Tag Archives: Women

Real Beauty

20 Apr

Dove “Campaign For Real Beauty” photo exhibit

 

 

I just watched the Dove Real Beauty Sketches. If you haven’t seen it yet, go back and click on the link. Take 6 minutes and allow your mind to be blown. The description before the video states that only 4% of women around the world believe that they are beautiful. 4%. That is a depressingly low number. 4%. I still can’t wrap my mind around it.

 

That means that 96% of women believe that they aren’t beautiful. That means that 96% of us see only our flaws when we look in the mirror. We focus on things that others overlook. We can’t see past the imperfections to see anything beautiful. We can’t possibly be beautiful because of this reason, or that reason. We are just a compilation of one flaw after another.

 

Like many women, I could list many things I would change about myself if I could. I believe that I am a great person; a good mom, a good wife, a good friend, good at my job, honest, caring, funny, and so on. I know that who I am is not directly connected to the way I look. I know that I am more than that. But, when I look in a mirror, I always dislike what I see. If I had to list the beautiful things about myself, I could find 2 or 3; and that would be on a good day. My question is, how does this effect who I am? Does this make me generally unhappier? Does this make me less than I could be? Does this take away from what I could become?

 

I have a very interesting story. I got married a year ago. That means that about 18 months ago, I was wedding dress shopping. Before this moment, I had lost about 75 pounds. I had worked very hard to better myself. Now, wedding dresses are not the exact size that you wear in everyday clothes. So, the sales lady asked me what size dresses I thought I would be trying on. I gave her a number, based on what size pants I wore. She laughed and looked at me like I had no idea what I was talking about. She estimated another size and suggested that I start there. I thought she was crazy, but I went with it. She was right! And, I wasn’t just a little off. I was off by 3-4 sizes. In reflecting on that moment, I realized that my perception of what I looked like was so unbelievably wrong.

 

I would love to say that that moment changed my life. That I was able to begin working on my self-image and made huge strides. I didn’t. I tried to be more realistic about what size I wear and threw away several bags of clothes that I had been wearing that were much too big for me. But, I am far from looking in the mirror and seeing beauty.

 

The Dove Real Beauty Sketches video is touching and eye-opening and shocking. But, it got me thinking. I wonder how a stranger would describe the way I look. More, I wonder how my husband, my children, and my best friend see me. The people who love me and believe that I’m beautiful. How I would love to see myself through their eyes.

 

I have such a passion to see the world changed. I have such a desire to see the way women see themselves changed. I have dreams that my children will grow up in a society that promotes real beauty and encourages people to embrace their individuality and uniqueness. I want to believe I’m beautiful, and I want you to believe that you’re beautiful. So, go look in the mirror. Look only for the beauty. Don’t focus on the imperfections or things you would change. Look at how beautiful you are.

 

 

After all, Dove is right…… “You are more beautiful that you think.”

 

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Better with age

28 Feb

There are things that get better with age: wine, artwork, architecture. But some of my favorite things in life also get better with age and experience. People often fight like hell against getting older. Me? I’m pretty ok with it. I look around at my life, and I realize that my twenties had nothing on what my thirties have in store. These are the things, in my life, that just keep getting better.

Friendship – My best friend has known me forever. Literally. Well, since junior high school. It feels like forever. At that time, we were typical friends. We would hang out, talk about boys, laugh. And we still do. We get together as often as our busy lives allow. We still talk about boys and laugh. Only now, we talk about our marriages and our children. We talk about the most important things in our lives. We share our dreams with each other. We share our greatest heartbreaks. She knows me so well and I would be a mess without her! As I’ve gotten older, I’ve also made a couple of other close friendships with some great women. They challenge me, they support me, they teach me, they help me grow. I am so grateful for these women who have enriched my life.

Marriage – I haven’t been married very long. Maybe I can’t say much on this subject. I’m no expert. But, I have learned a few things. I have matured. And because I didn’t get married until I was older, I think I appreciate it more than I would have when I was 20. I fight harder than I would have when I was 20. I understand better what it means. It is still hard and it is still work, but I remember what the alternative is. And I’m looking forward to what lies in store for the future.

Motherhood – When Isaiah was just a tiny guy, I made some mistakes. I made some mistakes that could have resulted in my child being one of those kids other parents talk about and nobody wants to be friends with. Someone who loves me a whole lot called me out on it and I stepped back and evaluated. I didn’t really like what I saw. Because it was just Isaiah and I, I had a tendency to let him get away with everything. He was not turning into the young man he needed to be. So, I changed. I made the concerted effort to be a better mom. I learned to let go of some of the things that don’t really matter and focus on what’s important. To focus on raising him to be a strong, confident, Godly gentleman. To focus on making memories he will remember. And, sometimes, to focus on me so that I can be relaxed and happy and better able to be his mommy. Of course, I still make mistakes. I am not perfect. I could probably stand to do some things better. But, I realize now that teaching him and correcting him are the best things I could ever do for him. They will make him a better man. And, aside from loving him, that is my purpose in his life.

I also have acquired a fantastic little girl in the last couple of years. The challenges of step-parenting (I hate that term, by the way. There should be another way to say it.) are more than I ever could have imagined. And the benefits are more than I could describe. There is an inexplainable bond that grows between a parent and a child. Every parent knows that. But there is something completely different, yet equally beautiful, and somehow so much the same about a parent and a step-child. This person that I didn’t love automatically because they were created by me. This person that I fell in love with just as I fell in love with her daddy. This person that I chose to love. That I chose to treat just as if she were my own. That I chose to vow to protect and sacrifice for. There is power in that kind of love.

Me – I hear people all the time talk about how they would love to go back and relive high school or the year they were 21 or 25. Not me! I look back at who I was then. I think back to the stupid mistakes I made. I remember the way I let other people treat me. I would never go back. I am in the best stage my life has ever held. I am confident (mostly). I am happy. I am in love. I have surrounded myself with people that make me better. I know who I am. I know what I want out of life. I am learning when it’s important to stand up for myself and when it’s important to let something go. I am learning how to be by myself sometimes. I am learning how to balance being a wife and a mother, and still being me. I know how to love someone without losing myself. I know how to make myself happy and not look to someone else to do it. I am learning how to be a little less stressed and a little more open to change. I am learning that life doesn’t always go as you have planned so you need to take what life gives you and run with it. The me I am now is better than I’ve ever been.

Go back? Not a chance. It has only gotten better with age.

What about you? Would you go back? Would you stay and look forward? Why?

Redefining beauty

4 Feb

Something horrible has happened. Something we may never be able to shield ourselves or our daughters from. Something that has been happening for a long time. Beauty has become unattainable for most of us.

What has happened to our perception of beauty? Look at the beautiful women and sex-symbols of the 1950s; Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Bettie Page. Look at The Birth of Venus, or any of the art from the Renaissance. But somewhere along the way, all of that changed.

Men are constantly being surrounded; through tv, magazines, cd covers, movies, etc… with the women whom are considered beautiful by society’s standards. And every time my husband stops to look at a magazine, or freezes for just a second while flipping through the channels (and he definitely doesn’t do it often), these are my thoughts:

Carrie Underwood…. My legs look nothing like that.

Pink…. I could never look like that in a bikini.

Miranda Kerr….. Her boobs.

Heidi Klum….. She’s had how many kids? I’ve had one and stretch marks have accompanied me ever since.

The list could go on and on. (And in the interest of not sounding judgemental, I know that most of those women work very hard to look the way they do. And they are beautiful!)

My husband, like many of yours, could compliment me 100 times a day, but years of being shown I’m not beautiful are hard for him to compete with. Hundreds, probably thousands, of images of “real” beauty are hard to deny.

I am in no way saying that we shouldn’t have goals or better our health. Obesity is not healthy. I know this.

However, size 6 is NOT plus sized. The average woman is much closer to a size 14. And all of those cute clothes and gorgeous dresses. They aren’t made in that size. In most stores, that size is located in the “women” or “misses” section. You might as well call them “fat clothes” because that’s what we feel like when we shop for them.

I will never forget my moment. The moment I saw a curvy, real woman and thought, for possibly the first time in my adult life, “She is beautiful. She is real and she is beautiful. Maybe I could be beautiful too.” Sara Ramirez. Grey’s Anatomy. There is a scene, several seasons ago, where she dances. In a basement. In her underwear. She’s beautiful. And she is also, from that moment on… One of my heroes. I wanted her confidence. I wanted her sassiness. I wanted to be her, in that moment. (Well, making out with Mark Sloan didn’t hurt, either.)

Some of the most beautiful women I have met are not thin. What they are is confident. Happy. Self-assured. Beautiful.

So, my new goal in life is to help change the definition of beauty. To help little girls know that they are beautiful. To help women know that they are beautiful. To help men realize that the pausing on a tv channel, and ogling magazine covers, and the “innocent” comment about the woman in the movies, is hurtful. And even the most innocent comments only cement what we already think of ourselves; that we could never possibly compete.

The challenge for today:
Ladies: Look into a mirror and find five things that are beautiful about you. Five. Now say them out loud. And tomorrow, find five more. Rinse and repeat.
Fellas: Tell your wife (and your daughter, and your sister, and your mother, and the old lady across the street, but especially your wife) five things that are beautiful about her. Five. Make her believe it. And tomorrow, find five more. You get the idea.

And slowly, even if it’s one woman at a time, I pray the world will change it’s perception of beauty.

A toast to my friend

26 Jan

imageIt is my opinion that everyone should have that friend. You know the one. The friend that you always call, with everything. The one you could talk to for hours, every day. The one you share your deepest sorrows and greatest joys with.

I am fortunate enough to have that friend. Her name is Anna. She has been my friend since we were 13 years old. I won’t tell you how many years that’s been; but I will tell you, it’s been more than half my life. After that long, we’re family.

Since we’ve been friends, we have both experienced our first heartbreak, and second and third. We have both gotten married; she will celebrate her 10th anniversary this year and I my first. We have both moved into our first homes. We were pregnant at the same time and delivered beautiful babies within 5 days of each other. We graduated from high school together and I graduated from college, while she went on to start a very successful photography business.

We have seen the ups and downs of life together. We have grieved together. We have celebrated together. We have pondered the big questions of life and laughed at the things that don’t really matter. There is no better support system than a friend who has known you so completely for so long.

She is my biggest cheerleader and the first one to give me a kick in the pants if I need it. She is completely honest with me, but in a way that protects the parts of me that need protecting. She has been witness to some of the most embarrassing moments in my life and my proudest.

When I got my heart broken, she was the first one I called. When I bought my first house, she was the first one I called. When I discovered I was pregnant, she was the first one I called. When my husband proposed to me, she was the first one I called. (Actually, she knew before I did.) When I wasn’t sure what the next step was supposed to be, she was the first one I called. When I was ready to take the next step, she was the first one I called. When that step was a huge mistake, she was the first one I called. When that step was one of the best decisions I could have made, she was the first one I called.

She has been the one to leave Christmas presents under my tree and in my stocking when I was going to be waking up alone Christmas morning. She has been the one to sit in the hospital with me when I was in labor for 40 hours, even though she was 9 months pregnant herself. She has been the one to cry with me, because there were no words, when my baby’s future was so unsure. She has been the one to stand beside me while I was vowing my life to my husband, and the one to call me out when I wasn’t keeping up with my end of the deal. She has been the one to call my family when my little guy had to go to the emergency room. She has been the one… so many times and through so many circumstances.

We laugh about what life will look like when we’re old. I am determined to be one of those old ladies who says and does the craziest things; just because I’m old and I can. And there is no question in my mind that she will be there too. So, in 50 years, if you see two old ladies, laughing so hard they are peeing themselves, telling dirty jokes, flirting with younger men, putting false teeth in glasses of water, and reliving the memories of the past, it might be us. And if it is, you can know without doubt, that it has been one hell of a ride!

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