On Monday morning my Instagram feed exploded with the face (and breasts) of a woman I had never seen before.
“Oh,” I thought to myself, “maybe Fifty Shades of Grey has a new lead actress.”
Only seconds later did I realize that the woman gracing the cover of Vanity Fair and the feeds of tech-obsessed pop culture enthusiasts was Caitlyn Jenner — the new, improved (and female) Bruce Jenner.
For years now, the Olympic medalist has claimed to be struggling with gender identity and after what one can only assume to be a tormented journey, Jenner has openly stepped into a new role — that of Caitlyn; a beautiful busty brunette with the bone structure of a supermodel. Or, I guess, an Olympic athlete.
I wasn’t ill-prepared for the transformation. I’ve been watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians for at least six years, and I saw the Diane Sawyer interview. I guess I just didn’t expect her to be so... authentic. I guess when I thought about Bruce Jenner becoming a woman I expected her to be Bruce Jenner, the woman.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Caitlyn is not only no longer Bruce’s body, she is no longer Bruce at all.
In her Vanity Fair interview, Jenner claims to read all of her fan mail and, sometimes, even respond with a personal phone call — something she says Bruce would never have done. Jenner hasn’t only treated this physical and emotional transformation like a gender overhaul; she has used it to rebirth herself as a person with fundamentally different views on life.
It got me thinking about how sad it is that it might take someone a lifetime or thousands of dollars in order to become a better person. Gender identity aside, Caitlyn Jenner seems nicer and happier. Does being nice make you happy or does being happy make you nice? Which came first? And why did Bruce never bother to take the leap while Caitlyn waltzed through the double doors with ease?
The other week I sat talking to a new friend about our commonalities — namely, the obsessive perfectionism that goes into our Instagram accounts — when she threw me for a loop and told me she and her husband decided to leave social media behind in its entirety because it was turning them into people they had no interest in being.
“We just needed to focus on being ourselves, not the people we thought others wanted us to be,” she said — loosely.
Apart from a Twitter account pushing 7 whole tweets and an Instagram account with four pictures — oh yeah and a Vanity Fair cover — Caitlyn seems to be following my friend’s lead. She took the time she needed away from the public eye in order to emerge in full red carpet fashion as her true self.
None of us can say if the amount of publicity the Kardashian-Jenner clan have received over the past dozen years affected the speed at which Caitlyn Jenner wanted to introduce herself to us, if she’s doing it for attention (unlikely), if she still visits Bruce Jenner in her dreams — but it’s neither here nor there anymore.
As far as I’m concerned, the issue of the week isn’t the bold, brave and beautiful Caitlyn — though she is all of those things — it’s the reminder that at any given moment we can choose to be someone different if the person we are is no longer someone we love.
In the words of Caitlyn Jenner’s last tweet, “learn from those who have walked the path before you,” and my, oh my, she has blazed quite the trail.
— Andria Parker is a 20-something blogger from Kamloops