Do you feel unattractive? Mention your fat thighs to your children? Be beautiful this Mothers' Day!
10 ways to feel "Pretty Enough" This Mothers' Day
The day after Easter I took a break and went to Ecuador. I had always wanted to see the Galapagos and it cordinated with a meeting my husband had in Guayaquil. It’s amazing what you see when you have no other objective than to enjoy. The overwhelming thing I noticed was 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. It made me want to sit and talk to them and, although they were accomodating of my Italian/English translating, issues of self esteem, body image and sexulity would have proved difficult.
Right before I left for Ecuador, I was asked to comment on a new research study that was recently 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 teens studied said they were satisfied with their bodies, but only 9 percent of women in their late forties and fifties were satisfied with theirs. If you live in the United States, forget the old thinking that as you grow older you also grow wiser. Forget, too, 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 Dr. Susan Quilliam (one of the psychologists involved in the study), “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 labled as 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 in regards to curvy, female bodies, but it was also 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, which determines who is beautiful enough. 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 eight year olds. Moms are buying their babies the latest fashion even if it does leave their child’s midriff bare or their bottom exposed. Moms allow and financially support breast implants, botox, and liposuction. There is little fat to suck off a tween that is mentored exercise and a healthy diet. Moms would not be encouraging and paying for their babies to achieve perfection if they didn’t feel imperfect themselves; nor would they 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 pretty enough in this society. 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 to be valued.
Below are some things that may help you feel beautiful this Mother’s Day and everyday that follows. Start small, practice being beautiful every other day and, in two weeks time, you should begin feeling as good as you look:
1. The first thing you have to do is 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, instead of noticing their “physical flaws” notice their beautiful aspects. Notice lips, eyes, neck, arms, shoulders, and anything else that is physically beautiful to you.
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 grown so use to it, they no longer notice. Today is the day to notice it and make it verboten.
5. Move your body. Think of something beautiful and move your body to that thought. In a recent report of what men thought most beautiful about women, “the way they moved” was in the top 3.
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 something to help you get rid of something ugly? 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 of your body that need more attention. Don’t expect a partner to know how to love your body if you don’t.
10. Take care to smile more when you want to feel more beautiful. Everyone always looks more beautiful when you smile.
All of us want to look good, but it becomes a liability when you go to extremes to achieve perfection or begin to 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 focus on their looks and surround themselves with women, who hate growing older or constantly criticize the looks of others, will grow more spiteful of their body and their imperfections. 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! –Mary Jo Rapini
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