Thursday, September 23, 2010

On a mission - Part 1

What is your definition of beauty?

Is it the faces you see on the street every day -- the elderly people with faces lined with wrinkles and laugh lines, the little kids who smile as they skip past you, the woman in her 20s who is fresh faced and on her way to meet her boyfriend, the mother hurrying past you with 3 kids that looks like she could use a break?

Or is it the faces you see in the media every day - the actresses with the teeny tiny waists and professionally done hair & make up, the singer who just had a baby 2 months ago and has already lost the 60 lbs she gained, the model who is in her 50s but would like everyone to believe that she's aging gracefully despite the many rounds of plastic surgery she's had?

Does it have to be one or the other? Can it be both?

As a female living in this world, I think we are under far more pressure to look good, be thin, have great hair, wear the right clothes and make up....all while managing the rest of our lives. When you flick through a magazine, you don't see pages and pages of men in their various states of dress getting picked apart by the so called "experts". There may be one or two, but it is primarily the women.

Their fashion choices are torn apart, their weight is CONSTANTLY under scrutiny, and ooooh look she's got cellulite! *gasp*shock*horror*

The pictures on those pages, the faces on the commercials....they. are. photoshopped! They aren't real.

The thing is, a lot of the celebs that you see on those pages -- Halle Berry, Charlize Theron, Julia Roberts, the list goes on forever! -- ARE already gorgeous. So why do they need to be enhanced, tweaked and "improved" when their photos are put in a mag?

Why? Because society has a twisted idea of what beauty really is.

I read THIS post by Dan Pearce over at Single Dad Laughing and I found myself nodding along the whole time. It struck a cord with me because for years I have heard, from various sources (not all of them credible), that I can't be hot, I can't be considered beautiful or sexy....because I'm not a size 2 or even a size 12! And I started to believe it! My self esteem sunk SO low that even when my husband, who has loved me at my heaviest weight of 370 lbs, told me that I was beautiful and sexy, I didn't believe him. He couldn't possibly be telling the truth. I don't look anything like those women on tv or in the magazines, so I can't be what he's describing.

I woke up.

No, I don't fit the societal norm of what is hot/beautiful/sexy. No, I'm not a size 2 (nor do I aspire to be. A nice 12 to 14 will do me nicely). No, I don't have the fashionable clothes, the great hair or the gorgeous make up.

BUT!

But I am hot....because my self esteem has started to come up as I lose weight and I really LISTEN to what my husband is telling me.

But I am sexy.....because with that improving self esteem comes self confidence and dammit, I can strut my stuff!

But I am beautiful....because I am a good person, a good mother, a good wife and a good friend and I continue to work on those things on a daily basis.

I am all those things. And so are you. All of you (the men too!).

Don't get me wrong, I know I'm not perfect.....but I don't want to be. I am not trying to be skinny, I am not trying to look like a model. My weight loss journey is purely for my health. I want to be healthy, I want to be alive. Any cosmetic benefits are pure gravy as far as I'm concerned!

As my opinion of myself has improved and the way I see myself has changed, I have thought more and more about how I can make other change the way they see themselves. But where can a person start?

I started with my daughter. I don't want her to grow up with the same body issues that I have been dealing with for years. I want her to be comfortable in her own skin, be confident with who she is and what she looks like and I want her to OWN it.

When she was 5, she came home from kindergarten and stood in front of the mirror and proclaimed herself FAT. I just about moved to Outer Siberia right then and there. Obviously being in contact with the outside world wasn't helping! But that's not the solution is it?

I told her that she was most certainly not fat, she was healthy and beautiful and smart. And I have continued to tell her that. Growing up with a fat mother, she is 50% more likely to have a weight problem herself. Add that to my list of motivations for my own weight loss. As I lose weight and exercise, she sees me making smart and healthy choices and is more likely to do the same. Already, she has entered her first duathlon!

But it's not just my daughter. It's my sister, my mother, my neighbours and my friends. It's strangers out there standing in front of the rows of magazines, sad that they will never look like Drew Barrymore. How do you make a difference with them?

Well. That's when I found out about Operation Beautiful.

This woman started putting up post it notes with messages on them. Encouraging messages. And she stuck them all over the place. People started finding them and then they started leaving some of their own. And it has grown. People all over the world are posting notes where people can find them. I've even been leaving them in various places.

It's a small thing, but it can make a huge difference to someone's day.

So my questions to you are these:

Are YOU beautiful/hot/sexy? (hint: this is a trick question, I already gave you the answer)

How do you foster good self esteem in the girls in your life?

How will you make someone feel better about themselves this week?

**********

Part 2 of "On a Mission"...coming soon!

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3 comments:

  1. YES. Hell, YES! :)

    We try to focus on the journey as well as the accomplishment, whether it's getting healthy or mastering a new skill. They have to learn a little disappointment along the way in order to fully appreciate the achievement.

    Sometimes I think the best way to make someone feel better about themselves is to listen to them - really listen. A sympathetic ear and a hug go a long way.

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  2. Ok, first, beauty to me are the small things in life that take your breathe away and often by surprise. Sometimes seeing my husband asleep nearly puts me to tears.
    Am I hot? heck yea, when my legs both work, they are pretty sexy. And if I am not hot, my husband is one good liar since he tells me all the time how lovely I am.
    I tell my daughter and stepdaughters they are beautiful all the time. And I mean it.
    One thing I have to do constantly though is to remind my husband that HE is beautiful. He has trouble believing it.

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  3. Maggie, my darling daughter in law Kate has struggled with her body image since I've known her. She is a fantastically beautiful woman with 4 kids. She's not a tiny girl, nor should she be. I do take her out at least once a year to get clothing that enhances her beauty and believe it or not, that $200 dress can be worth a million in how it makes her feel. Kate and I love our trips to the City!

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Show me some love people.....you know you want to!