seen it yet then you damn well should!)…
1. Don’t let your life be controlled by machinery
If you’re familiar with your comic book lore you’ll know that Wonder Woman’s home is the Themyscira, the mythical land of the Amazons. It’s a magical place, and one with no need for modern technology.
Consequently the first time Diana sees a watch she needs an explanation of what it is –“it tells the time; it tells you when to eat, sleep…”
Her incredulous reply is: “That tiny thing tells you what to do?”
And you know, when you put it like that….
How many of us nowadays allow our lives to be run for us by the handheld pieces of miracle that seem to dictate our every move? Well maybe, just maybe it’s time to stop.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPhone as much as the next girl, but I’ve taken to spending at least an hour away from my phone every day. And you know what? I feel more relaxed and more connected to myself as a result than I have in years!
2. Love what you love without shame
As a newbie to the big wide world, Diana tends to approach things she’s never experienced before with the unadulterated joy of a small child. Ice cream? “Wonderful, you should be so proud!” Snow? “Magical!”
Do you remember a time when you were unafraid to show your joy and excitement for the things that you love? A time before anyone told you to calm down, looked at you as though you were slightly mad or all out called you weird?
I do. It was in the years before the teenage stint as a Pink Lady in Grease where I was too afraid of being laughed at to actually dance properly on stage. The result of my half-hearted attempt to look cool being that I actually looked more ridiculous than I ever would’ve otherwise.
No matter what your teenage insecurities may tell you, there’s nothing cool about playing it cool. But embracing the things that you love with the unashamed passion you feel for them?
Not only does that give you a chance to dive into those feelings of love and utter “you”-ness… it also empowers other people to do the same. And that’s cool.
3. Never lower yourself to someone else's standards to succeed
Diana heads out into the big wide world with a serious job to do. Yet time and time again she’s told that the only way to do that is by sacrificing many of the values she holds dear.
Isn’t that often the case in the real world too? How often have you been told you could succeed at work, if only you did things in a way you didn’t agree with, or been offered the comfortable long-term relationship you’d dreamed of, as long as you settled for a situation that was less than you actually wanted?
For me personally, there are stacks of examples of that happening. But what Wonder Woman teaches us is that no matter what anyone tells you there is never a need to sacrifice your morals, your dreams or anything you hold dear in order to reach your goals.
4. Even when you don’t know your purpose, follow your truth
You know, sometimes we all have our own personal mysteries… little pieces of information about ourselves that just seem to escape our notice no matter how hard we search for them.
Does that mean that we should stand still and wait until we’ve uncovered the information before we start trying to follow our dreams? Not at all.
Like Diana it’s just a reminder to tune into our guts and follow that inner guidance system to exactly where it needs to be. Maybe along the way we’ll make some mistakes, maybe we’ll uncover some secrets, but whatever happens we’ll be growing and learning with every step.
5. Whatever your circumstances, be empowered by love
Possibly my favourite line in the whole movie is that “only love will truly save the world”; it’s a sentiment I subscribe to wholeheartedly and one I could write a whole book on all on its own... But for today I’ll just stick to a few sentences.
Love is the most powerful force that we have; it’s what changes lives, brightens the darkness and yup, what will save the world. And I’m not just talking about romantic love.
The love you have for your family, your friends, your pet, your home, your hobbies, and of course your self – all of those things are just as strong as any other type of love.
So the next time you’re looking for fuel to keep yourself going through the tough days, or to achieve the difficult tasks you’ve set out to do, focus on the love you have in your life – both coming towards you and headed outwards – and use that as fuel to remind yourself of how much you have to offer the world and just how amazing you are.
6. But don’t shy away from the pain either
Sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes the things we set out to do don’t quite work out the way we expected and sometimes that can be downright painful.
When that happens you have to feel it. No matter how tough and shitty that is, all too often the only way to get through the difficult times and start the journey to healing is to feel them first.
And then we use that pain. We take the lessons we learned through the challenging times, and we take the strength we gained from the healing, and use those to head back out into the world and to follow the path to a new normal… and maybe even on to a happiness we wouldn’t have otherwise expected.
7. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t
From the first time we meet Diana we learn that she’s a pretty headstrong character; she knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to go for it… no matter what her mother, or anyone else says along the way.
Over and over again our heroine is told that she can’t do what she wants to, what she believes she has to. And over and over again she ignores the words of caution and goes for it.
And you know what? Every time she succeeds. More than that, it’s those risks and that courage that make her Wonder Woman.
Now maybe leaping tall buildings and lifting cars isn’t a possibility for us non-Amazonians. But laws of physics aside, you really can do anything you put your mind to just as long as you look after yourself first. So don’t forget that… and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
8. Concentrate on your own light
At the start of our movie Diana heads out into the world believing that people – all people – are intrinsically good, and that “darkness” is something they can all be saved and converted from.
Looking around our world today that darkness is often pretty plain to see. And it’s easy to think that we too can change the minds of those around us, open their hearts to love and help them find their own happiness as a result.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for saving the world one shiny open heart at time, but the truth is that it isn’t your job to change anyone’s opinions or outlooks for the better.
In reality the only heart you have control over is your own. So save your light first; save it, concentrate on making it burn brighter, and then shine shine shine and let others be inspired by your example to make changes of your own.
9. It’s OK to be strong and soft
There’s a point in the movie when Wonder Woman leaps high into the air and lands on the ground; long legs rippling. It sounds crazy but it was a moment that really struck me as powerful – not because she was mid-battle, or in full superheroine mode, but because at the moment she landed her thighs wobbled.
Now let’s be honest, you’d be hard pressed to spot an ounce of fat on Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman body, but hers is a physique that still looks soft even in its most powerful displays of strength.
And it’s not just the physical strength that she shows on screen: Diana is drawn into a battle when the plight of a woman touches her heart; she is as comfortable in flowing dresses as she is in armour; and she sheds tears as freely as she wields her sword of Athena.
For years we women have been told that we can’t be strong without shutting off our emotions, our connection, our very femininity. Finally though we’re starting to wake up to the fact that that’s just not true.
For so many of us our strength lies in our ability to feel, and in embracing our femininity as a part of us to be celebrated.
10. “Men are essential for procreation, but when it comes to pleasure… unnecessary”
And finally, next time you’re feeling shitty about your single status, and all the things it means missing out on, just remember this quote…
I have no idea who this Cleo lady is, but apparently she’s a very wise lady ;-)