The day after Easter I took a break and went to Ecuador. I had always wanted to see the Galapagos, and it coordinated with a meeting my husband had in Guayaquil. It’s amazing what you see when you have no other objective than to enjoy. One of the first thing I noticed were the women’s bodies and the way they moved. A lot of my work is centered with the media and everyone knows that the camera adds 10 pounds (the camera adds a lot of other things, too). Many of the women I work with are thin and worried about how to become thinner. It felt so good to be in a country where women were a healthy weight, enjoying food, and enjoying their bodies.
Recently, I was asked to comment on a research study that was posted in the Daily Mail. The study suggested that older women are more depressed by what they see in the mirror than younger girls going through their “awkward stage.” Roughly 40% of the study’s teens said they were satisfied with their bodies, but only 9% of women in their late forties and fifties were satisfied with theirs. Forget the old idea that “as you grow older, you also grow wiser.” Forget, too, the notice that women over the age of forty no longer value their looks as much as they did when they were in their 20’s. Older women are not accepting of their aging bodies as much as we would like to think.
According to one of the psychologists involved in the study, Dr. Susan Quilliam, “women today are living in an age where female beauty is defined as young, and we have become obsessed with achieving that.” This is crazy; we can’t all be young. The only way you stay young forever is to die that way. When beauty has such a narrow definition, few can feel or be labeled “beautiful.” It’s the exclusion of that definition that is driving women of all ages to extremes.
Watching the women in Ecuador was not only enlightening but thought-provoking. Could we begin a movement in the United States to once again widen our view of beauty? Probably not, but we could enact it for one day. How about Mother’s Day? Let’s start with the moms and then generalize the concept to all women. Take one day to look in the mirror and admire how beautiful you are. Mothers (knowingly or not) are setting the standard in the United States. Moms buy the magazines, invest in beauty products, and mentor their daughters and their sons. Moms are the ones who buy the padded bras for their 8 year old. Moms are buying their babies the latest fashion even if it does leave the midriff bare. Moms allow and financially support breast implants, Botox, and liposuction. There is little fat to suck off a tween that is engaged in exercise and a healthy diet. Moms wouldn’t be encouraging and paying for perfection if they didn’t feel imperfect themselves; they wouldn’t be encouraging perfection if they didn’t value it themselves.
This Mother’s Day I am getting every mom I know a card that reads, “You are pretty enough and too beautiful to be perfect.” I am going to send this card because I am a mom, and I understand how tough it is to feel good enough. I work with people who have been criticized, teased and hurt and they have given up on the concept that they are “enough” of anything.
Below are some things that may help you feel beautiful this Mother’s Day and every day that follows. Start small; practice being beautiful every other day. In two weeks’ time, you should begin feeling as good as you look.
1. Get a size out of your mind. There is no universal perfect size. Stop reading the magazines that promote anything perfect. Anything perfect is not real.
2. Do not say anything negative about your body, hair, or face all day. Replace anything negative you would usually say with something positive.
3. When you look at people, notice their beautiful aspects instead of their “physical flaws.” Notice lips, eyes, neck, arms, and shoulders.
4. Don’t let anyone say anything disrespectful about your looks all day. Many women let people talk to them in a disrespectful way. They have become use to it and no longer notice. Today is the day to notice it and make it forbidden.
5. Move your body. Think of something beautiful and move your body to that thought. In a recent report polling what men thought was the most beautiful about women, “the way they moved” was in the top three.
6. Any smell that makes you feel beautiful is a good smell to have in your presence. Women are very sensitive to smell. Sometimes a smell can change our whole mood.
7. Sing to “your song.” What is your song? That song should make you feel beautiful, happy, sexy, and alive. If you don’t have one, you need to identify one and sing it to feel vibrant and beautiful.
8. Are you watching a show that promotes perfection and criticizes imperfection? Switch the channel. Advertisements are created to get you to buy their product. They know the power of beauty. Beauty is not for sale, but plastic surgery and treatments are. Beauty comes from feeling beautiful and acting on that thought.
9. Feeling beautiful has a lot to do with feeling comfortable about your body. Do you feel like a stranger to your body? Begin touching, exercising, and listening to your body so you know the sensitive parts, the strong parts, and the areas that need more attention. Don’t expect a partner to know how to love your body if you don’t.
10. Smile more when you want to feel more beautiful. Everyone always looks more beautiful when they smile.
All of us want to look good, but it becomes a liability when you go to extremes to achieve perfection or project the need for perfection onto your children. We all have a spark of the divinity within us; getting in touch with our spiritual side makes us feel more beautiful. Women who surround themselves with other women that hate growing older or criticize the looks of others will grow more spiteful.
Most of the husbands I work with tell me that their sex life worsened as their wife grew older. They also tell me it wasn’t them who rejected their wife (most of the men I work with tell me their wife is beautiful), but that it was their wife who rejected themselves. Looks change as we grow and evolve. How much healthier our children will be if we can set an example of loving ourselves all the way to the end! Happy Mother’s Day!