Advocating kindness



I admire Adela Arceo, and I have photographed her on many occasions. I met her at one of the first Arizona Photo Events shoots that I attended.

You can read a post I wrote about her a year ago. The post introduces you to her charming blog, Love as the Final Answer.

One of the things she does to benefit all of us is to speak up on the subject of accepting people as they are. She advocates courtesy and respect, and she wrote to Teen Vogue for the purpose of “adding some variety to their inbox”. You can read Adela’s post about the experience with this link.

I visited the Teen Vogue website today and saw little evidence of a more inclusive attitude.

The sad reality is that a lot of women and girls don’t think they are beautiful, mainly because they don’t look like women and girls in magazines. Perhaps we should focus less on looking like them, and more on putting women who look like us on the cover.—Adela Arceo

In another post she wrote this about her decision to pose nude at art class:

To conquer my fears – it’s like this: if I am able to be naked in front of 12 strangers, female and male, for 3 hours in the same pose I CAN DO ANYTHING. I have always been self conscious of my body, especially since I’m what you’d call a “curvy” girl (that’s putting it lightly).

I suffered from extreme shyness and social anxiety as a child. I am now 21. Time to put away the security blanket and show the world that I am a woman. Now if ever I get nervous or flustered for fear of what people think, I can remind myself : “Hey, remember when you took all your clothes off and let a whole bunch of people study and dissect you for 3 hours, like one of those poor frogs in biology class – only you were ALIVE? This performance should be a piece of cake!”

Adela also advocates the creative use of color.

Adela also advocates the creative use of color.

She mentioned in her blog post that one of the art students commented that she was fat.

Tucson has other outspoken advocates of kindness. Jade Beall, Jes Baker, and Liora K. are among them. Jade and Liora photograph women of all shapes and sizes and publish the nude images for anyone to see. I admire the photographers and the models.

Institutions are often very short on kindness. Consider this excerpt from The New York Times:

Responding to years of complaints from victims of clergy sexual abuse, the Vatican announced on Wednesday that Pope Francis had approved a plan to subject Roman Catholic bishops accused of covering up or failing to prevent misconduct to judgment and discipline by a new tribunal.

Even institutions created—supposedly—to advocate kindness do not always practice it.

Harvard is accepting a $400,000,000 dollar donation while elementary schools in urban areas suffer grotesquely. Consider what this teacher has to say about a school in a bad part of Los Angeles. LAUSD stands for Los Angeles Unified School District.

At Berendo Middle School I encountered what the LAUSD called a “school.” Students who had earned “Ds” and “Fs” for as long as they could remember. Students who routinely come to school without a pen or pencil or anything on which to write. Students who thought that simply coming to school everyday and taking up space at a desk somehow equaled learning. Students who could hardly write their names and/or read a simple paragraph and know what it meant.—Richard Geib’s website

Bill Moyers has this to say about Wal-Mart:

The human-welfare department appears to be lagging. While Wal-Mart has come under fire for mistreating its store associates, the supply-chain workers are exploited in even more complex ways, with even less recourse against the company, as Wal-Mart does not directly employ them.

A good friend of ours lost her significant other recently. She told me this morning that people ask her how she is in a very casual way. She told me her response is, “I just lost my best friend. How do you think I am?” Her counselor told her a more appropriate question is “How are you doing today?”

The need for kindness is one of our most profound and urgent challenges. We seem to be running very low on it. Advocating kindness, oddly, involves a great deal of risk. Are we up for the challenge?


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