If you haven’t been able to tell by the copious references and GIFs strewn about my blog posts, I love Parks and Recreation. A lot.
So when I learned Nick Offerman, who plays Ron Swanson (a.k.a. my favorite character), would be headlining a comedy show at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee I did not hesitate. I expected an evening full of laughter while I fan-girled over Offerman’s precious, iconic giggle (which is in fact his real laugh).
But I experienced much more.
Sadly, I was not allowed to take any photos during the show, but I would feel quite selfish if I kept all of Offerman’s sage wisdom to myself.
I really don’t have a smooth transition for this, so I’ll just go right out and say it: The big take away from his show was that we should all learn to go “full bush.”
Now, I know how this sounds and, I admit, he did talk about pubic hair for a bit, but it was only a third of the equation. Offerman explained to us that “going full bush” means: embracing your body and becoming less dependent on modern technology.
Offerman provided a better explanation about the ‘birds and the bees’ than my public high school health class—which in hindsight I now realize doesn’t mean much—and I wish I had heard these words as a sexually spouting, awkward middle schooler.
Do you remember being in like 5th-6th grade and receiving several extremely unhelpful pamphlets about your ‘changing body’ and (sorry, this one’s for the ladies) a care package of a singular pad, maybe a tampon, and a mini stick of deodorant? Well, I sure do because it was T R A U M A T I C. I went from being a little kid who didn’t even care about whether or not my clothes matched to a mini woman-in-training who went on 24/7 paranoia alert over having body hair where society was telling me not to have it and keeping my armpits fresh at all times.
Now, there is nothing wrong with removing body hair—and smelling great is always a welcome plus—but the way women young girls are socialized to feel ashamed of their bodies, for something as natural and non-indicative of their worth as hair, is truly awful.
And Offerman agrees. His “full bush” message was one of unrelenting body positivity. He shared his belief that both men and women alike should embrace the natural state of their bodies and I all but died. One of my heroes, a MAN, was telling us all to love our bodies and for women, especially, to raise a big middle finger to society.
It was quite an uplifting ‘first’ for me, but Offerman is no stranger to feminism. He attended one the Women’s Marches that occurred across the nation, Pussyhat and all, in Park City, Utah.
Bless you, Nick Offerman.
If this wasn’t encouraging enough, he also shared his concern for our obsession with social media and modern technology.
Now, whenever someone above the age of 30 tries to tell me that I spend too much time on social media, I typically roll my eyes so hard that they pop out of their sockets. Though he had the chance, Offerman didn’t lecture us, a theater full of college students, he outed us all.
Young and old, he believes we spend too much time on social media, Facebook specifically, watching videos and reading posts that, in the long run, have little value: a picture of your friend’s meal, yet another selfie captioned with an ‘inspirational’ quote, your aunt’s status update in which she inquires for the best crock pot recipe.
I’m seriously guilty of it all and, sometimes, I really hate myself for it. I spend so much time watching others rather than participating in my own life. I’m fairly certain it’s a sort of addiction at this point.
Offerman shared his solution, which is to try and make things, and fail often in the process. He led by example and brought out a ukulele that he had made himself, and I honestly thought I was about to experience cardiac arrest—Nick freaking Offerman, a feminist ally who plays ukulele.
He was like a schoolboy who made his first piece of macaroni art, beaming with pride over something he put great effort into crafting, but what made the moment truly noteworthy was that he also pointed out the instrument’s flaws. He had left a spacious gap between the top part of the neck and the first fret, and the frets themselves had been measured incorrectly or were mostly improvised.
“But it looks like a ukulele,” he told us, “and sounds like one too.” Despite its flaws, he was proud of his creation and encouraged that we take the time to make things, even if they are misshapen and imperfect.
“Take the time to make something, whether it be art, music, food, items, etc. regardless of the possibility to failure,” Offerman said. “We are mean to fail. It shows that we’re trying to contribute to our communities.”